So the second part of our week in Italy was spent in Cinque Terre. This has been a “Bucket List” destination of ours for a while now, so it was truly a treat to be going here and I was super excited! Cinque Terre is a collection of five fishing villages on the north eastern coast of Italy. They are crazily constructed and the whole area is a Unesco World Heritage site. They are a very “Pinterest” destination, as the houses are brightly coloured.
It is a train ride of about 4 hours from Rome, so naturally, I read up on the area in my Lonely Planet guide and also read some of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” which I was reading at the time.
Carl had booked us into a gorgeous little en-suite room in a house in Corniglia which is the middle of the five towns. We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and just had a mooch around Corniglia, I think Carl was pretty tired after carrying the case up the 377 steps up to the village!
There are trails for hiking which connect the five towns. There are two routes you can hike; the blue routes, which are generally easier routes following the coastal paths and which you have to have a Cinque Terre card for (the Cinque Terre cards are 7.50 euros for one day not including the train) and the red routes which are more strenuous and are free. You can buy Cinque Terre cards which last more than one day.
A train connects each of the five towns so you could go to this area and not hike at all, although I think that would be a real shame, as you see so much more when you are walking and it is part of the experience!
When we arrived we were told that the two blue routes connecting Corniglia and Manaroloa and Manarola and Riomaggiore were closed due to land slides. The only option was to do a red route or get the train. Carl and I love hiking, so we opted for the red routes on the Friday. Below is the map and the view of Corneiglia on our first hike to Manarola and the view of Corniglia from our bedroom window.
The day was gorgeous and we hiked through vineyards to get to Manarola. Each village has a Sanctuary above it and we visited the one above Manarola in the tiny village of Volastra. Manarola is the oldest town, and after Corniglia was my favourite. We went back here on the Saturday and did a wine tasting course for 15 euros each at La Cantina dello Zio Bramante where we tasted a red, white and dessert wine paired with small plates of local foods. This was one of our favourite activities and not least because of the knowledgeable guide and the three ladies who were also present with us. They were in their late sixties and were friends (two Aussies and one American) they were hilarious and managed to completely take down an annoying American tourist who seemed to be basing his identity on Russell Brand and was talking very loudly about inappropriate “sexploits” and generally being a bit of a knob. We laughed a lot!
We didn’t find the hiking too difficult, it was steep in places, but it was a good two hour walk to Manarola, where we had a drink and look around stopping for Lobster Tagliatelle at a restaurant called Trattoria da Billy which had gorgeous sea views and was incredibly reasonably priced.
We then went on to Riomaggiore, which was a much steeper trek, almost straight up and down through vineyards and was a bit harder on the legs!
After all that trekking we took the train back to Corniglia and watched the sunset with a glass of wine in a gorgeous wifi free café which we came to love!
On the Saturday the weather was a little overcast but intermittently sunny. We took the blue route to Vernazza and while easier than the red route, it was full of other hikers and the views weren’t as good. Vernazza is very pretty though and has recovered remarkably well from devastating floods in 2011.
We then walked on to Monterosso the newest and biggest of the five towns. Then on a recommendation, we took the train to Levanto and then hiked back along a red route. This was more difficult, I don’t know if this was because we were tired or it was genuinely a more difficult red route. The weather when we started was beautiful, but unfortunately when we reached the viewpoint to look over Monterosso and down the coast to see all five of the villages, it was completely obscured by cloud!
We were very tired after this and Sunday was much more leisurely day, it’s when we did the wine tasting and when we repeated part of our first trek in the evening, which was our favourite one overall.
On the Monday we came home and said goodbye to all the amazing Italian food we had eaten! Evidence below:
My tips for trekking in Cinque Terre:
- Plan your route and be prepared with water and provisions – Italian signage is not the most accurate and it may take longer than you imagine!
- Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
- Take your camera, you will be snapping all the time!
- Don’t treat it like a race, take your time to enjoy it and stop for gelato, pasta and wine!
- Have a map with you when trekking.
- Be realistic about the time you have and if you can plan to trek one way and then train it back!
I love the pace of life in Italy, the food, the attitude, how family orientated it is. It really is “La Vita e Bella” and I always leave a little piece of my heart there…until next time Italia!
More snaps are on my Instagram @nackandnace.