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Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a very renowned sea location west of La Spezia which should be considered as an area, or a region, rather than a single place. The name means in fact “Five territories”: namely the five ancient villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

These villages have a long history and a charming connection with the beautiful surrounding nature, made of sea and the jagged profile along the five miles of rocky coastline enclosed by two promontories. Spurs of stone overlooking the sea, small coves, bays, ravines, beaches between cliffs make the unique landscape with crystal-clear sea of the area.
The best advice to visit the Cinque Terre is to choose one of the villages as a base and travel to the others, according to time available. Most important thing is to get the opportunity to enjoy the typical atmosphere, hike the nice paths in the nature, enjoy the enchanting sea view, rather than running from one village to the other.
The easiest way to get to each of the Cinque Terre villages is the railway. If you are traveling by car, it is best to park it in town and walk or take a bus to the station, as in the Cinque Terre there are very few car parking lots. Even if you are based in a hotel in the Cinque Terre, the train is the best transport to visit the area.


At La Spezia railway station and in all villages you can decide whereas you want to get an idea, pick one or two of the villages and buy a single ticket to get there (about 7,50€ return ticket to reach the most far village), or if you want to visit the whole area: in this case you can get a Cinque Terre Park ticket. Make sure to buy the “Cinque terre Train Card” and not just the basic Cinque Terre Card, which only allows walking on the paths of the Cinque Terre and not to hop on and off the train.

It should be noted that the five villages are really beautiful, but not too different from each other, and that hiking in the Cinque Terre to admire the unique spectacular sea and cliff view is definitely the thing to do here. So rather than running from one place to another, we suggest to visit one village, walk the path to the next one, swim a bit, relax with a nice drink, gelato, aperitivo or dinner there, enjoy the breathtaking sunset view from any point of the cinque terre, in summer enjoy the lively nightlife, then take the last train back home.

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  • By Car: following the initial stretch of the road leading to Portovenere you will find the signs to get to Riomaggiore and Manarola, the closest two villages of the area, that can be reached in a 15 minutes drive along the panoramic road called “Litoranea”. In Riomaggiore and Manarola you can park the car before entering the villages. The other villages are more difficult to reach by car and it is not easy to park the car.
    You can also reach the most far villages of the Cinque Terre with the A12 highway to Genova, exiting in Carrodano and then following the signs to Monterosso.
  • By Train: the easiest way to get to the Cinque Terre villages, especially with the summer Express service. With the Cinque Terre Card, you can hop on and off the five villages and also access transfer services to inlans villages.

Riomaggiore is considered to be the first village of the Cinque Terre by locals : in fact, Riomaggiore is the first one when you leave from La Spezia, at about ten miles going north-west. As all of the five villages, Riomaggiore is on the sea, and can also be easily reached by boat, with the ferry leaving from La Spezia sea promenade.

The village is also cut in two by the railway that goes to Genova and that in the Cinque Terre has one of its most stunning stretches, in the steep strip of land between sea and mountains. The train is the easiest, shortest and most beautiful way to get to Riomaggiore.

Originally built in the eighteenth century, the ancient center is situated in the valley of the river Rio Maggiore, the old Rivus Major from which the village takes its name and consists of several parallel orders of Genoese tower-houses that follow the steep course of the stream.

Riomaggiore is also connected to the next village by a path called La Via dell’Amore (the path of Love), a very romantic walk on the steep coast, from which you can see some of the most stunning views of the sea in the area.
If you like trekking, from Riomaggiore you can climb up to Volastra, across the most typical terraced vineyards, where the Sciachetra raisin wine is produced. Volastra is a fascinating ancient village, not visible from the sea, which is the reason why it was probably chosen as a shelter in times of attacks from the sea.
It was only after year 1000 that, thanks to the safer seas due to the expansion of the Republic of Genoa, the inhabitants of the primitive hill settlements could gradually go down to the sea, thus giving rise to the first nucleus of the village of Riomaggiore.

Manarola was founded in the thirteenth century probably by the inhabitants of Volastra, the village in higher up the hills.

In Manarola the railway seems to be projected over the sea and the station itself is a roof terrace. From here, a short pedestrian tunnel leads to the main (and almost only) narrow road that goes down to the sea, including restaurants, bars and shops. The small port is surrounded by rocks and looks like a Mediterranean natural pool. If you’re brave as young locals you might try to dive from the highest rocks. But it is not recommended: better take a peaceful swim!

Going up the village meet San Lorenzo, a church in Ligurian Gothic style of the fourteenth century overlooking the entire hamlet. 

Corniglia is located in a central position in the Cinque Terre, east of Vernazza, to which it is connected with a fascinating walk halfway between hills and sea,  and Monterosso, and west of Manarola and Riomaggiore. Corniglia is slightly different from the other villages of the Cinque Terre as it is the only village that is not directly on the sea, but sits on top of a hill about ninety meters high, surrounded by beautiful terraced vineyards. The quickest way to reach Corniglia is on railway, then from its train station, climb a long staircase called Lardarina, consisting of 33 flights and 382 steps, or walk the winding Via Stazione. The whole village is spread along the main street, Via Fieschi, leading from the church of San Pietro to the panoramic terrace of Santa Maria.

 The origins of the village date back to Roman times; the name probably derives from Gens Cornelia, a family that owned this land. It is interesting  that during the excavations of Pompeii amphorae on which appeared the name of Cornelia”were found.
During the Middle Ages, like the villages nearby, the control of Corniglia was alternated among the counts of Lavagna, Luni and finally Genova.
In Corniglia, you can find some of the nicest secret beaches of the Cinque Terre : one of them, Guvano, is famous as it is normally attended by naturists, and can be reached with a nice walk of about an hour.
 Vernazza is probably the oldest village in the area of the Cinque Terre, and includes some of its most ancient buildings, evidences of the long history making the charm of this territory.

The first documented witnesses of the existence of Vernazza, which was the first castrum of the Cinque Terre, date back to a 1080 act mentioning the Castrum Vernatio as maritime base of the Obertenghi family; lords of Vernazza in the XI and XII, who probably used the natural harbor as a departing point for commercial ships and to defend the area against attacks by Saracen pirates. The  Marquisalso built  the first fortified premises of sight and, if necessary, of defense.

With the increasing commercial traffic and the development of the navy returned Vernazza was soon included in the orbit of the Republic of Genoa, who made Vernazza one of the main coastal bases for the commercial, political and above all territorial conquest of the eastern Riviera. An official allegiance to Genoa oath agreement was signed in 1209 among the 88 heads of the families of the Vernazza territory. 

Vernazza is a beautiful village, with a main street and a net of smaller “caruggi”, little streets going up the hill behind the town and studded with the very typical colorful Riviera houses.  Here you can find a lot of great typical fish restaurants and do some nice shopping.

Monterosso al Mare is located in the center of a small natural gulf, protected by a small artificial reef, east ofPunta Mesco in the Riviera of La Spezia. It is the westernmost part of the Cinque Terre.

To the west of the original village, is the village of Fegina, natural expansion characterized by a relatively modern tourist resort facility compared to the others in the Cinque Terre that is reachable through a tunnelof a few tens of meters. In Fegina is located the local train station.

The town was named for the first time in a document dated back to 1056 in which Guido Obertenghi, son of Adalbert II, made some donations on site Monte Russo. In the eleventh century, with the disintegration of the brand Obertenghi, the fiefdom possessions went to the counts Fieschi and later in the twelfth century to the local lords of Lagneto, in contrast with the Malaspina family, Lords in the Lunigiana valley. In the thirteenth century the territory of Monterosso, as well as the entire area of the Cinque Terre, as the territory of clashes be

tween the Republic of Genoa and the lordship of Pisa for the political control and the trade of this important stretch of eastern Liguria.

Monterosso has many signs of its long and fascinating history, and offers a lot of chances to enjoy a beautiful cultural and sea day.

Hiking in the Cinque Terre attracts thousands of tourists every year. Find information on how to do the Cinque Terre best hiking.

The network of paths of the Cinque Terre is extensive and branched. Among the many we chose the most popular and rewarding in terms of landscape. We also included paths leading from Portovenere and Campiglia since they have a great natural value and unmissable sights.
Some trails in the Cinque Terre are paid and in particular the paths of SVA (Green Blue Path) which connects the coast through all five boroughs. The easiest way to get access to these paid paths, if you want to follow them, is to buy the Cinque Terre Card. 

Riomaggiore Trails

 

Riomaggiore    Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero – Hills Ring.

 

It is an easy enough walk that involves 1hour uphill and 30 minutes for the return downhill to cover about 1,3 km (one-way) of a path with beautiful views. In orange on the map and marked 593V on the field. Vertical drop: 320 meters. Difficulty: E. (medium)

At first you cross the village and then penetrate through the vineyards of the hills. You’ll reach the Sanctuary in front of which you have a fantastic view that includes all five villages of the Cinque Terre.

If you do not want to go back to Riomaggiore along the same path, you can continue on SVA (blue green trail) in pink on the map to go up between scrub and woodland and then down among scattered houses and terraced vineyards. This path from the Sanctuary to Riomaggiore, which also crosses the coastal road, is 2,5 km walkable in about 2 hours.

 

Riomaggiore – Colle del Telegrafo.

 

From the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero you could instead take the path indicated in blue on the map and on the field as SVA (SVA in the part closest to the sanctuary not to be confused with the part SVA in pink that makes the ring to bring back to Riomaggiore)  crossing crops on terraces with excellent sea views and the coast. The last stretch of the route to get on the Colle del Telegrafo is more woodland. This trail is 1,9 km and walkable in 1 hour 30.
– Details on Riomaggiore as a village is under the heading Riomaggiore in “From La Spezia to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere” section.

 

Although  it has been done everything possible in the maps of this app to be accurate in tracing the paths we disclaim any liability on the accuracy of same.

 

 

Manarola trails

 

Via dell’Amore.

 

The most famous path of the Cinque Terre is the “Via dell’Amore” that links Manarola to Riomaggiore. It is an easy, mostly paved path, short (one mile), close to the sea. For all these reasons it can be very busy in summer. Because of a landslide has been closed for almost two years. Now it just reopened for part of its route from Manarola that it is still worthwhile to go. The total reopening is forecasted during 2018. In light green on the map.

 

Volastra and Groppo ring.
From Manarola one of the best courses to be walked in the Cinque Terre is what leads to higher villages Volastra and Groppo.  (Find these paths and the various deviations in Grey on the map). These routes pass through terraced vineyards and are quite tiring even if they are worth it. The path marked 506 on the ground starts from the center of the village and runs through it until you reach the church of San Lorenzo and the parking lot. From here you start to climb through vineyards and you get to the coastal paved road on which you’ll  take a short stretch and then take the path (still 506) to Volastra between scrubs and crops. Once in Volastra you cross it without forgetting a visit to the Shrine of Nostra Signora della Salute: a Romanesque church that contains ancient paintings. Then, after the car park of the village, continue on 506 and then 530 for a short stretch of road to the junction of 506V path to Groppo where you could visit the Cantina Sociale where most of the wines of the Cinque Terre are produced.  Then descends to Manarola coming on the graft of 506 on the coastal road. The described path will be about 4,5 km walkable in about 2 hours.

 

Manarola – Corniglia by the coast.

To reach Corniglia from Manarola  you can take the path green on the map and SVA in the field which is all along the sea cliffs first and then passes close to a long, narrow beach. The only part just more strenuous is the staircase, after the station, leading to Corniglia high on the cliff. The route is about 2,9 km walkable in 1 hour / 1 hour 30.

 

Manarola – Corniglia from the heights.

 

A scenic route from Manarola to Corniglia. From Manarola you will reach Volastra via the 506 path in gray on the map (described above).  At the Santuario della Nostra Signora della Salute you will have to take the blue path on the map and marked as 586 on the field. This trail passes through many terraced vineyards and offers beautiful views of the sea and coast. Then you’ll cross the scattered houses of Porciana and will continue into the bush until you get under Case Pianca where there is the junction with route 587 (blue as well) which will lead to Corniglia.

All the way from Manarola to Corniglia in this way will be about 5,3 km passable in 2/3 hours. Difficulty: E. (medium)

 

– Details on Manarola as a village is under the heading Manarola in “From La Spezia to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere” section.

 

Although  it has been done everything possible in the maps of this app to be accurate in tracing the paths we disclaim any liability on the accuracy of same.

 

 

 

Corniglia trails

 

Corniglia   It is the only one of the Cinque Terre to be built uphill and not directly on the sea. This does not make it less attractive compared to the other villages.

 

Corniglia – Vernazza.

 

The most obvious and easy path to be taken from Corniglia it is the one in yellow on the map and marked SVA on the field that leads to Vernazza in approximately 3,6 km. It can be done in less than 2 hours and passes through vineyards, olive groves and Mediterranean vegetation with beautiful cliff scenery. The view from the top of the path, on Vernazza that stretches to the sea when you get there, is priceless.

See other paths that arrive and depart from Corniglia in the sections of the paths of Manarola and Vernazza.

 

– Details on Corniglia as a village is under the heading Corniglia in “From La Spezia to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere” section.

 

Although  it has been done everything possible in the maps of this app to be accurate in tracing the paths we disclaim any liability on the accuracy of same.

 

 

Vernazza Paths

 

Vernazza – San Bernardino.

 

A beautiful path with sea views, steep at times, is the one which leads to the Santuario di Nostra Signora delle Grazie in San Bernardino from Vernazza. The first stretch of the path from Vernazza is the same that leads to Corniglia   (Yellow – SVA). A stop is a must on the terrace of the bar La Torre which offers you an enchanting view of Vernazza. Then you’ll  take the path green on the map and marked with the number 507 on the field, to go up among Mediterranean scrub at first and then cultivated terraces. From the path you’ll enjoy the best views of the Cinque Terre with Vernazza, Corniglia and Punta Mesco in the background. By crossing an asphalt road you come to the Sanctuary, which is quite modern for the Cinque Terre standards, but the view up there of the coastline, is incomparable.

The route is about 3,6 km. walkable in 1 hour 30 climbing and 40 minutes going own.

 

Vernazza – Madonna di Reggio – Monterosso.

The path north-east from Vernazza (blue on the map and marked 508 on the field) leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Reggio of the 13th Century (but often remodeled over the centuries) which contains the image of a Black Madonna called “African” by the locals. This route is not difficult and also passes through a Via Crucis in well-maintained marble slabs. Needless to say, from this path, the view is superb.

Length: 1.5 km for 45 min and difficulty E. (medium)

From the church you can continue for Monterosso with orange path 582 described in the section about the paths of Monterosso.

 

Vernazza – Monterosso.

Perhaps the most sought after by tourists is the route segment SVA (Red) that goes from Vernazza to Monterosso along the coast. It is the most difficult part of the SVA but it can be done in 2 hours between landscapes and stairways that literally take your breath away! It starts from behind the church of St. Margherita di Antiochia to go up to the cemetery after which the trail is steep to get this far at an altitude of 150 meters. Next is all ups and downs, not very demanding, among terraces and Mediterranean scrub up to the steep descent to Monterosso.

The trail is 3.6 km long with a vertical drop of  280 meters walking in 2 hours and difficulty E.
– Details on Vernazza as a village is under the heading Vernazza in “From La Spezia to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere” section.

 

Although  it has been done everything possible in the maps of this app to be accurate in tracing the paths we disclaim any liability on the accuracy of same.

 

 

Monterosso Trails

 

Monterosso – Madonna Soviore – Termine – Madonna di Reggio – Vernazza.

 

The path 509 (blue on map)  starts from the old part of Monterosso, providing access to the ancient (12th century) Sanctuary of the Madonna di Soviore. It will cross the entire ancient village northbound (Via Roma) until you get to the stairs that go up the ridge among olive and lemon trees. It goes then,along the steep path up to the road that leads to Monterosso. From here it brings into the forest of chestnut and acacia trees and finally arrives at the square of the Sanctuary. This trail is quite wide but steep and is suitable for experienced hikers. Along the way you’ll also find ancient chapels and stations of a Via Crucis.

Length: 1.75 km walkable in 1 hour and 45 min (return on the same route one hour). Vertical drop: 450 mt. Difficulty. EE (expert hikers).
 

From the sanctuary, if you will continue towards Madonna di Reggio and Vernazza, you will take the orange trail on the map marked by n. 591. The path is easy and almost entirely on the asphalt road uphill. It will be covered in just over 1 km in 20 minutes to get into the locality called  Termine.

 

From Termine you will leave the road to take the orange path, but marked by n. 582. It is a path rather easy in the Mediterranean vegetation and offering exceptional views. Then you’ll arrive on the road a short distance from Madonna diReggio.

This section 582 is 2.6 kilometers traveled in 45 min with 285 meters altitude. Difficulty E (medium).

 

From here to get to Madonna di Reggio and get off to Vernazza you must take the blue path marked as 508 already described in the section Vernazza Trail. Calculate 30 min. for the descent to Vernazza.

Entire route Monterosso – Vernazza through Soviore Madonna and Madonna di Reggio will be passable in 3 hours and 20 min.

 

Monterosso   – S. Antonio al Mesco.

 

From the most recent side of the village, built behind the famous beach Fegina, you will take the path purple on the map and marked SVA to go to Punta Mesco. After the first stretch between villas and palaces you start to climb among Mediterranean scrub but also under larger trees. Almost at the end of this path there is perhaps the best view of the whole of the Cinque Terre coastline and beyond, towards Portovenere and the islands. It will be necessary to take the detour in orange on the map to get to the chapel of St. Antonio al Mesco.
The route is 2 Km walkable in 1 hour, difficulty: E.

Hence, apart from embarking on the path of the mountains which leads to the Santuario della Nostra Madonna di Soviore described below, you can continue to Levanto on SVA whose path is in Levanto Trails section.

 

  1. Antonio al Mesco – Colla di Gritta – Madonna Soviore.

 

From the Monastery of St. Antonio al Mesco take the orange path on the map and marked with the n. 591.

It will be an up and down path between pine forests and Mediterranean bushes. It will cross many panoramic sights such as the Sella of Bagari, a focal point for various paths, from which you can see the Levanto coast as well as that of Monterosso and the Cinque Terre. Then it will come to the Colla di Gritta, another junction of roads and paths. From here continue to arrive at the Santuario della Nostra Madonna di Soviore above Monterosso where you can go down through the blue path on the map and with n. 509 already described above.

The path Mesco – Soviore is 6.4 km passable in 2 hours and 30 min. with difficulty E.

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