The Cinque Terre.
The famous five villages of the Cinque Terre cling like limpets to the rocky
Ligurian shore. At their back ancient terraced vineyards still produce the fine
Cinque Terre wines whilst their feet are lapped by the blue waters of the Riviera
di Levante. Until recent times only accessible on foot or by boat the villages
are now easily reached by train or boat (by car is still almost impossible).
Well-marked, safe footpaths connect the villages and there are also a series
of paths connecting to villages a little way inland.
The area offers a range of walks from short easy strolls to longer, more ambitious
hikes. It is also possible to visit all five villages by "train hopping" from one village to the next.
Where is it? What is it, and how do I get there?
The Cinque Terre lies on Italy's western seaboard just to the north-west of
the elegant city of La Spezia and to the south of Genoa. The five villages that
make up the Cinque Terre are (from the south); Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia,
Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
Inland of the Cinque Terre heavily wooded hills topped by medieval villages
rise to the high peaks of the Apennines. Slightly to the south Portovenere faces
the lovely seaside resort of Lerici across the Golfo della Spezia and the Golfo
di Poeti (Gulf of Poets), named for Byron and Shelly who drowned there.
On its south-western side the region borders Lunigiana - the unknown corner
of Tuscany thrusting between the Alpi Apuane Regional Park, the mighty Apennines,
and the sea.
Walking the Cinque Terre.
A direct coastal path (Pathway No. 2) links all five villages of the Cinque
Terre. Distances between the villages vary but none are over-long though terrain
varies from flat paved stretches to sharply rising rough paths. Sensible sturdy
walking shoes are essential. Estimated walking times between the villages using
the direct coastal path are;
- Riomaggiore to Manarola 30 minutes
- Manarola to Corniglia 1 hr 10 minutes
- Corniglia to Vernazza 1 hr 45 minutes
- Vernazza to Monterosso 1 hr 45 minutes
Maps are available at tourist information centers and at the railway stations.
Riomaggiore is the starting point for the short but spectacularly beautiful
cliff-side walk, the so-called "Via dell'Amore" to Manarola. Although
it is a port and seaside resort the village is not serviced by boat.
Manarola is perched on a promontory above the sea and can be reached
by boat from Portovenere as well as by train. You can also take the boat from
Manarola to Vernazza.
Corniglia is the least visited of the five villages and stands on a
high promontory overlooking the sea. A long flight (about 300ft) of steps leads
from the railway station up to the village and no doubt accounts for its relative
lack of popularity with visitors to the Cinque Terre.
Vernazza is generally regarded as the most attractive of the villages
and is a Mecca for tourists. There are several reasonably priced places to eat
down by the small harbour and plenty of opportunity for painters and photographers
to pursue their interest.
Monterosso. Situated at the northern end of the Cinque Terre
Monterosso is easily accessed by train or boat from Levanto which is the best
starting point for people staying in our properties in the Cornice and Rio area.
Like the other villages it has a good range of facilities. The pathway shown
in the photograph goes to Vernazza and has some fair climbs in places and though
the condition of the path is generally reasonable care is needed.
There are many other marked routes (some 58 in all) which can be used individually
or in combination to give the widest possible variety of route and terrain.
The Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre produces a series of pamphlets - one
for each path, which are available free of charge from tourist offices and railway
The best way to get to and from the Cinque Terre itself is by train - although
there are also boats from several places along the coast. The schematic map
shows the main railway lines in the area illustrating that the villages are
readily reached from a variety of starting points.
Journey times are short and prices very modest. The following extract from
the summer timetable illustrates journey times:
Trains stop at all five villages, and because your ticket is valid for six
hours from the time of validation (not purchase) you can combine walking with
"train-hopping" if you wish - the really easy way to do it!
From Aulla to La Spezia takes only 25 minutes by train and staying in the Aulla
area has the advantage of being on the edge of the Alpi Apuane regional park
and gives easy access by train or road to the Renaissance cities. Boats make
regular shuttle runs between La Spezia, Lerici, Portovenere, Levanto and Sestri