Liguria’s Eastern Riviera boasts some of Italy’s most dramatic coastline the highlight of which is the Cinque Terre National Park.
The Unesco listed park is named after its 5 small villages Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Our plan was to visit all 5 villages using the 12k Sentiero Azzurro hiking trail and return by train (there is a train line that links each of the towns through railway tunnels).
We set off from Monterosso on foot to the start of the trail where you have to purchase a Cinque Terre Card for each person to allow you to walk the trail EUR 5 ea.
The beginning of the trail (mainly 100s of steps) climbs up from Monterosso through small terraced vinyards, up along the cliff edge above Monterosso, up and down some ravines emerging high above the town of Vernazza. The path descends into the town via another series of steep paths and steps. 3k up and down steps is a long way! However the views were magnificent and it was great descending into the town from above.
Unfortunately the hiking track between Vernazza and Corniglia was closed so we decided to train to the last town of Riomaggiore and work our way back to Corniglia and train back to Monterosso.
|Cinque Terre National Park – Manarola
We got off the train a stop to early in Manarola, Not a problem explored the town for a while and headed off toward Riomaggiore on foot. Did not know where the trail started howvever as we walked up out of the village Trish saw a red and white trail marker and some arrows on the road, so off we went following the markers.
The trail followed the road up and out of the town, this seemed a little odd however we expected it to branch off along the top of the cliff.
We kept climbing up higher and higher and the track did turn right but through a 500m road tunnel? the arrows pointed through the tunnel so on we went to emerge on a long bridge over the next ravine. It was a great view from the bridge and we could see Riomaggiore on the coast below us. It was immediately (albeit too late) apparent that we were out on our own and not walking the coastal trail!!
|Cinque Terre – Manarola to Riomaggiore the long way around
Come to far to turn back now so, we continued on following the road until we reached a coach parking area high above the village. The arrows had stopped and it was time to study the map more closely. We must have walked passed the track down into the town, so we retraced our steps and found a tiny dirt path leading toward the cliff edge but in the direction of the town.
The path was the right one as it soon turned into a series of steps leading steeply down between terraced vinyards and orchards emerging behind the church.
On the way down we could see a flat concrete footpath going around the base of the cliffs with tourists casually strolling between the towns.
Even though our walk was a couple of hours longer and up and down the mountain we both decided that we had a great adventure and liked our walk better!! After exploring the town, a rest and a cuppachino and beer watching the ocean, we would of course walk back to Manarola along the tourist path. (Trish may have mumbled something about catching the train back)
As it turned out the walk back was an easy 15-20 min stroll and is obviously the section of the walk taken by the coach tourists and the more elderly.
We had planned to be back at the Hymermobile at around 3pm for a 4pm departure. It was already well past that and Trish was more than happy to take the train back to Monterossa.
|Cinque Terre National Park – Riomaggiore and Monterosso
Back at the Hymermobile about 5pm even though we were tired after a long day we were not paying another A$35 for a car park space so we packed up and headed up the winding road to the Autostrada and to Pisa.
We found a motorhome parking area close to the leaning tower. It was a warm evening and we surprised ourselves by going for a reconnaissance walk to try and find the famous tower to see what it looked like at night time.
The streets of Pisa at night are not so great, with noisy busy roads. After walking around for a while we found the Pisa’s Cathedral Square and its iconic Leaning Tower.
Click read more below for more photos…………..
This territory was long isolated and the characteristic Ligurian culture has been conserved. The five villages were only reached by the outside world about one hundred years ago, when the railway line was built.
Monterosso has the best beaches of the Cinque Terre villages and the most wine shops, artisan shops, hotels and restaurants. The village is divided into two parts from San Cristoforo hill and the old part of the village, protected by a rock spur, still presents the maritime village.
The Cinque Terre is a National Park and territory protected by UNESCO. This zone is characterised by the presence of typical steep slopes cultivated with vines thanks to terraces, unique witness of the transformation of the territory carried out by mans hard work.The suggestive kind of coast falling sheer to the sea, with cliffs which are often vertical, alternated with small creeks and enchanting beaches among rocks, with depths rich in fish, make this territory a real Natural “work of art”.
whc.unesco.org/nwhc/pages/doc/mainf3.htm: the UNESCO web site
The village of Manarola is surrounded by vines and is situated along a stream. The wine of Manarola is very famous and the “Via dell’ Amore” starts here: an easy to walk, paved path a distance of two kilometres, connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore.
In the upper side of the Manarola village, we suggest to visit the church of San Lorenzo (1338) with its beautiful rose window dating back to the 14th century.