Italian adventure. Cinque Terre part 2
We continue our trip to Cinque Terre today. On our last post we were telling you about Monterosso and Vernazza and now we get to talk about Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We were telling you that Cinque Terre are famous for the trails between each village, making it a perfect destination for both sea and mountain lovers. If you prefer the mountains, you should book a few days for this trip if you want to hiking in Cinque Terre. And don’t forget the appropriate footwear. The trails within the Cinque Terre National Park were built not for recreational purposes, but rather as transportation and supply between the villages. There are more than 100 trails, 38 of them being the most frequented and 5 of them closed because of the floods in 2011. They are expected to be opened in 2016-2017. You’ll need the Cinque Terre Card for hiking the trails.
The most famous and popular is the #2 Trail, Sentiero Azzuro or the Blue Path, divided into four sections and connects all the five villages of the Cinque Terre. It is 12 km long and it will take you about 6 hours. From La Spezia, the first path is Riomaggiore-Manarola, the most famous and shortest of them all, only 1,5 km, also known as the “Lover’s Lane”. Next is the Manarola-Corniglia path, 3 km long, passing by Corniglia train station where you have to climb 400 steps to continue on the trail. Unfortunately, these two paths were badly damaged by the landslides and are still closed today. The path from Corniglia to Manarola is 4 km long, reopened in 2015 and is on a higher altitude than the others. The last section between Vernazza and Monterosso is 3,5 km long and it was reopened in 2014. We think that it’s worth a few days of your trip if you want to enjoy both the sea and the mountains.
The village is the only one without access from the sea, being located on top of a hill, 100 meters above the sea level. From the train station to the village you can take the bus or go by foot. We preferred walking since we didn’t know how long we could wait for the bus. We reached Lardarina footpath, an uphill section with 377 steps that was a little challenging in July’s scorching heat. There’s not much to do here, you just walk on the ancient streets and drink a granita from fresh local lemons. Once you reach the highest point it will be worth it though. You’ll get the greatest view of the sea and the olive and vineyard hills. We stopped there for a while to rest and to take photos from every angle for the perfect pictures.
Manarola and Vernazza seem to be the most popular villages from the 5 of them and the most picturesque we think. Manorola dates from back 1338 and the train station here has the most beautiful view, with the railroads ending just on the end of the cliff. To go to the village you must walk into a stone tunnel and then you reach the only main road with lots of boats “parked” there. When you look for pictures of Cinque Terre online, most of them will be the ones with the piazzeta and gulf from Vernazza and the ones with the colorful houses on a cliff in Manarola. This was our image about Manarola also and we had to find the exact spot these pictures were taken. We immediately discovered it following the many tourists that were heading on a section of a path that leads to Via dell’Amore (you can walk on it until you reach some locked gates). After many pictures trying to find the perfect angle and make room between the other tourists (because you don’t want random people in your vacation pictures), we stopped on a stone bench to admire the view in front of us. Now, don’t expect what you’ll see there to be exactly like the pictures on the Internet. The colors of the houses are more faded, the passing of the time and the weather took their toll on them and they don’t benefit from the powers of Photoshop and Instagram filters. But they are still very beautiful and surrounded by a touch of romanticism.
Riomaggiore is the first and most Southern village from La Spezia, its origins dating from 8th century. Apparently its name comes from a river that flows under the main street. We found Riomaggiore the most “difficult” village, maybe because it was the last one we visited and we were already tired from all the climbing up and down the hills on that heat. It has the most steep road that we couldn’t pay attention to all the condiment and local merchandise stores. From there we arrived at an old church and walk on the streets without a care in the world until someone decided to throw a bucket of water from the balcony on traveling sister Simy. She has good reflexes and the water didn’t land on the camera, her hair dried pretty fast, but all the pictures we had taken would have been lost for good. People were dumbfounded and starring at the balcony and an old lady even came to ask us what had happened and started yelling at the people inside that house.
All the walking around the villages left us very tired and we almost fell asleep on the train back to La Spezia. We got back to our car that thank God it was still where we had left it and continued our road trip back to Varese.