Just Returned From → Dead Sea, Jordan. Headed To → Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my adventurous life—it’s how to BE PREPARED.

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Hiking Town-to-Town in Cinque Terre, Italy

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Italy’s most famous national park merges quality hikes with tasty pizza and decadent wines.

In This Italy Travel Article You Will Discover:

  • Advice for Hiking in Cinque Terre
  • The Beauty of the National Park
  • Pitfalls to Avoid
  • And More!

I was pronouncing Cinque Terre incorrectly for a long time before someone turned me around.

It was so bad that when asked if I would be visiting “Chin’kway Tar’ay,” I would shake my head no.

I will be going to Sink Tare, though!

Learning some basic Italian is sound advice before heading to Italy. The language gap between English speakers and Italians is often huge. It pays dividends to try, even if you butcher it.

I’m a hiker. And I knew on this particular trip, we’d be spending most of our time in cafes, browsing city streets and at my sister-in-law’s wedding, of course.

But it also overlapped my birthday. On your birthday, you get what you want. And I wanted to hike town-to-town in Cinque Terre.

Well, we were hit with some disappointment right off the bat. The famous Lover’s Lane pathway from Riomaggiore to Manarola was closed. (I heard through the grapevine it’s open now.)

So we day-tripped those two towns, then on my b-day, we hopped a train to Monterosso al Mare and started hiking southeast for as long as daylight allowed.

Join me?

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Riomaggiore is popular for good reason. It’s likely what you picture when you think of Cinque Terre. This view from the waterfront is classic Italy. Just behind the red building, you see people hiking towards Lover’s Lane. They, like us, were disappointed that day. But it’s open now.

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Up in the hills you’ll find the more challenging and uber-scenic High Path (Trail #1) of Cinque Terre. When I return—and I will—I’ll likely challenge those routes. For this trip, I wanted to hike the iconic seaside trail to take in those coastal views. (Riomaggiore pictured.)

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Picking a favourite town in Cinque Terre is like picking a favourite Italian wine. You can narrow it down to two, at best. But if I had to choose, Manarola might be it.

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We rode a train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare (pictured) with the goal of hiking back through as many towns as we could. It’s actually only 11 kilometres end-to-end—easily done in a day, even with the steep climbs out of each town. The problem lies in that when you arrive in these charming villages, you dawdle… and willingly burn daylight.

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The view back towards Monterosso—immediately classic Cinque Terre. This is why we chose the seaside route—a.k.a. the “Blue Path,” or Trail 2. Once again, the grapevine (not the ones pictured here, the metaphorical grapevine) is saying some sections of this trail are closed now, even though Lover’s Lane is actually open. Hey—it’s tough maintaining a 1,000-year-old pathway.

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It’s not wilderness. Far from it. But it still offers some wonderful views of the Mediterranean coastline; replete with lemon trees, vineyards, ancient stone paths and moody skies.

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Descending into Vernazza—another classic view lies right around this corner. En route, you’ll pass funky little houses that seem like they’re about to crumble into the Mediterranean, random accordion-playing buskers, a cat sanctuary and lemon trees just begging to be picked (but don’t, they’re not yours).

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It’s steep, at times. And it kind of lulls you, as it’s so developed and well-travelled. But a rolled-ankle or tumble in sections like this would be a disaster. It’s wise to take it slow. (Wondering where our supplies are? They’re on my back. Yeah… I guess being the birthday boy isn’t all roses.)

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That’s the view—we snapped about 10 photos here. Wait long enough and a fellow hiker will stop by; you can trade photo-for-photo to get a cutesy pic of you and your travelling companion. The backdrop makes the ideal humblebraggy desktop picture.

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The stone walls of Corniglia await. Unlike the rest of the towns, Corniglia is set high above the water—almost like a fortress. It has a distinct look and feel. While towns like Manarola and Riomaggiore are basically twinsies, Corniglia is unmistakable. It was my wife’s favourite. Not mine. I like the seaside.

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Looking southeast from Corniglia. This was as far as we got that day. Too much window-shopping in Monterosso. Too long a lunch in Vernazza. And by Corniglia, we were just too tired. (OK, maybe the wine and gelato had something to do with it.) We hoped the train was just around the corner, but it was a staggering 300 steps down from town. Knees, don’t fail me now… Needless to say, the 200 stone-steps at our hotel lost their novelty that day.

Benefit to all this climbing? Eat as much pasta as you like.

(As if I wasn’t going to anyway.)

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

2 comments… add one
  • Madonna Grill Jul 17, 2018

    Beccara Trails is one of the most challenging trails in the Cinque Terre, so only embark on this if you are an experienced hiker with the proper shoes and are prepared to climb about 600 sone steps.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience in Cinque Terre, David!

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