Walking Tour of the Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre refers to five villages on the Italian Riviera (the Levante coast) in the province of Liguria. The villages all have in common the fact that they are precipitously situated on cliffs that seem to topple into the sea. They are also not very accessible — there are few roads leading in and out and only paths connect the villages.
You should plan on spending plenty of time visiting each village, because each one has its own particular charm and individuality.
Begin your hike in the village of Riomaggiore, the easternmost of the five towns. Here, in the most accessible village, you can obtain tickets and a trail map. Take the Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro), and plan on an entire day to accomplish the eight-mile trek, since you will also spend some time in each village.
The first part of your walk, the section from Riomaggiore to Manarola, is known as the Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane). When you arrive in Manarola, descend into town to get a closer look at the enchanting pastel-colored houses, as well as the pretty cove and harbor.
The nest leg is a bit longer (about two miles) and leads to the most remote of the villages, Corniglia. This cliff-top community has a lovely church, San Pietro, on its attractive Main Square.
The ancient Roman town of Vernazza, next in line, is, perhaps, the loveliest of all the villages, with its pink-slate roofs, narrow streets linked by steep steps, and ruins of a medieval fort and castle, as well as several distinctive towers.
Getting to the next town requires considerably more effort and energy, but the views, along the coastline, are even more spectacular. The last of the villages, Monterosso al Mare, is the largest and often the busiest, because there are more visitor services here. Its Centro Historico (Historic Center) contains a medieval tower, the Aurora, and a beautiful, photogenic, black-striped church, the Chiesa di San Francisco.
My suggestion, when you reach Monterosso al Mare, is to spend some time in town and then return to Riomaggiore by train.