The Cinque Terre trails, Manarola

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  • Padlocks on the Via dell'Amore
    Padlocks on the Via dell'Amore
    by toonsarah
  • The Cinque Terre trails
    by goodfish
  • The Cinque Terre trails
    by goodfish
  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Hiking the Cinque Terre: General update 3/23/2015

    by goodfish Written Mar 23, 2015

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    An enormous amount of travelers come to the Cinque Terre to hike the fabled trails between the five villages in this UNESCO site.

    Yes, they're beautiful.
    Yes, you should do at least some of them if you are physically able to.
    Yes, you must purchase a pass to do that.
    No, it's not certain that every route will be open at any given time.

    • The heavily traveled Sentiero Azzurro - the Blue Trail/SVA ex.n. 2 which provides most direct route between the towns - has at least one section which has been closed for some years now, and three segments which have alternately been open or not depending on weather damage, rock slides and general repair. As this is the trail on practically every CT hiker's must-do list, consult the map before your trip, and then consult it again upon arrival as conditions can change in a hurry.

    Here's the map of all of the trails:

    http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/sentieri_parco.asp?id_lingue=2

    It shows you the length of each, the approximate time needed from start to completion, and level of difficulty; blue dot = easy; green dot=moderate; yellow dot = challenging; red dot= trail closed. Clicking on the name of any trail brings up a short description and location on a map.

    • As you'll see on the map, there other trails besides the Sentiero Azzurro which travel the hills farther above the villages. You can find some good suggestions for a few of those on the "Save Vernazza" website but do NOT use this for current updates; use the park's website for that:

    http://savevernazza.com/traveladvisortrailupdates/

    • All of the villages are accessible by train if the longer trails are too much for you

    • Boat service to 4 of the 5 villages is available during the warmer months: see my review under "Transportation".

    • Local bus service to less-visited towns in the area is also available:
    http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/spostarsi-nel-parco_2.asp?id_lingue=2

    So unless your heart is set on doing the Blue, there's no reason to cancel your trip. Those alternate routes will be less heavily traveled, and provide some terrific panoramas. You could also hike just short sections and double back instead of doing an entire length: the view will be completely different going the opposite way!

    Heck, the villages themselves have enough knee-punishing stairways and uphill slopes for a very decent workout. :)

    See this page of the park website for information about passes:

    http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/cosa-sono-le-cinque-terre-cards_2.asp?id_lingue=2

    And a last note: the park website can be frustrating to navigate, and segments may not be up to date or complete - as is true, as I'm typing this, for the trail chart in English above the map. Trail information available on the Italian chart - which is more complete - has not been fully translated or included on the English version, thus the blank spaces.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Via dell’Amore: the Freeway of Love

    by goodfish Updated Mar 23, 2015

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    (Lifted from my Manarola pages)

    Everyone else has written about this silly thing but what’s one more review, eh?

    The section of the Blue Trail (the Sentiero Azzurro or SVA ex. n. 2 on a CT trail map) that runs between Riomaggiore and Manarola is more pedestrian highway than hiking path. It is flat; it is paved; it is short (about 1/2 mile); all of which makes it attractive to any tourist who can put one foot in front of the other.

    The “Way of Love” has less-than-romantic origins as the route to a shed used to store gunpowder. When the Genoa-LaSpezia railway line was constructed around the early part of the century, explosives were needed to blast a tunnel between between the two towns. The locals not being keen on keeping large amounts of volatile material in their already avalanche-imperiled villages, a trail was carved on the outside of the seaside cliffs, and the warehouse strategically positioned in the middle for access to the powder from either direction.

    After the railway was completed, the locals decided that the path was a useful route for other purposes so they kept it shoveled of debris from frequent landslides and gave it name: Strada Nuova or “New Road.” The young men of one village found it especially convenient for canoodling with young ladies from the other, and their declarations of affection - scrawled or carved upon the rocky walls - eventually earned it the Italian equivalent of “Lovers' Lane.” Tourists have, as tourists do, run wild with this story and added their own graffiti as well as thousands of those annoying little padlocks that are rusting away in spooning spots all over the world.

    Before 8:00 or so in the evening you will need a Cinque Terre park pass to walk it even if you don’t intend to do any of the other trails. Pick one of those up at the park office in the train station or at the small hut on the path itself. If you go on from Manarola to visit Corniglia on the same day, you may also use it to ride the little green bus that travels between the train station and the village.

    One warning: the path may occasionally be closed to landslides or maintenance - as it is at the time of this update.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Via dell' Amore

    by toonsarah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This tip also appears as an “Off the Beaten Path” one on my Riomaggiore page so describes the walk as it seemed to us starting from there.
    The most southerly stretch of the footpath that links the five Cinque Terre villages is known as the Via dell' Amore, linking Riomaggiore with Manarola. It is the shortest, and the easiest to walk, being paved and level for all of its length apart from the steps up to it (and there is a lift available for those unable to climb these). We didn’t intend that this would be the only part we walked, but the heat, lack of time and vagaries of local transport got the better of us. So in the end, this was the only stretch we walked, and while we loved it and enjoyed the views, its popularity and relative ease of access have their downsides in the numbers of other people you will encounter (including a gaggle of bored American teenagers in our case) and some rather ugly graffiti. Please don’t let these deter you though, as this is still a lovely walk. It’s about a kilometre in length, and the leaflet suggests that it will take about 20 minutes, but we took longer as we stopped often for photos and also once for a drink (see below).

    As well as the views, we especially liked the local custom of couples here, who lock a padlock to the railings to represent the strength of their own union (see photo 4). Some are engraved with names or mottos, others are just as they came from the hardware shop, and together they present a wonderful record of so many people’s love for each other.

    We also liked the little café towards the Manarola end of the path. OK we didn’t really need a rest or a drink on such an easy walk, but the views here have to be among the best from any café we have visited, so we just had to stop for a coffee in order to really make the most of them. You can see the cliffs and the deep blue sea immediately below where you sit, and round the next headland Manarola perches precariously on its hillside, luring you on. The little shop here also sells some nice postcards by the way.

    Despite a button that says “English” the website below is only in Italian, but it has some wonderful images that transcend any linguistics difficulties.

    By the way, I’ve seen many descriptions that refer to the whole of the path from Riomaggiore to Monterosso as the “Via dell’Amore”, but it is only this stretch that officially has that title so this can be a little confusing.

    Manarola from the Via dell'Amore On the Via dell'Amore Looking down from the Via dell'Amore Padlocks on the Via dell'Amore

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    Maranola to Corniglia Trail

    by wilocrek Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is the second trail if your hiking towards Montresso. This is the second shortest trail at roughly between 30 to 40 minutes. The path offers wonderful views of the ocean and the trail actually follows the shoreline all the way to Corniglia. The path is easy to navigate and is fairly level, there are a couple inclines as you get to the shoreline. The trail is not as well paved as Lover's Lane so be prepared for a more rustic experience. The biggest challenge is at the end of the trail, just past the train station, there are 320 steps that criss cross to the top. However it is well maintained and its a relatively easy climb. However if you don't feel like climbing the stairs there is a bus that leaves from the train station that will take you to the top.

    The steps to Corniglia

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  • kathymof's Profile Photo

    Short hike in Manarola

    by kathymof Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There is a high path that winds around Manarola on the north side of the town. It will eventually connect with the trail that is along the water. It is a nice walk with great views of this charming village. There is actually a lot to see along and from the trail - houses, churches, shrines, cemeteries, cats, grape vines, vegetable gardens and fruit trees

    Fruit trees on path Vegetable garden The path through grape vines and trees The cemetery Shrine along the path - war memorial

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  • tini58de's Profile Photo

    Via dell'Amore

    by tini58de Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Walking to Manarola from Riomaggiore is a wonderful option! The Via dell'Amore is the first part of the hiking trails connecting all five villages of Cinque Terre. The Via itself is not really a trail, it is a paved footpath leading from Riomaggiore to Manarola. It is easy walking - no climbing at all! For all of those who do not want to do strenuous hiking (or maybe can't do it for health reasons), this is the thing to do!

    The walk starts directly behind the Riomaggiore train station and will take about 30 minutes. There is even a restaurant/café halfway of the tour! It ends at the Manarola train station, from where you will have to go through a tunnel to reach the village itself.

    The Via dell'Amore is part of the Cinque Terre National Park, so you will have to pay an entrance fee, which in 2006 was 3 € for a day pass.

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    The Romantic Way

    by deeper_blue Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The walk from/to Riomaggiore takes you along the Via Dell'Amore. It is indeed a scenic spot with some great views. You are supposed to pay for a ticket, but there isn't always someone in the ticket booth.

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    Hiking the Cinque Terre

    by mspetter Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages that wrap along the Ligurian Sea. A hiking trail connects the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterossa. The trail varies in complexity, with the easiest segment running from Riomaggiore through Manarola. This is a photographer's paradise! Homes of extraordinary colors tandemmed with the magnificent shades of the Ligurian. You can take a direct train to the Cinque Terre, or transfer at La Spezia. If you do not want to hike, you can take a train from one village to the next.

    View of Manarola Riomaggiore Viewing Vernazza
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Architecture
    • National/State Park

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  • johnandlynclarke's Profile Photo

    The upper trails

    by johnandlynclarke Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Our first full day in Cinque Terre was a Sunday of a three day holiday weekend! The tourists, Italians and all others, descended on CT like locusts in a corn field. It was WILD.

    We took the day to explore the trails ABOVE Manarola. There are more trails then the ones usually referred to by the guide books. We chose to walk to Volastra. Part of the trail is along the highway, part goes through a tiny village of Groppo, part goes through the olive groves, and part wanders through the hills in very varied terrain. The trail markers are two horizontal stripes; one red one white about 8 inches long. It looked like the markers had just been repainted before we got there, luckily. Sometimes it is tricky to find these markers. We lost the trail in Groppo and we had retrace our steps until we found it again.

    At Volastra, we stopped at the only open bar, had a beer, rested for a bit then headed out for Corniglia. The trail to Corniglia has a lot of stone steps, the terrain is more varied, and we had to be careful because it had rained the previous day or two and the route was slippery in spots. The views approaching Corniglia were stunning. From Corniglia, we went down the 33 flights of stairs and continued back home to Manarola. This last segment is easy with some uneven surfaces. The entire hike took us about 8 hours.

    Our first view of Volastra John outside Volastra Continuing along the trail Where the mountains meet the sky trail marker
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    • National/State Park

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    Cinque Terra Trail Passes through Manarola

    by NeeNaVal Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    As you travel the trail through Manarola, take time to walk through the quaint little streets to discover Italian delights you'll want to eat, drink, and carry home. And spend a few minutes enjoying the boat-filled harbor, though you'll see boats stored in the streets as well.

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    Cinque Terra Trail Passes through Manarola

    by NeeNaVal Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As you travel the trail through Manarola, take time to walk through the quaint little streets to discover Italian delights you'll want to eat, drink, and carry home. And spend a few minutes enjoying the boat-filled harbor, though you'll see boats stored in the streets as well.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Arts and Culture

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    The Cinque Terre trails

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The highlight of a trip to the Cinque Terre is a hike between the 5 villages. The distance from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare is 12kms, and a lot of the trail is steep and rocky.

    The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola is the easiest. It is paved all the way, and the hardest part is probably the flight of stairs from the station at Riomaggiore up to the start of the path. Other than that the path is fairly flat and suitable for prams and high heels. This section of the trail is called the Lovers Lane. The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola is 1km long and takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on how long you stop to gaze at the view!

    The next section of the walk is from Manarola to Corniglia. This section is 3km long and takes about 1 hour. Parts of this trail are again pretty easy, but it is steeper and at times the ground is uneven under foot. The most exhausting part of this section is at the end, once you arrive at Corniglia train station. The station is located at the bottom of the hill, by the ocean, but the town of Corniglia is located on top of the hill....and there are approx 365 stairs to climb up to get up to the village!!

    My favourite part of the hike is the section between Corniglia and Vernazza. This is the most scenic part, through varied landscapes - you walk through olive groves and forest, and then along the cliff edge, with spectacular views coming into Vernazza. This section is 4km long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete, though we found ourselves stopping quite a bit to admire the views - not because we were tired or anything ; )

    The section between Vernazza and Monterosso is the most difficult. It is 4kms long and has lots of ups and downs and steep stairs. It is little less scenic than the others, but you do get a good view of some of the local vineyards. The beauty of Monterosso makes up for it all, plus the availability of a gelato or refreshing vino bianco at one of the many bars helps to ease those weary legs!!

    Manarola walking into Manarola Manarola landscape Manarola Harbour Manarola behind the cliff
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Budget Travel

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    Forgotten Water on the Hike

    by SJTravel Written Aug 4, 2007

    One thing I found in Manarola that I didn't see in any of the other villages on the hike, is the woman selling bottled water right when you get off the trail. If you have started your hike and you forgot to bring a water bottle, don't worry. I found someone in Manarola waiting at the trail entrance selling water. I asked a couple of people and they said it was common for the people who live/work in the villages to be selling water. However, the only place I saw this was in Manarola. If you want to save time, you can just get a water bottle from one of the people there selling them. You may be paying a little more for the water, but it will definitely save you time, and the leg strength of having to go around town searching for water.

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Comments (1)

  • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Sarah; This commentary was not only superbly written but also very helpful as we prepare for a 3 1/2 week trip to Italy. Some great photos as well. Ty.

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Jan 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Kate. I was aware of the closures in the area due to the flooding but the current status is very helpful. Thanks for the link and update!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Jan 17, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Actually, almost all of the Blue was open when we hiked it last May; only the section between Corniglia/Manarola was closed and that one had been shut down for quite some time before the flood. A rockslide on Via dell' Amore badly injured some hikers this past fall so they shut the entire route up again. I am hoping that they have most of it open again this spring, though.

      And I agree: Sarah wrote a superb review, didn't she???!!!!! :O)

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