cinque terre, Liguria
The hike between Corniglia and Vernazza was quite demanding but very pretty! The path was rockier and steeper than earlier sections, but the scenery in the olive groves and vineyards we walked through made it more than worthwhile. And then there was Vernazza! The village is centered on a beach with a piazza surrounded by bars, pizzerias and restaurants. When we arrived, it was late in the afternoon, so after a bit of exploring and some gelato, we settled down at an umbrella-covered table and sipped wine while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean. . . Sigh . . .
When we were ready, we strolled up to the train station and caught our ride back to La Spezia, where our hotel bed awaited! We still had one more Cinque Terre village to see, so the next morning, we hopped back on the train to Monterosso and hiked back south to Vernazza. But I'll write about that on the Monterosso tip!
At the end of Lover's Lane, you're rewarded with the village of Manarola. Due to the rough waves, the fishing boats were all pulled up onto the town streets. There were too many shops, gelaterias and restaurants to choose from. We were in tourist overload!
But I thought the highlight of Manarola was the cemetery. It was different from anything else I've seen. There was a structure that formed a courtyard. Along the walls of the structure, there were vaults where the deceased are laid to rest. But the most interesting thing was that the people of Manarola have found a way to put a photograph of their loved ones on the face of the vault. So you could see the pictures of the people who had a hand in Manarola's history. Some photos were quite old - turn of the century or older. It was very interesting!
This paved playground is small, with some swings, a slide, and a climbong device. But it was a nice place for the kids to run a round, while we ate our picnic lunch on the benches they have here.
It was also not crowded, as most of the crowds congregate down by the water. If you need a safe place to let the kids play while the parents can take a break, check out this playground.
There are a number of trails, at different difficuly levels, that connect the cinque Terre towns. Walking at least a few of these is a must. The views along these trails are quite amazing with various plants, citrus trees, vinyards, olive orchards, and more along the way.
There are areas along the way with benches and sometimes tables to take a break. There's even a cafe along the main trail between Manorola and Coniglia. When you buy your ticket to enter the trails, you'll get a map of the trail network to help you out.
More info on the transportation tip]
With a little of everything, this is our favorite stop on the Cinque Terre.
Castle ruins overlooking the most picturesque harbour and pastel buildings. The town has got plenty of shops & restaurants, and a small park for the kids to run around just north of the train station.
the photo I took from the harbour on my Liguria home page can say the rest.
The town of Manarola is small and peaceful.
If coming from Riomaggiore or the train station, you'll arrive through a pedestrian tunnel; this tunnel was used by the town residents to seek shelter during air raids of WWII.
From the Tunnel you enter town close to the elevated Piazza, usually kids playing here and our Daughter was fascinated by the inlay fish in the Piazza.
Heading up the hill you have the church, and about 1 KM up is a parking area.
Continue towards the water with shops, gelato and cafes and a few decent restaurants; this direction leads you to the trail and on to Corniglia.
Don't miss the opportunity to walk these paths of the Cinque Terre; you are right at the edge of the cliffs. There are two levels of difficulty. The higher the pathway, the more difficult the walk and the longer it takes. So, judge what your capabilities are and choose wisely.
The scenery is captivating. Allan and I were impressed with the color of the sea...a strange combination of blue and green. In addition, we were also impressed with the picturesque villages; each with its own personality.
By the time we got to Corniglia, it was well into the afternoon and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. We were starving! Corniglia is perched at the top of a hill and by the time we got there, we were very ready to eat. Luckily, there were plenty of cafes, delicatessens and snack bars to choose from. If anything, we had too many choices and we took a little too long to decide where to go. In the end, we found a little hole in the wall pizzaria, where we got a few slices of focaccia, which really hit the spot! We chose a little park bench with a view of the trail behind us and enjoyed!
From La Spezia, the first train stop of the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. At the La Spezia train station, there is a tourist office with all the information you need for your Cinque Terre hike. The Cinque Terre is now part of the Italian national park system, so you have to pay to hike it. At the tourist office you can buy one ticket that covers your rail fare (unlimited between La Spezia and Genova) and your hiking pass. The ticket costs 5.20 Euro for one day. You can also buy a pass that covers you for 3 or 7 days. Make sure you validate your ticket at one of the little yellow machines at the train stations. They don't check for validation on the train (as far as I could tell), but they do check it at the hiking checkpoints at the outskirts of each village. Don't lose your ticket!
At the La Spezia train station, there is also a snack bar where you can pick up snacks and sports drinks or water for your hike. Keep yourself hydrated!
There are photo opportunities at every turn. These were all taken on the footpath between Manarola and Corniglia.