CinqueTerre (“Five Lands”) is a cluster of five fishing villages perched atop the steep hills on the coast of Italy’s Ligurian Sea. No cars, no modern constructions – just sheer old world charms! The villages are connected by ferries, trains and networks of breathtaking hiking trails. It is also a gastronomic paradise.
After an adventurous series of train rides from Milan, we finally reached Vernazza late at night. Vernazza was our home base for 3 nights during our hiking and gastronomic adventure in Cinque Terre.
The kitchens of the village restaurants were closed by the time we arrived. Thank God, this delightful bar had few sandwiches left that saved our famished stomachs. It became our go to place for breakfast and after dinner drink during our stay.
Top: Devouring the bruschetta and panini. Mangia!
Bottom: Food gone in seconds.
Keith descending from a steep flight of stairs from our room. (Vernazza is a village of stairs!) All set for the hike!
Most people hike the entire seven mile trail of Cinque Terre in a day, starting from Riomaggiore (Town #1) and ending in Monterroso (Town #5) or vice versa. We decided to hike the trail over two days. We wanted to spend more time exploring each town instead of just passing through them. On the third day, we relaxed and enjoyed more of our charming home base of Vernazza, considered the jewel of Cinque Terre.
We started our hike in Cinque Terre’s town #1, Riomaggiore. This is the tunnel that leads into Riomagiorre’s town center from the train station.
Bride and groom walking to the port of Riomaggiore.
VIA DELL’ AMORE (RIOMAGIORRE – MANAROLA TRAIL)
After exploring Riomaggiore, we headed to the start of Riomagiorre- Manarola trail. This segment is the easiest, widest and most developed (it’s paved) among the trails. It is called Via dell’ Amore –“Path of Love” – as it was the lovers’ meeting point between men and women from both towns when the trail opened after World War II.
Food in Cinque Terre is either freshly caught, hand made, home made, locally produced, and organic. No mass produced, no processed food. Our kind of gastronomy. Clockwise from top left: For apperitivo, we tried the local specialty – marinated anchovies. Fresh out of the sea, it was really delicious. Nothing like the salty ones we normally get back home. I had an excellent seafood pasta with white wine sauce. Keith had a pomodoro pasta with octopus. We had the trattoria’s own wine brand, which is locally produced. It was a typical Cinque Terre wine – dry and crisp.
Wines of Cinque Terre.
After lunch, we hike through Manarola’s scenic Vineyard Walk. It is abundantly covered not only with grapevines but with lemon groves and herbal gardens as well. This is the spectacular view of the colorful homes from the path.
From the Vineyard Walk, we planned to continue into the trail from Manarola to the next town of Corniglia, but the locals informed us that the trail was closed at that time due to landslide. (We later found out the there was an alternate trail we could have taken).
We then decided to go back to the amazing viewpoint of Manarola before taking the train back to Vernazza.This time the light was softer and the wave was stronger and more dramatic making the scenery much more captivating. We were thankful of the trail closure; it gave us a chance to spend more time in this glorious setting. Who would ever get tired of this vista?
Vernazza bathed in warm glow when we returned late in the afternoon after the hike.
Later in the evening, we headed into the lively piazza after cleaning up a bit.
The next day was another beautiful day of hiking (the real hiking part) and devouring. For the Part 2 of the post, please click here.
- Hikers need to purchase The Cinque Terre Card, a pass that is presented at the entry of each trail. For current pricing, click here.
- Walking sticks or trekking poles are helpful. Except for the Riomaggiore-Manarola segment, the rest of the trail can be rocky, narrow and steep with lots of steps.
- We visited Cinque Terre in September 2011. We found the month of September a good time to go when the towns and trails are less crowded with day trippers and the weather is pleasant.
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