They say three times a charm, don’t they?
I’ve honestly tried and failed to come here twice before both during my 2015 travels and the culprit each time? Bad weather. Twice I say! Yesterday, however, I finally made it here with Vivian in tow.
The Five Lands are well known as old seaside villages along a small part of the Italian Riviera coastline. In fact, odds are you’ve seen the iconic images of the colourful, vibrant little villages online or in books. Additionally, Cinque Terre is both a national park and UNESCO protected as an area of “Outstanding Universal Value”. It’s, therefore, no surprise that people come from all over to witness, hike, and enjoy Cinque Terre – ourselves included.
We stayed for a few nights in the old port town of La Spezia. The first time in all my Italy travels that I felt the people were a little rough around the edges. However, it was more affordable here than staying in Cinque Terre and also it’s just a 10-minute train ride to reach the first southern-end village – Riomaggiore.
The trek from Riomaggiore to the second village, Manarola, is known as “Lover’s Lane” or Via dell’Amore. Allegedly a pleasing light trek along the cliff edge with the entire ocean in view. Allegedly, he says. This first trail was closed off and it will be for some time yet due to damage caused by landslides as you’ll see below.
We wandered around the small village for a short period of time before popping back on the train to reach the second village.
We reached the second village of Manarola just minutes later as the towns are not far apart, especially by train.
Here we managed to grab our first proper photos of this beautiful area, including some of my favourite shot
Next up was to reach the third village of Corniglia. To get there from Manarola would be another long, long trek as the main coastal route was also blocked due to landslides!
I had researched in advance that it was advisable to catch a local bus to a midpoint to alleviate an initial large hill so we located the bus spot, blagged some Italian, and caught the bus to the mid-point of Volastra and where our trekking would now properly begin. This trail would see us deep in the middle of small vineyards, lemon trees, and lots of shrubberies.
1.5 hours later and some 13,000 steps later we had reached Corniglia. As we were already so high up we decided to crack on to the next village and not descend, taking a few photos on route.
Another long trek completed. Corniglia to Vernazza reached in under 2 hours.
At this point, we were nearly 3 hours in total walk-time, which might not sound a lot, but it really was. To reach the fifth village would be another 2-hour hike but we just couldn’t do it. We were absolutely shattered.
This shattered in fact…
My goodness, I cannot wait to discard these clothes when I get home!
Instead, we purchased some gelato and sat on a bench for 20 minutes catching a little rest before taking a few shots of the village and moving on, albeit by train! Speaking of the village, Vernazza was surprisingly charming and of course, it reflected Italians doing what Italians do best…… not much lol. Chilling.
Reaching the fifth and final village of Monterosso was a treat to our hard work throughout the day so it was time to finally wind down doing some of our favourite things; eating and a dip in the ocean.
On reflection, my experience of Cinque Terre was an enjoyable one but it was harder than I imagined (probably because much of the classic trail was closed off so we had to use alternative routes). Also, the views were much harder to obtain from deep inside the trees, with both eyes firmly on the ground rocky path to avoid a sudden twist of an ankle! As such, the scenery itself took a back seat which is never a good thing.
Our total walking time was 27,000+ steps. We reached some 27,000+ steps back in the States but that would have been largely on flat terrain. The majority of this trek was anything but flat which our calves can testify to, still so very sore!
Time to now head more inland and away from the coast. At least you know what to expect if you want to make a visit here.