On our only full day here in the Cinque Terre, we had a lot to cover off!
We had a big day ahead, so we rose very early to start the long 12kms walk from Monterosso along the cliff side to Riggamore. Luckily we started early, as it was a very hot day and we had quite a distance to walk.
The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region ofItaly, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia,Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside.
As we began our walk, we soon saw that the views were just incredible, but we certainly had to work for it.
As we started or ascent from Monterosso, we we taken aback by the beauty of our surroundings. Crops were growing on the side of the cliffs, and had been for many, many years. They say the people who work the land here are some of the most dedicated and really do understand what it takes to work with the land, rather than against it.
Walking to the first town of Vernazza was very hard work. At times, we actually didn’t think we would make it.
Ryan and I are both quite fit – and I don’t think we really understood the difficulty we would have doing this first part of the hike. It was hot, and I have never witnessed so many stairs in my whole life, needless to say the views were spectacular.
After what felt like hours we saw Vernazza in the distance, this helped us regain some enthusiasm and push us faster on our journey!
We began our descent (which we quickly realised this meant only one thing, that we would need to ascend again at some stage!) but were truly mesmerised with the breathtaking views over the ocean and down to Vernazza.
Vernazza has no car traffic and remains one of the truest “fishing villages” on the Italian Riviera. It was so quaint and tiny, and felt a lot less touristy than Monerosso. Fisherman were going about their daily business as we arrived in the main town centre.
First records recognising Vernazza as a fortified town date back to the year 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility, it was a likely point of departure for naval forces in defence of pirates.
It is just amazing to be surrounded by such old world charm and elegance. To be standing in the main town centre, staring back at these old buildings that would have seen so much in their time really does leave you feeling very blessed to be there.
After hiking for 2hrs, we decided we needed a rest before moving on to the next town. We found a quaint little cafe, right down by the water and ordered some breakfast. Sitting in the piazza overlooking the rowboats was very peaceful. This town had such a charm about it, so relaxed and so simple. Life here had little or no complications.
After our much needed rest, it was time to move on. We had to fit in 5 villages in one day – so we began our ascent to Corniglia, again with spectacular views along the way…