Sometimes, less is more. In 2013, we visited Italy for about two weeks, part of the time in Verona and part of the time in the Italian Alps. One day, we drove down to the Cinque Terre to visit some family and decided to take a quick hike from Vernazza to Monterosso. Of course, the hike was a bit longer than we expected, and I probably wouldn’t recommend wearing Rainbow Sandals, but whatever. The trail between Monterosso and Vernazza is the hardest of them all, but rewards hikers with a spectacular view that is certainly worth your efforts.
If you’re interested in hiking in the Cinque Terre, you should make sure to check out the trail status before you plan your hike. The Italian government is making many updates and restorations to the trails and it’s possible that the trails between cities may be closed. I recommend checking WikiTravel’s page on hiking in the Cinque Terre, but you may want to check with the government too.
We had a great lunch in Levanto and grabbed a train in to Vernazza. The summer is the busiest time of the year, so the trains were packed. And, of course, the train station was being renovated, so there were only a few egress options. Instead of getting bent out of shape, we hung out for a bit and let the crowds die down.
Now, it’s important to know that the Cinque Terre towns are really small. They’re generally only one street, maybe a couple, but when the trains arrive, you’re dealing with crowded streets. No need to rush, everyone is going the same place, everyone is hot, and everyone wants to see everything, so just relax and enjoy the trip.
We headed down the main street in Vernazza and enjoyed a little gelato before finding the start of the trail. As with all streets in Italy, you’re going to struggle to find the start of the trail. You’ll end up heading towards the water, and then if you look to your right, you’ll see stairs that lead up to the hills. It’s easiest to keep your eyes open for people coming into Vernazza from Monterosso. The first bit of the trail has a lot of elevation gain, but it’ll level out after a bit and you’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.
The shot above was taken just as we climbed out of Vernazza, looking back to the town and the cathedral. The trailhead starts just to the left of the cathedral, between the houses.
As we continued along, we stopped frequently to look back over the amazing little town that we’d just left.
Here’s a better view of the hike out of Vernazza.
We continued on a bit and came across this guy, living La Dolce Vita at the highest point on the trail.
I love how the locals take care of this cat, making sure he has food, and a safe place to sleep that’ll keep him dry.
As we continued, the terrain changed. We got the elevation gains out of the way and enjoyed the rest of the views, the Med on our left, and a long trail in front of us. As we crested the hill and started down towards Monterosso, the path became steep again, but heading down now. As we started to see more people, we knew we were closer to Monterosso and we started to notice small farms and vineyards.
What a hard life it must be to swim in a pool overlooking the Med.
As we finished up our hike, Monterosso came into view. By this time, the day was quite hot and a bit of haze had set in, so pardon the pictures here, but I think you can understand the sheer beauty of the place, even with the bad pictures.
Though most of our trip was in different parts of Italy, we loved our day trip to the Cinque Terre. If you’re looking to visit, you can save quite a bit of money by staying outside the five towns, choosing to stay in Levanto or La Spezia. Both towns are amazing, right on the water, and much less expensive than the Cinque Terre towns. Of course, you’ll be able to get into the Cinque Terre easily, via train. I wouldn’t recommend driving in. It’s possible, sometimes, but you’re going to hate life if you bring a car.