4 hikes. 5 towns. 8 people. 1 weekend.
This is the story of when we hiked Cinque Terre.
Riomaggiore to Manarola
We started the day off with a train ride from Milan to Riomaggiore, the southernmost town in Cinque Terre, where we had breakfast in an amazing cafe situated within a cave before embarking on our first hike. This was definitely more of a hike, with cliffside views, and since the National Park is undergoing restoration, we foraged our own path (or got lost) but ended up making it to Manarola no harm done.
Manarola to Corniglia
We took a break in Manarola to eat some gelato and regain our energy before our second hike to Corniglia. This wasn’t so much a hike as it was a LOT of stairs, we wandered our way through vineyards and along the national park before finding our way to Corniglia to take the train back to Riomaggiore, where we stayed for the night.
Vernazza to Corniglia
This post is out of order because I wanted it to be in order of the trails, but our very last hike was from Vernazza to Corniglia (the town we had stopped in the day before) and this marked the culmination of our hiking trip. It was probably the easiest of all the hikes, and once we reached the town, we stopped for a coffee in one of the cafes before heading up to watch the sunset overlooking the ocean and the other towns we had hiked to the day before.
Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza
We started the second day by taking the train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost town of Cinque Terre. There, we actually entered from the National Park entrance and made our way to Vernazza. It was a remarkably hot day for late October, so there were many people out on the trail enjoying the good weather. This hike was more of a marathon than a sprint, and it felt like it took a lot longer than it actually did, but it was my favorite one (surprisingly), because we followed the trail and had both a good ocean view as well as a hike through the forest.
- Utilize the luggage storage in Riomaggiore (if you can’t store it in your hostel/ airbnb) for about 5€ a day. It is so worth it because we originally went in with the intention of wearing all our stuff, but I’m so glad we didn’t because that would have been absolutely miserable.
- Stay in Riomaggiore. It’s the leat touristy of all the towns and it has such a homey, small-town feel to it.
- EAT AT THE LUNCHBOX! It’s a panini restaurant in Vernazza, and it was arguably the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It also isn’t too expensive (compared to everything else in Cinque Terre).
- Cinque Terre is expensive! All 5 towns, so I recommend pitching in for groceries with your friends and cooking some of your meals so you can splurge on one really good Italian meal and not spend a lot of money.
- Take pictures and take advantage of the hike! All the hikes are beautiful, with breathtaking views, it can get tiring hiking so much, but I still made sure to take some time to look up and around at your surroundings.
Okay here’s the cheesy part of the post- I did not think I would be able to do this. I tried backing out, I did not think I was physically capable of completing this hike. But hey, studying abroad is supposed to be all about trying new things, so I put my big girl pants on and I did it. And I am so proud of myself. In these 2 days, we did 4 hikes, ranging from fairly easily to slightly strenuous, and ended up walking a total of 20 miles.
So basically, if there’s something you’re scared to do, or something you don’t think you can do, try it anyway. If I had backed out of this hike, I wouldn’t have got to see these amazing towns, or hang out with such cool people, I wouldn’t have got to visit one of the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and would have had an entirely different Italy experience.
Here’s to trying new things.
Until next time,