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Manarola Corniglia Vernazza Monterosso  
Riomaggiore - Cinque Terre - LuniHolidays

The Cinque Terre.

The famous five villages of the Cinque Terre cling like limpets to the rocky Ligurian shore. At their back ancient terraced vineyards still produce the fine Cinque Terre wines whilst their feet are lapped by the blue waters of the Riviera di Levante. Until recent times only accessible on foot or by boat the villages are now easily reached by train or boat (by car is still almost impossible).

Well-marked, safe footpaths connect the villages and there are also a series of paths connecting to villages a little way inland.

The area offers a range of walks from short easy strolls to longer, more ambitious hikes. It is also possible to visit all five villages by "train hopping" from one village to the next.

Where is it? What is it, and how do I get there?

The Cinque Terre lies on Italy's western seaboard just to the north-west of the elegant city of La Spezia and to the south of Genoa. The five villages that make up the Cinque Terre are (from the south); Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.

Inland of the Cinque Terre heavily wooded hills topped by medieval villages rise to the high peaks of the Apennines. Slightly to the south Portovenere faces the lovely seaside resort of Lerici across the Golfo della Spezia and the Golfo di Poeti (Gulf of Poets), named for Byron and Shelly who drowned there.

On its south-western side the region borders Lunigiana - the unknown corner of Tuscany thrusting between the Alpi Apuane Regional Park, the mighty Apennines, and the sea.

Walking the Cinque Terre.

A direct coastal path (Pathway No. 2) links all five villages of the Cinque Terre. Distances between the villages vary but none are over-long though terrain varies from flat paved stretches to sharply rising rough paths. Sensible sturdy walking shoes are essential. Estimated walking times between the villages using the direct coastal path are;

  • Riomaggiore to Manarola 30 minutes
  • Manarola to Corniglia 1 hr 10 minutes
  • Corniglia to Vernazza 1 hr 45 minutes
  • Vernazza to Monterosso 1 hr 45 minutes

Maps are available at tourist information centers and at the railway stations.

The villages.

Riomaggiore is the starting point for the short but spectacularly beautiful cliff-side walk, the so-called "Via dell'Amore" to Manarola. Although it is a port and seaside resort the village is not serviced by boat.

Manarola is perched on a promontory above the sea and can be reached by boat from Portovenere as well as by train. You can also take the boat from Manarola to Vernazza.

Corniglia is the least visited of the five villages and stands on a high promontory overlooking the sea. A long flight (about 300ft) of steps leads from the railway station up to the village and no doubt accounts for its relative lack of popularity with visitors to the Cinque Terre.

Vernazza is generally regarded as the most attractive of the villages and is a Mecca for tourists. There are several reasonably priced places to eat down by the small harbour and plenty of opportunity for painters and photographers to pursue their interest.

Monterosso. Situated at the northern end of the Cinque Terre Monterosso is easily accessed by train or boat from Levanto which is the best starting point for people staying in our properties in the Cornice and Rio area. Like the other villages it has a good range of facilities. The pathway shown in the photograph goes to Vernazza and has some fair climbs in places and though the condition of the path is generally reasonable care is needed.

There are many other marked routes (some 58 in all) which can be used individually or in combination to give the widest possible variety of route and terrain. The Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre produces a series of pamphlets - one for each path, which are available free of charge from tourist offices and railway stations.

Getting there

The best way to get to and from the Cinque Terre itself is by train - although there are also boats from several places along the coast. The schematic map shows the main railway lines in the area illustrating that the villages are readily reached from a variety of starting points.

Schematic map of local rail links to the Cinque Terre - Italidays

Journey times are short and prices very modest. The following extract from the summer timetable illustrates journey times:

La Spezia

Riomaggiore

Manarola

Corniglia

Vernazza

Monterosso

10:00 10:09 10:12 10:16 10:21 10:25
11:20 11:29 11:32 11:36 11:41 11:45

Trains stop at all five villages, and because your ticket is valid for six hours from the time of validation (not purchase) you can combine walking with "train-hopping" if you wish - the really easy way to do it!

From Aulla to La Spezia takes only 25 minutes by train and staying in the Aulla area has the advantage of being on the edge of the Alpi Apuane regional park and gives easy access by train or road to the Renaissance cities. Boats make regular shuttle runs between La Spezia, Lerici, Portovenere, Levanto and Sestri Levante.

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