Cinque Terre, Day 2, Walking the coastal walk

Cinque Terre, Day 2, Walking the coastal walk

Up bright and early I’ve lost my three walking mates as the previous day’s excursion from Colle del Telegrafo near Riomaggiore to Portovenere has exhausted them! Twelve kilometres of rugged terrain to a height of 500 metres was even strenuous for me.

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Walking to Portovenere.

They decided to have a rest day and have the caught the train to Monterosso, the last of the Cinque Terre villages. I will walk the coastal walk approximately 12 km and meet them there.

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Monterosso is a beautiful village with two great swimming beaches.

The coastal walk takes you through all five villages, but it’s almost too long to do in one go.

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The walks are sign posted with red and white markers painted on rocks along the way.

The decision to only walk part of the coastal walk was made easy for me. Rocks had recently fallen on the trail, closing part of it so I could only walk from Corniglia to Monterosso passing through the village of Vernazza – it’s still a good three and a half hour walk.

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Vernazza is a delightful village with a very distinctive tower and little marina with a beach.

I caught the train from Riomaggiore to Corniglia. It’s the only one of the five villages not at sea level so before starting the walk there were 400 steps to climb from the train station to the village.

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The 400 plus steps from Corniglia train station to the village are a killer!

Once at the top of the village the streets are narrow and a church is at the centre of the community. It’s more touristy than Riomaggoiore but it’s still a real village with families living in the multi-storied coloured houses.

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Corniglia village is beautiful but more touristy than Riomaggiore.

The walk from Vernazza to Monterosso was even more challenging than Corniglia to Vernazza with narrow walkways and plenty of steps.

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Over the centuries 7000 km of stone walls have enabled the Cinque Terre hillsides to be farmed.
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Grapes are the primary produce from the slopes of the Cinque Terre.

Walking is the best way to enjoy and appreciate this unique landscape. Over hundreds of years locals in the region have shaped the natural environment, terracing the steep slopes to produce land for farming. The plots of land called ‘cian’ are contained by 7000 kilometres stone walls, the equivalent length of the Great Wall of China.

Until last century the trails between the two villages was the only connection and part of a network that allowed the harvested produce whether it be olives, wine, vegetables or other fruits to be taken off the slopes.

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Walking though the working farms on the slopes of the Cinque Terre.

Arriving into Monterosso the village is quite different from the others. It has two bays connected by a tunnel, both with great swimming beaches. The northern most town is more modern than the old town with hotels as opposed to the more rustic B&B in the other villages.

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Monterosso beaches are great but a little crowded – all part of the experience.
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A well deserved swim after my coastal walk.

The sea was beckoning me after a long walk in the heat of the day and my legs were aching. I found my friends on loungers, relaxed at the seaside with beer in hand!

Things you need to know

Trains

The trains go regularly along the coast between the five villages – great for just getting from one village to the next or to get home after a walk.

Buses

Many of the hilltop walks start well above the villages so the only way to get to these starting points are on the small local buses. The buses are mini vans (as they need to be small enough to get into the villages) but the bus stops and timetables are not always obvious so ask a local or the tourism office.

It cost to walk the coastal walk

For the coastal walks between the five villages you need a Cinque Terre pass. These can be purchased for one or multiple days from the tourism offices.

Jane Jeffries

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There are 4 comments on this post
  1. Sally Verbiest
    September 17, 2016, 11:04 am

    Hi Jane. I’m intrigued to read about your trek along the Cinque Terre. Mark & I did it in 1999 (when we were much younger & extremely fit) We used a Britsh company called Alternative Travel Group. We started at Levanto & finished at Portovenere. Although we walked on our own, ATG transported our luggage from village to village and supplied us with a valuable guidebook. The whole experience was fabulous & ive still got a copy the article I wrote for Grace Magazine April 2000!
    Regards,
    Sally Verbiest.

    • September 18, 2016, 5:11 am

      Hi Sally,
      Lovely to hear from you. We have absolutely loved our time in the Cinque Terre and I thought the walks were fantastic. We only had 5 days but I would have loved to walk for another 3 or 4. If you are able to send me a copy of the article you wrote, I would love to ready it.
      Kindest regards,
      Jane

      • Sally Verbiest
        September 18, 2016, 1:30 pm

        Happy to do so, Jane, if you advise the appropriate email address. It’s a photo of the original article because there were no digital versions in 2000! 😄

        Regards,
        Sally.

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