Cinque Terre, five walkable villages on the Italian Riviera

Cinque Terre, Part Two

All the literature indicates that you can walk the trail between the five towns of Cinque Terre, Italy in five hours but as far as I am concerned, that would be a sin. Instead, I chose to split the hike over two days, beginning with the western portion from Monterosso al Mar to Corneglia, which I completed yesterday. Today I started at the eastern end of Cinque Terre, in the village of Riomaggiore. The train let me off near the bottom of the hill, at a piazza overlooking the town’s pretty little harbor and once again I was overwhelmed by the colors and scenery.

Village of Riomaggiore in Cnque Terre Italy

Village of Riomaggiore

Here, pastel painted wooden fishing boats are “parked” along the sides of the main street where cars would normally be found, as the village has a tradition of pulling up the boats when the sea is rough. I walked down to the harbor for a closer view of the rocks upon which the waterfront houses perch – their distorted and folded fingers creeping into the sea and attesting to a volatile volcanic past.

Boats line the street rather than cars in Cinque Terre Italy

Boats line the street rather than cars

Boats line the street in pretty little Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre Italy

Boats line the street in pretty little Riomaggiore

Rounding one of these rocky outcrops brings one to the town’s postage-stamp beach, which was in full use, despite its shingle shore.

Boats line the street in pretty little Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre Italy

Boats line the street in pretty little Riomaggiore

Shingle beach at Riomaggiore in Cnque Terre Italy

Shingle beach at Riomaggiore

From this vantage point I looked back to discover that the bulk of the town was up. There is an elevator for the faint-of-heart, incapacitated, or out-of-shape, but since I could not claim one of these categories, I hoofed it up the steep incline that is the main street, snapping photos of the colorful houses that lined the way.

Riomaggiore hangs off the cliff in Cinque Terre Italy

Riomaggiore hangs off the cliff

Colorful houses in Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre Italy

Colorful houses in Riomaggiore

Up and down the hills of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre Italy

Up and down the hills of Riomaggiore

Medieval castle crouches atop Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre Italy

Medieval castle crouches atop Riomaggiore

At the very top sat a medieval castle, facing seaward as if still on the lookout for enemies. From its ramparts I was treated to a fabulous view of the entire town, with its houses crawling up the sides of the valley and its old church dominating the landscape.

Via del Amor walking trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola in Cinque Terre Italy

Via del Amor walking trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola

Rest a while if the trail tires you out between the villages of Cinque Terre Italy

Rest a while if the trail tires you out

Tossing a padlock and key into the ocean to signfy love forever along "Via del Amore," between Riomaggiore and Manarola

Tossing a padlock and key into the ocean to signfy love forever along “Via del Amore,” between Riomaggiore and Manarola

The walking path was easily seen from up here and I headed down to start the trek to nearby Manarola. Unlike the portions of the path I trod yesterday this part of the walk, known as the Via dell’ Amore (Walk of Love), is wide and paved, with a barely discernible uphill gradient a solid steel guardrails. From Riomaggiore to Manarola is a leisurely 20 minute stroll, with cliff-side cafes along the way should the walk be too strenuous. Also along this portion of the path thousands of couples over the years have written their names on small padlocks, attached them to the guardrail, and thrown the key into the ocean below, signifying undying and endless love, thus the nickname “Walk of Love.”

Approaching Manarola on the trail in Cinque Terre Italy

Approaching Manarola on the trail

Village of Manarola in Cinque Terre Italy

Village of Manarola

Soon, Manorola came into view, its multicolored mosaic of houses chiseled into the granite and basalt cliffs. Here again, fishing boats lined the streets beneath these vibrant houses, proving that this is still an active fishing village and not just a tourist destination.

Colorful houses and boats in Manarola in Cinque Terre Italy

Colorful houses and boats in Manarola

This is one of the things that so appealed to me about Cinque Terre – local residents are still living the way they always have, fishing or farming the land and evidence of this is everywhere. I could feel the realness of the place, unlike San Gimignano, which had totally give in to the “tourist trap” mode.

On the other side of Manarola I again picked up the footpath and completed the remaining hour and ten minutes to Corniglia, so that I could truly say I had walked the entire Cinque Terre footpath. It is really a shame to spend only two days here. I hope to come back someday soon and devote more time to this fascinating region, since there are literally hundreds of trails that can be walked all throughout the hillsides and many other towns to be visited, such as tiny San Bernardino, perched on the very top of a mountain between Vernazza and Corniglia and accessed only on foot. But even if you have only two days – even only one – don’t miss Cinque Terre. It is spectacular and undoubtedly my favorite place in Italy – as I said in my previous post, I think I’m in love!

Read Part One about the walking trail between the Italian villages of Cinque Terre here.

11 Comments on “Cinque Terre, Part Two

  1. Hi dear,
    It is really very beautiful and impressive, I like it very much. and my best wishes for your bright future.

    • Thank you Anil. Glad you enjoyed reading about one of my favorite parts of Italy.

  2. A bit late, but just read your Cinque Terre 1 and 2. Had given some thought to heading to that part of Italy. I’m now convinced and it’s been added to my list. Love the photos and lovely writing! Thx for posting.

    • Hi Anne N: I’d add one caveat – since I wroth those pieces Cinque Terry has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. I’d avoid it in July and August and instead go in September or October, when the weather is still warm and you can witness the harvest of the grapes, which is still done by hand in many places, with pickers carrying the fruit down the cliffs in bushel baskets strapped to their foreheads.

  3. Pingback: Baby Boomer Travel Advice for a Day Visit to Cinque Terre

  4. Just came across your pics and blog about the Cinque Terre. We managed to get there four years in a row and it is always our starting point to other places in Italy. Heavily populated with tourists, but it maintains it’s charm and allure. I love that area. This is the first year we haven’t been able to go. Always say we are going somewhere else, Croatia, Bosnia, but Italy just pulls us. We live in Mx full Bravo next.

    • Hi Zoesterone: I now what you mean about Cinque Terre. It’s one of the few
      places in the world I think I could be happy living year round. I’d love to
      go back there!

  5. Riomaggiore is beautiful. It looks so serene. In Italy this is one of my next places to visit, as I came only to Lago di Garda, which has also many beautiful spots. Have a nice day and a good trip. Regards.

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