A three-day trip exploring Cinque Terre, Italy remains one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. And it almost didn’t happen.
Massive rains devastated the villages along the Ligurian Sea in October of 2011, and when I booked my trip in early 2013 for that May, it was still unclear if the hiking trails between the villages would be open.
My friends and I lucked out as the trail from Monterosso al Mare, where we were staying, to Vernazza opened up a few weeks prior to our arrival. The other trails were still not fully open but my friends were able to hike them anyway, albeit a bit more cautiously than they had planned.
The views from the Monterosso to Vernazza hike are just unbelievably beautiful. From the vineyards to the sea, there is a peacefulness on the trail that I can’t fully describe. The hour and a half or so hike is absolutely stunning, challenging and worth it if you get a chance to go there.
Coming around a bend to the views of Vernazza below, I understood why this was a trip one my best friends insisted on. Each step closer to this quaint village brought a view that was better than the last.
The trail is supposed to take about an hour and a half. I think it took us close to two since we had to stop at every bend and turn to take a photo or talk about the beauty of what we saw.
When we finally made our way into the village, I immediately fell in love. I couldn’t stop at every place I wanted, but my friends and I managed to go to Vernazza all three days of our trip.
If you don’t want to hike, ferry along!
After the hike, I took advantage of the awesome views of the villages from the train and the ferry. Thanks to a freak knee injury that happened right before I hopped the plane to Italy, I was unable to trek the somewhat questionable terrain that still existed.
The ferry is definitely the better option since the views are so amazing the entire ride.
It stops at 4 of the 5 villages, with Corniglia being the only one you have to access through the trail or the train. So I took the very short train ride from Vernazza to Corniglia and slowly made my way up the 380 or so steps to the village overlooking the sea.
The village is small and I greatly enjoyed walking around alone to check out the architecture while waiting for my friends.
Fresh seafood is an absolute must when you are in any of the villages, and I could not pass up a dish of seafood that I think was caught just a few hours before.
The next day, my friends and I decided to hit up the ferry from Monterosso, where we were staying, to Riomaggiore. After exploring that village, I took the ferry to Manarola while my friends took the short hike over. Both of these small villages are beautiful, with the homes in various pops of color that seem to shine off the reflection of the Ligurian Sea.
In Manarola, my friends and I decided to partake in the local dish of pasta and pesto and focaccia along with copious amounts of wine. Another ferry back to Vernazza brought us to a restaurant overlooking the sea that we had been referred to by a few locals. We watched the sunset and enjoyed the stories of travelers we met along with the staff.
We managed to catch the last train out of Vernazza back to Monterosso for a nightcap at the Enoteca near the flat we rented and close out an amazing few days in this lovely area of Italy.
This is definitely on my “go there again” list. There is so much to see but yet a peacefulness in the area that forced me to slow down and soak in everything around me. I am looking forward to planning another trip there and next time, I’m definitely hiking all of the trails.
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