Images: Fototeca ENIT
Enchanting, or perhaps intoxicating, might be the best words to describe Italy's Cinque Terre region hugging the Italian Riviera. Spoil yourself in this UNESCO World Heritage Site where the rocky coast and green hills meet the cobalt sea. Authentic Ligurian Coast cuisine and wine swoon you, friendly locals engage you, while incredibly unique hiking along a dramatic coastline complemented by a train and ferry system, transport you from village to village. The Cinque Terre, named the ‘five lands’ in medieval times, along with outlying hamlets, sanctuaries and traditional farm terraces hover over the sea and offer charming accommodations, locally-grown produce and wine for romantic nourishment with surprisingly serene, fairy-tale surroundings. Enchanting jaunts through chestnut and helm oak groves with primrose and saffron-filled meadows, olive and citrus groves and terraced vineyards are interspersed throughout your journey as you make your way to the ‘Gulf of the Poets’ near picturesque Portovenere.
- Enjoy breathtaking views of aquamarine lagoons and the treasures of the Italian Riviera.
- Wander through working vineyards and tranquil olive and citrus groves.
- Discover easy-to-moderate hiking days. You'll cover four to six miles each day, taking between 4 and 7 hours (depending how long you stop in each town) with no more 1,800 feet of elevation gain.
- Dine on local Italian specialties prepared with regional delicacies from the land and sea.
Day 1 Travel independently by rail to Cinque Terre's westernmost fishing village Monterosso. Overnight in a quaint hotel perched above the historic town.
Day 2 Today’s serene, coastal hike begins in Monterosso climbing to Punta Mesca then heading west along a coastal footpath descending into Levanto. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Italian Riviera and characteristic Mediterranean solitude. Take a dip and relax on Levanto’s infamous sandy beach before heading to the hamlet of Bonassola, town of 500, for lunch. Take the train or ferry back to Monterosso for a relaxing dinner.
Alternate: Begin today’s hike with a stroll up to the Sanctuary of Sovoire. Hike through the woods to Cigoletta towards Punta Mesca winding back descending into Monterosso’s new town passing a Capuchin convent. For a more strenuous day, hike the steep, beautiful path to Vernazza in the afternoon for a sunset glass of Vino delle Cinque Terre. Transfer by train or ferry back to Monterrosso for an infamous ligurian-style pesto dinner.
Day 3 Take the local train to Riomaggiore to begin the quintessential Cinque Terre hike to Vernazza with a twist. Stroll along the infamous Via 'dell Amore to Manarola. Then we detour from the main path by ascending to Volastra, winding your way through small farms and vineyard terraces that provide the local produce and wine for the Cinque Terre Coop. Hike to a fine lunch of regional Italian cuisine at a quaint restaurant in this lovely hamlet. Enjoy some of the best views where the sea meets the sky. Make your way back to Corniglia on a higher forest track meandering above the Cinque Terre. Wind along a narrow, slightly steeper path to Vernazza descending through vineyards to catch a train or ferry back to Riomaggiore to overnight in a simple, very hospitable hotel situated overlooking the town. Enjoy Riomaggiore’s local restaurants by the harbour & lively atmosphere or taxi to the hamlet of Groppo to dine at one of the finest restaurants in the region.
Day 4 Start in Riomaggiore and make your way to Portovenere. Meander through terraces gradually ascending to Madonna di Montenero Sanctuary, and monorails that carry locals to and from the vendemmia (grape harvest). From here a shady woodland path connects you from Telegrafo to Campiglia to enjoy lunch at a local trattoria. Or, choose a side venture in the middle that takes you to the hamlet of Fossola to have lunch before ascending to Campiglia From Campiglia hug the rocky coastline, sweeping coastal views and permeating Mediterranean flora smells before descending into Portovenere to our charming 17th century restored hotel overlooking the harbour.
Day 5 Depart. If you have time you can hike Palmaria Island just a 5-minute ferry ride to and from Portovenere (allow 3 hours) before you take a short taxi or bus ride to La Spezia to catch a train to your departing city.
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