Among the many hidden treasures in Italy, it is worth mentioning the Cinque Terre , the most unspoilt and fascinating natural part of Liguria. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso and Vernazza are the five ancient seaside villages, suspended between land and sea, which give life to the Cinque Terre National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Although it is not one of the official “five villages”, let’s not forget Portovenere, called the “Sixth Land”. Even if interrelated, distinguished by their pastel-coloured buildings and breathtaking views of the sea, each has its own soul that sets it apart from the others.
Especially during high season, the Cinque Terre are among the most crowded destinations, so if you decide to spend your holiday there, I recommend you to book well in advance, identifying the best options. There are a million hikes and hilly trails to visit, some of them with free access, meticulously dug by the villagers before the railways could access the villages. Consisting mostly of ups and downs with some rocky terrain and some great differences in height and steps for climbing. Even if you’re not a sporty guy, it won’t be a problem, but remember to wear comfortable clothing and shoes if you’re curious to reach the highest peaks… If you are thinking of taking one of the many trails, ideal for enjoying nature, I want to report some of the most beautiful and scenic hiking trails.
Considered one of the most famous trails in Italy, it's known for its beauty, it runs along the entire coast that bathes the Cinque Terre and connects all the villages: from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare, touching Corniglia, Manarola and Vernazza. What makes it unique is its proximity to the sea with the possibility to admire characteristic glimpses. If you want to stop for a break, don’t worry, along the way you will find many refreshments, while for those who have taken walks that last more than a day, there will also be the opportunity to stop at a hotel.
Duration: 7/8 hours
Particularly interesting from a cultural and religious point of view, is one of the oldest roads in the area. It refers to a route that connects the five sanctuaries, namely those of Riomaggiore, Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenegro; of Manarola, Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute; of Corniglia, Sanctuary of Madonna di Reggio; and of Monterosso, Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Soviore. Used by the locals during celebrations or special occasions, it is a half-way route, ideal for cycling or simply walking, depending on your preference. Moreover, thanks to the farmhouses, gardens and small towns, you can enjoy a full immersion in the local culture.
Duration: 8/9 hours
Can be considered a valid alternative to the Blue Path. This hike connects Manarola to Corniglia …Here too you will find many scenic and suggestive points. Compared to those previously mentioned it has a shorter travel time. Once you leave Manarola, recover your energy and start climbing along the 506 trail. This is where you can enter the small village of Volastra with its little church…and if you still have a bit of breath, continue on the 586 trail towards Corniglia.
Level: slightly tiring
Duration: 2 1/2 hours
Will allow you to cross the whole of Liguria for a long time, it’s a real walk; starting from Lerici up to Ventimiglia, obviously making some stages. Unlike the other routes, however, here you enter more into the mountainous hinterland and if the Blue Trail runs along the sea, here you go away along mountainous stretches. The Ligurian Apennines lend themselves very well to long walks even in the winter months, weather conditions permitting. In any case, it should always be remembered that the mountains require caution, in fact this route is only recommended for those who already have experience.
Duration: variable (depending on the established stages)
Is certainly the most evocative and romantic stretch, that is, the path that connects Riomaggiore and Manarola, with a length that does not exceed one kilometre. Being literally dug into the cliff about thirty meters from the sea, it represents the most original and interesting route from the point of view of the landscape, as well as the one best known and frequented by tourists, proclaimed one of the most popular routes. Like all the Blue Path, the Path of Love is subject to the payment of an entrance fee, the proceeds of which are used by the Cinque Terre National Park to safeguard the terraced landscape and the trails, threatened by major erosion. Unfortunately, however, following a landslide in 2012, the trail continues to be closed to the public…
If I mentioned some of the most popular hilly trails before, now I’m talking to the less sporty, those who prefer to “travel comfortably” rather than take long walks. The solution is a day by boat, discovering the beautiful and rugged coastline, the countless beaches accessible only by sea and the unique views that only the Ligurian coast can offer. By booking one of the many boat tours (…highly recommended especially during the summer months), you will discover the five most famous villages in Italy without having to worry about choosing the right period to avoid the influx of tourists. Choose the port of departure, such as Monterosso or La Spezia and, thanks to the guidance of the skipper on board will be easy to discover the most extraordinary places, immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the place, enjoy the clear waters between a dip and the other, also approaching the marine protected area. Finally, if your schedule doesn’t include morning tours, you can always think of enjoying an aperitif on the boat at sunset, relaxing among spritzes and snacks against the backdrop of a postcard panorama.
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