THE CINQUE TERRE
Pronunciation: Chinkway Tear ray
To hike the entire way from Riomaggiore to Monterossa al Mare ( south to north) takes 5 hours no stopping. To hike this way you are begining at the easiest path to the most difficult ( into and out of Vernazza). You must purchase a ticket to enter the park. There is NO Camping here and the trail is NOT good for mountain Bicycling or heels. Wear a good supportive shoe. There is no need to bring food, it is never far out of reach. There is even a bar or two along the way.
HOW TO ARRIVE: Best not to take the car. The roads into the park are narrow and steep, and once you arrive at one of the villages then parking is a problem. Easiest to take the train. Some of you think you can train from Florence and hike and return to Florence that same day. I do not recommend this. Take your time to enjoy this beautiful place.
If you do have a car, and insist on using it, then an option is to drive to Lerici located below la Spezia on the coast. Lerici has lots of parking. There are boats that depart frequently in summer months June 1- Sept 15 for Palmaira island, Portovenere and Cinque Terre. After that better check the schedule. Keep in mind, boat do not run when the seas are rough.
Take the train to Riomaggiore. When you arrive, before you walk through the tunnel to see the town, there is an elevator on the left, Pay the 1EU a person and take it up to the top, and see the town easily walking downhill!! Don’t miss the fortress. Then walk down though the town, and back through the tunnel to begin the Via Del Amore which is the easiest trail which is really a sidewalk. There is also another wonderful hike from here up to Colle Telegrafo then down to Portovenere. Outstanding and less traveled.
Walking from Riomaggiore to Manarola will take you 30 minutes and everyone can do it. It is flat and paved. Arrive in Manarola and wander the town. From here you can walk down to the port to take a boat to see the other villages. The next town Cornilia is on the crest of a hill and there is not a port to take a boat. If you do want to walk to Cornilia, it takes 45 minutes. And is a single track trail which hugs a cliff. It is a tad difficult for youngsters.
When you arrive in Corniglia there are 245 steps to walk up to the town which sits on a pinnacle. Alternately, they do provide electric busses from the train station for those who do not want to walk up hill. There are few places to eat in Corniglia and there is only a view if you walk to the point. It is the simplest of all the villages.
Said to be the prettiest of the towns, the walk into and out of Vernazza are the most difficult. From Corngila to Vernazza takes one hour 15 minutes. The hike from Vernazza to Monterossa takes one hour and a half. The trail is not easy as you hike uphill until you reach grade, then the trail levels off. there are lots of big stones and uneven footing. The views are dramatic as you wind between olive groves and terraced vineyards. There are numerous stores and shops to purchase picnic items here, Don’t miss the foccaccia a regional specialty.
MONTEROSSO AL MARE
Is considered, the commercial center of the Cinque Terre Villages, and the largest of all five of the towns. There are two parts to the town the old and new (train station area). Most of the hotels are located here. The regional trains stop here whereas only the local trains stop at all the other villages. Make sure you visit both sides of town, the historic center is furthest away from the train station.
NOTE: Don’t miss the “Farinata”- chick pea pizza at Il Frantoio in Monterosso on Via Gioberti. It is a classic Ligurian dish. ( open mornings and late afternoons.)
OTHER HIKES IN LIGURIA LEVANTE:
LEVANTO to MONTEROSSO
You can hike form Levanto to Monterosso- 3 hours and it is best done form Levanto TO Monterosso as the giant steps to enter into Monterosso would be a killer if you had to hike UP them instead of DOWN them. Less traveled, it is a beautiful hike with less vineyards and dramatic drops to Punto Mesco.
TREKKING : SANTA MARGHARITA TO PORTOFINO TO SAN FRUTTUOSO TO CAMOGLI
SANTA MARGHARITA TO PORTOFINO
This trail takes about 2 and half hours. And is extremely beautiful, a single track and at times paved, it is well marked. Medium difficulty. The trail is marked with three red dots. And begins in Santa Margharita behind the gas station and near the Arab looking structure.
You can also take the boat from Santa Margharita to Portofino.
Not to be missed is a trip to see the FAI –Italian National Trust abby of San Fruttuoso. Located in a cove only reachable by boat or foot. The trail from Portofino is not easy and extremely steep. Do not take it on a wet day. The boat from Portofino is convenient. It will let you off at the abby and there is a tiny beach and two Trattoria Dine at the one under the arches with the fish nets.! http://www.fondoambiente.it/beni/abbazia-s-fruttuoso-beni-del-fai.asp
A second boat company can take you from San Fruttuoso over to Camogli with a stop at Punto Chiappa. You can also hike to Camogli from San Fruttuoso ( 2.5 hours). Or you can hop off the boat at Punto Chiappa and go and eat at the trattoria there and then walk to Camogli. Either way Camogli is not to be missed. You can catch a train back to your town from Camogli.
Beautiful seaside town at the mouth of La Spezia harbour once know as Venus's Port since there was a temple dedicated to Venus perched at the pinnacle of the harbor entry. ( Now a church) You can take a Cinque Terre boat from here in season to access all the five villages.
DINING ALONG THE COAST: Joyce's Picks
Dearest Friends and Travelers, and Admirers of Italy,
While most of you have been saving for your future retirement, in contrast, I have decided to live my life now, today; day by day. And with this philosophy of, carpe diem, I have dedicated many of the past fifteen years of my life researching the subject of my hearts delight, in reckless pursuit of La Dolce Vita. I have devoted myself to the exploration of every nook and cranny of Italy. I have had the good fortune to make this my career choice.
Contained in this series of articles, are full of my secretly guarded hints and travel tips on Italy. These tidbits collected at the expense (literally) of my retirement funds, represent years of travel research. Cherish them dearly, as I do. I believe I have spent more on the collection of this research, than any attorney has for the acquisition of their degree. Attorneys once they have passed the bar can write Esq. My accolade from all the years of study is; DSI- Destination Specialist Italy.
While in this pursuit of any and all information relative to Italy, I have amassed a large library devoted to all things Italian. Within my library there are piles of books and magazines, in both English and Italian, which contain advice on food, vino, history, and hotel accommodations. Printed in England, Italy, USA, I also have an assortment of Italian maps; regional, local, city, train routes, hiking paths and even waterways. I have ever pamphlet ever produced on areas often traveled and not frequently traveled. Included on my shelves are new and vintage issues of Classic Italian novels; Dante- Inferno, Boccaccio-Decameron, I Promissi Sposi-Manzoni not so well known classics such as -The Italians, Mussolini, and not even close to being classics novels; La Bella Figura, The Birth of Venus, City of Fallen Angels, and Brunelleschi’s Dome.
Once you have decided that Italy is the destination for your vacation, perhaps you have noticed how difficult it is to select one guide book which fulfills all of your needs for your perfect Italian trip. The majorities of shelves in any bookstore or library travel section are dedicated to Italian travel and can be found on a variety of subject matter relative to Italy. They can vary from general to quite specific. Well know names in travel such as Michelin, Touring Club, Rick Steves-(ugh), Fodor’s, Blue Guide, Slow Food Guide, Rough Guides, and Italy on $5.00 a day (today it would be more like Italy on EU150 a day). A guide to Rome, A Pilgrims Guide to Rome, A Romans guide to Rome, An Americans Guide to Rome, A Jewish travelers Guide to Rome, just to name a few. I wanted to offer you something more, a comprehensive travel guide based on my notes for each region, collected over the years.
My objective in writing these essay’s was to compile concise data, on areas I have enjoyed the best, and to put the information all in one place, so you can enjoy the fruits of my research easily. The criteria were based on the following standards;