Itinerary: Blue Trail, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso
Hiking along the Blue Trail to discover Cinque Terre
Located in the beautiful region of Liguria, the area of Cinque Terre (literally, Five Lands) is likely to be one of the most visited attractions in Italy. Picturesque and colored villages, an amazing coastline, clear waters and the feeling of being welcomed: this is what makes Cinque Terre unforgettable. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso: visiting all of them is a must!
This is a walking tour. There are many hiking trails along the coast that allow you to visit these villages and move from one to the other by walk. This is the best way to enjoy the landscape. The Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro, also indicated as Sentiero no. 2) is a hiking trail that links all the villages, from the first one Riomaggiore to the last one Monterosso, and it is also the most famous and amazing path of the area.
The Blue Trail is about 12 kilometers long and its difficulty can vary, although is never too difficult to walk along. It is mainly a path, sometimes it is paved, sometimes it is more like a mule track (as it was originally built for this purpose). Depending on your speed and abilities, it can take up to 5 - 6 hours to walk the whole trail. It is suggested considering at least 2 days so that you can take your time to visit the villages.
You can access the pathway by buying the Cinque Terre Card, which can cost from 5 to 8 Euros (depending on how many parts are opened at that time) and which includes some other services, such as the use of buses, the entrance to some museums, and others. The money from the sell is used for the preservation of the Cinque Terre National Park, where the Blue Trail is located. You can buy the Card at the beginning of the Path, in the tourist centers or at the train stations.
The first part of the trail is the famous Via dell'Amore (the Path of Love), which links Riomaggiore to Manarola (about 1 kilometer long). It is the easiest part of the path, as it is flat, paved, protected by a fence and accessible for disabled people as well. For these reasons and also because it is absolutely spectacular, it is the most crowded part as well. Consider walking along it at dawn or sunset, when nobody is there and the colors are awesome. Being the way of love, it is scattered with benches dedicated to gods and goddesses of love, or to poets and writers. There is also a part of the fence where you can "seal" your love with lockers.
From Manarola to Corniglia, the trail is 2 kilometers long and it is still quite flat and easy to walk. But Corniglia is not on the sea level: be prepared to climb 382 steps to get there! You will then walk 4 kilometers to reach Vernazza. This part is steeper and you will need good shoes to walk along it. Once in Vernazza, the last 4 kilometers are waiting for you: they are the most challenging, but the view is stunning from here, and the forest-like environment will be a pleasant source of shade during the hottest summer days.
All the 5 villages are absolutely worth a visit: narrow alleys, colored houses, small typical shops, a vibrant atmosphere. They are perfect to take a rest (or a swim) between a walk and another. Take the chance to explore them, to get lost in them: you will find out why it is one of the most beautiful corners of Italy!
Needless to say: Cinque Terre area has its own typical food products that you absolutely have to taste, especially after such a long walk. "Pesto" sauce was born here in Liguria, so make sure you do not miss it, especially with the typical fresh pasta of the area. Also, try "Farinata", a sort of savory cake made of chickpea flour, and do not forget the typical anchovies and the local olive oil. When it comes to dessert, give "Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà" a try: a delicious sweet wine to end your holiday in Cinque Terre in a perfect way!
Starting point: Riomaggiore
Ending point: Monterosso al Mare
Length: km 29
Some pictures of Cinque Terre Blue Trail:
Panoramic view of Riomaggiore (pic n°1); Via dell'Amore - the Path of Love (pic n°2); The stairs leading to the sea (pic n°3); Walking on the Blue Trail (pic n°4); Panoramic view of Vernazza (pic n°5); View of the Cinque Terre National Park (pic n°6);