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 colorful villages, an amazing coastline, clear waters and the feeling of being welcomed: this is what makes Cinque Terre unforgettable. Riomaggiore (pic n°1), Manarola, Corniglia (pic middle), Vernazza, Monterosso: visiting all of them is a must!
This is a walking tour since it is the best way to visit Cinque Terre and enjoy the beautiful landscape. There are many hiking trails along the coast that allow you to visit these villages and move from one to the other by walk. 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 that 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 also 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 made from this sale 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 since it is flat, paved, protected by a fence and accessible for disabled people as well. Because of that and because of the spectacular views you can enjoy here, the Path of Love is also is the most crowded part of the whole trail. Consider walking on 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.
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, colorful houses perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea, small typical shops, and a vibrant atmosphere. They are perfect to have 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 should absolutely 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); Corniglia (pic middle)