The Heart of Cinque Terre is right on the walking trail and it really is spectacular. The accommodation is rustic and basic, but we loved it (once I got the shower hot). It’s a 2km walk downhill to either Corniglia or Vernazza, which sounds easy, but that means walking 2km back up as well!
Our first day is beautiful and sunny, but the good weather is not meant to last the weekend, so we get out and make the most of it. We trek into Vernazza for some lunch and then decide to keep going to Monterosso.
This next part is a lengthy and arduous climb up and around the cliff side on a narrow and rocky path. Dramatic views unfurl along the way, which makes you forget the strenuous effort it is at times.
The final decent into Monterosso is a welcome relief. We train it back to Corniglia but our weary legs are not looking forward to the climb home.
Don has a brilliant idea (he occasionally does), which is to take the bus up to San Bernadino (a town above Prevo), resulting in a down hill hike! That night we sleep soundly, physically exhausted, the same feeling you have when you’ve been skiing all day.
The rain arrived through the night and it lasts most of the next day. We finally decide to risk the weather around 3pm and take the trail (carefully) down to Corniglia and then catch the train to Riomaggiore.
Each town is spectacular in its own right and each with its own character. Kellie and I stayed here 16 years ago and it is still as I remember it – I’m pretty sure I can even pick out the place we stayed.
We have an early dinner and return to Corniglia and call on Pierpaolo to collect us. It’s not worth risking the trail at dusk (OK, that’s the excuse we came up with).
The weather clears up for our last day and we trek down to Venazza for breakfast, take the train the Manarola, which we agree is our favourite town. It’s a bit less touristico (slightly) and set in a narrow gap between the steep hills.
After lunch we decide to make our way back to Corniglia. It’s a 2 hour hike, with the first 1/2 hr being straight up, long and unforgiving steps of stone (the regular trail which follows the coast line and is relatively flat, is closed due to rock slides), so our only option is straight-up via the town of Volastra
With great satisfaction in our achievement we make it to the top, the views back to Manarola and Riomaggiore are spectacular.
The next part of the trail winds through the terraced vineyards on the side of the hills. At times the trail is so narrow that people are holding the vine stakes for security. We descend into Corniglia and treat ourselves to a gelato.
It’s an hour wait for the next bus to San Bernadino and having conquered the trail from Monterosso we decide to complete the last bit and trek up to Prevo. In comparison to what we had done earlier in the day, it’s a breeze.
We are the only guests that night and we relax by watching the sunset, but we don’t last long, before hitting the sack, once again totally exhausted.