I’d heard about it. I’d seen the pictures. I’d never been there myself. In the north of Italy, along the Mediterranean sea you find five little towns that are connected by dozens of steps. The Cinque Terre are a popular tourist destination that I finally got to visit.
I was staying in Viareggio, so took the train to La Spezia, where there is a tiny tourist office that sells ticket to Cinque Terre. You need a national park pass to visit the towns, and this pass gives you unlimited train rides during the day in case you don’t want to walk all the way. From La Spezia the train takes you to the first town: Riomaggiore. It’s as majestic as it sounds!
The most popular track takes you along the coast, past all the villages, but unfortunately a big part of this is closed due to landslides in the past years. The ‘via dell’amore’ from Riomaggiore to Manarola is still under construction and even the pathway to Corniglia is closed. Luckily my friend Adina new a perfect other route.
From Riomaggiore we took the train to Manarola, where we walked up trail 506 towards Volastra, a town up on the hill. It was super steep and the steps seemed to go all the way up into the clouds and yet we reached the top sooner than expected. From Volastra we had a nice view, looking back over our shoulders. From here on we could actually enjoy the walk, since all we had to do was walk back down.
We took trail 586 that took us past vineyards and through peoples gardens. At first it was flat and later descended towards the next town. Steam was rising from the sea, creating clouds on this beautiful day. We past kilometers of stone walls that held up the terraces. Apparently the all the walls together are just as long as the Great wall of China!
The five towns have dozens of walking trails, once used by farmers, now popular for active tourists. For today, one walk was enough. I took the train to the remaining towns and even to Levanto, which is also included in the national park pass. We met a lovely lady in a cute shop with fresh products. She taught us how to make real Italian pesto and filled us with samples of wine and limoncello. I’ve finally seen Cinque Terre, but there is so much more to explore. One day I’ll come back, and I’ll bring my walking shoes.