The Sentiero Azzuro is the most popular trail for a Cinque Terre hike, and it’s easy to see why. The scenic cliff-side path promises spectacular views of the sea, sections that wind through olive groves and steep vineyards, and stop offs at quaint medieval churches. |
Not only that, but the trail takes in all the villages, is suitable for all endurance levels and can be completed in a day trip from Florence. A Cinque Terre hike along this route is generally considered one of the best things to do in Italy, especially if you love nature and the outdoors.
About the Blue Trail
The Sentiero Azzuro (The Blue Trail) spans about eight miles along the Italian Riveria coastline. You begin the journey in Riomaggiore and gradually make your way through the four distinct segments, stopping at each village. You end your Cinque Terre hike at Monterosso al Mare.
If you plan to walk the length of the route it will take around three to six hours, depending on your level of fitness and how often you stop for a break to catch your breath or to take in the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery around you.
Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) is the first short segment of the trail. Carved into the cliff face, it takes just 30-40 minutes to walk but boasts romantic coastal views that you will remember for a long time to come.
Lover’s Lane is also the easiest part of the adventure, the path here being wide and flat. Look out for the famous kissing statue before heading into the tunnel to your first village stop at Manarola. The tunnel itself is decorated with countless declarations of love in the form of colourful graffiti.
Manarola to Corniglia
On this section of the Cinque Terre hike you’re guaranteed views over spectacular gardens and the sea’s azure waters. The path climbs up to an abandoned railway line and ultimately leads you toward Corniglia, which is the only one of the five towns not to have direct access to the sea. Keep an eye out for the small gothic church built in the fourteenth century in the name of the town’s patron saint, San Pietro.
Corniglia to Vernazza
Along this segment you will enjoy the array of exotic flora that the region has to offer. Fabulously vibrant flowers, unique plants and lush olive groves await you along the inclines. Vernazza is often considered the prettiest of the towns thanks to its characteristic coloured houses overlooking the harbour.
Vernazza to Monterosso
The stairs and narrow paths on this part of the trail may seem daunting, but the panorama at the top across is well worth the challenge. The 360-degree views over the five towns is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
To get the most out of your Cinque Terre hike, I would recommend booking with a local tour operator. Having a guide show you around will mean your trip is structured properly, that you get to know some of the local history and culture while you walk, and that you won’t miss out on any of the best views.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best Cinque Terre hike. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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