Italy’s Cinque Terre is a string of five towns perched high above the coastline of the Ligurian Riviera. The beautiful region is popular with visitors, including hikers looking to try their hand at one of the many walking routes available. |
Before the invention of trains and cars, walking was the only way to get between the towns. This means the area is very well suited to those looking to get out and about. It is considered home to some of the best hiking in Italy.
The region has many trails of differing difficulties: from a short stroll along ‘Lover’s Lane’, to a trickier route between Vernazza and Monterosso, there really is something for walkers of all abilities. Below is some more information on the different walking routes on offer in and around the towns.
The Via Dell’Amore
Also known as ‘Lovers’ Lane’, the Via Dell’Amore is by far the easiest hike in the region. The route is so named due to its romantic atmosphere and history as a meeting place - the pathway is adorned with hearts and other symbolism. You will know you’re at the right place when you spot the interlocked hearts that decorate the entrance to the gate. This quick ramble is a mere 1km long and it will take you from Riomaggiore train station to Manarola train station in just 20 minutes.
The route from Vernazza to Monterosso offers gorgeous views of nearly all the coastal towns. At just 3km, the walk is short, but do not be fooled, it is widely considered to be one of the toughest hikes in the region. Featuring narrow pathways, steep ascents and descents and toe curling edges, it is certainly not for the faint of heart. However, experienced hikers will undoubtedly enjoy the challenge posed by this trail, and can feel rewarded having tackled some tough hiking in Italy.
The Riomaggiore Ring Trail
The Riomaggiore Ring Trail is the perfect hike for beginners. The 3.5km loop takes you full circle around Riomaggiore. Tackling the hike in a clockwise direction is recommended; leave from the parking area in town and head towards the eleventh century church - the Sanctuary of Montenero. The Church sits high above the sea and makes for a wonderful photo opportunity. Finish off the walk by descending the steep steps back down to Riomaggiore.
The Corniglia-Manarola Trail
Some will know the Corniglia to Manarola trail by its Italian name ‘Porcina’. This 5.5km route is suitable for hikers of most abilities. The steep steps at the start of the walk might be tricky for some, but the rewarding, panoramic views of Corniglia at the top make it well worth the effort. You will have the opportunity to stop at another of the Cinque Terre’s historical landmarks - the Sanctuary of Volastra. From here the hike continues, ending in beautiful Manarola.
The famous Sentiero Azzurro, otherwise known as the ‘Blue Trail’, is one of the best known walking routes in the area. Spanning the length of all five towns, this 7.5km trek was once a mule path. Generally it is recommended to begin the hike in Riomaggiore and then head north towards Monterosso. This is particularly advised for inexperienced hikers, as this way provides the option to skip sections of the route or take the train if the walking gets too difficult. Alta Via delle Cinque Terra
Last but not least, the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre, or ‘Red Trail’, is the region’s mammoth, 35km hike. The Red Trail takes hikers from Porto Venere to Levanto and is without a doubt the longest walking route on offer in the Cinque Terre. It takes between 9 and 12 hours to complete. Those who commit to this day-long hike will have the opportunity to stop at countless restaurants to rest whilst enjoying the outstanding scenery of the Ligurian Riviera. Although long, the route is mostly flat and not too challenging. It is also significantly quieter than the Blue Trail due to its length.
Whether you’re a hiking novice or a seasoned pro, the Cinque Terre is the perfect destination for anyone looking to go hiking in Italy. The outstanding backdrop of the Ligurian Riviera makes even the most exhausting of climbs well worth the effort. Before setting off, be sure to bring lots of water and check that your chosen trail is open at the Cinque Terre National Park office.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Tuscany and beyond. These include the best hiking in Italy on a day trip to Cinque Terre. 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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