Ah Corniglia: Cinque Terre’s answer to paradise. Perched atop a hill, this is the smallest of the five villages that make up this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site - and, arguably, the least visited. The reason for this is by no means because a visit isn’t justified (as it most certainly is), but more likely because the walk up to the village puts some people off. But actually, the fact that the village is less crowded is one of its most appealing features. |
For those who do venture up to Corniglia, Cinque Terre’s hidden gem, there is so much to discover.
An Essential Guide
You could be forgiven for thinking that, due to its location, this pretty village doesn’t have a beach. But, guess what? It does. It requires a little seeking out and it is not the sandy offering you may imagine, but it is quiet, concealed and a gorgeous spot to spend an hour or two. Appearing as if from an Italian novel, the beach is lapped by sparkling crystal waters and overlooked only by the rugged cliffs, which protect it from the elements.
In only a 10-minute walk from the centre, you can be sunbathing and swimming to your heart’s content. The walk down is by stairs that are indicated by a hand-painted wooden sign pointing to ‘Al Mare’.
The Back Streets
There is no such thing as a quiet village in the Cinque Terre, but this one comes closest. With so many little bars and restaurants tucked into the cobbled back streets, you can easily get off the main tourist trail. Late afternoon is a lovely time to be here in Corniglia; Cinque Terre crowds have mostly left and everything slows down, leaving you able to take a breath and wander the streets while marvelling at the dramatic coastal views.
This is the middle of the five villages and the ideal spot to stop off if you’re doing the famous 14km hike along the Blue Trail from start to finish. Alternatively, you can start in Corniglia and take on the trail in either direction to reach the next village. It is wise to head off early on the walks as the sun can be rather hot in the midday, despite the shade thrown out from the leafy orchards, vineyards and terraced olive groves that you pass. The town is a good place to start a walk as you’re already high up, so there is less climbing to do. Views from these trails are spectacular.
Enjoying a Bite to Eat
If you’re looking to make up a picnic or just grab some fruit, it is good to know that there are three grocery shops in town. All sell fresh bread, cheese, meat and wine (what more do you need?). Alternatively, you can head to Pan e Vin or KM0 for a focaccia or a pastry. For a more leisurely lunch or dinner, the tiny Cantina De Mananan is a cosy little place that serves incredible seafood dishes. It is small and intimate so it is a good idea to book. La Posada is another wonderful option - this one boasts great views too.
Hopefully we have inspired you to spend a little more time when you visit this area in Corniglia. Cinque Terre day trips are easy to organise, so book with a reputable tour operator and you can expect an excellent and memorable trip all round.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best itinerary to visit Corniglia, Cinque Terre along with the four other gorgeous villages of this famous region. 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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