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The Cinque Terre Trails

Pauline Kenny

The Cinque Terre are five small villages on the eastern Ligurian coast.

Trail Times

Click to purchase map from TrekTools.com

This trail information is taken from the map shown below, which is a photo of a sign on the tourist office in Levanto. Click to get it as a large image that you can print. Or purchase a hiking map (shown to the right) from TrekTools.com (tourist map for Cinque Terre, 1:40,000 scale, trails are marked).

Route 1 is the high route up in the hills; route 2 (known as the "Sentiero Azzuro" or Blue Trail) is the low route, the route most people are talking about when they talk about the Cinque Terre trail. The complete high trail from Levanto to Portovenere takes 12 hours. The Cinque Terre lower trail from Monterosso to Riomaggiore takes 5 hours.

Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

Route# Start Destination Walking Time

The Cinque Terre Lower Trail from Monterosso to Riomaggiore

2

Monterosso Riomaggiore 5 hr

The Cinque Terre Lower Trail from Monterosso to Riomaggiore

2 Monterosso Vernazza 1 hr 45 min
2 Vernazza Corniglia 1 hr 45 min
2 Corniglia Riomaggiore 1 hr 30 min

The High Trail from Levanto to Portovenere

1

Levanto Portovenere 12 hr

The High Trail from Levanto to Portovenere (part by part)

1 Levanto Colla di Gritta 2 hr 30 min
1 Colla di Gritta Drignana 1 hr 30 min
1 Drignana Cigoletta 2 hr
1 Cigoletta La Croce 1 hr 45 min
1 La Croce Telegrafo 1 hr 15 min
1 Telegrafo Portovenere 3 hr

Trails Up from the Cinque Terre Towns

9 Monterosso Soviore 1 hr 30 min
17 Soviore P.So Bardelone 2 hr
7 Vernazza Ricco D. Golfo 3 hr 30 min
8 Vernazza Drignana 1 hr 30 min

Trails from Levanto

1 and 10 Levanto Monterosso 2 hr
14 Levanto Colla D. Bagari 1 hr 30 min
19 Levanto Foce di Lavaggio 2 hr
21 Levanto Foce di Montale 2 hr 15 min
18 Levanto P.So Bardelone 2 hr
12 Levanto Colla di Gritta 1 hr 15 min

Click for a large map of the trails

Click for large map of the trails (large image file)

We Walked the Trails!

These are my trip report notes from our walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso in June 2000. We did not do the whole trail in one day, but in a combination of two separate half days. We returned in September 2003 and did the trail in one day.

 

June 2000: We drove to Riomaggiore and parked in the 5 level car park at the top of the town. The road ends at this car park, so the parking is easy to find.

  • The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is paved (it is called the "Via dell'Amore" or Path of Love) and is short, only 20 minutes between the towns.
  • From Manarola on the trail is not paved. It becomes narrow and steep in many places, but the trail never becomes excessively difficult. The walk from Manarola to Corniglia takes one hour. The last half of the trail walks you up a beautiful switchback staircase that goes from sea level to the town up on a cliff.
  • From Corniglia to Vernazza the trail gets more narrow and includes lots of climbing and descending as it makes its way along the coast. It takes about an hour and a half.
  • The last portion, from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare, is the longest. It takes about two hours with lots of up and down. I counted 700 steps down to Monterosso at the end.

You could do the trail easily in one day (about five hours) - unless you get caught in a horrible storm like we did.

Liguria, Cinque Terre, trail going north from Corneglia

Liguria, Cinque Terre, trail going north from Corniglia

We did the first little part of the trail and loved it. When you reach Manarola you have two towns under your belt and you figure, let's just do the whole thing! So we continued to Corniglia and got there just in time for lunch. All the towns have very nice restaurants. Corniglia is perhaps the most limited: only two restaurants, no snack bar type places. But this is where we were at lunch time, and in Italy, you get to a restaurant between 1pm and 2pm or you don't eat! It rained a bit while we were having lunch so we were pretty pleased with ourselves missing the storm.

Then we continued on to Vernazza. After about 45 minutes of straight uphill, we finally started downhill. And then the storm hit. We sheltered in an olive grove and stood there for half an hour in a driving, cold rain with lots of lightning and thunder. The path turned to a river. The olive trees sprayed water onto us. Then it all stopped and the sun came out and we continued to Vernazza.

We had to give up with only one town to go because it was getting late and it looked like it could rain again. In Vernazza the electricity was off because of the storm. The train platform was crowded. (I forgot to mention that a train runs every hour between the towns, so you hike one way and then take the train back.) It started raining again and we went into a shelter on the platform. A group of Italians who had been out hiking started singing, in beautiful voices, every song they knew about rain. Including "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" which they just hummed because no one knew the words (I don't remember them). Then one guy did a magic trick. The train pulled into the station and we all raced out into the rain and got on.

A couple of days later we drove to Monterosso to do the part of the hike we missed. We took the train to Vernazza, had an excellent lunch, then walked the two hours back to Monterosso. This day was hot with not a cloud in the sky; very different from the day we hiked the earlier part. The heat was overwhelming (to me, Steve is always fine in the heat). In Monterosso we went swimming for an hour before we left. Wonderful!

Cinque Terre trail, June 2000

The trail goes along the hillsides that go down to the sea

So, now we love the Cinque Terre. Thank you Rick Steves for telling us about it! Next time we want to stay even closer. I think you could have a fun time spending a few nights in a hotel in Monterosso or just to the north in Levanto, and doing the hikes in the area. You can hike, as we did, between the five towns at the lower level, or you can do a hike much higher up that goes above the five towns. You can hike from Levanto to Monterosso. You can hike from Riomaggiore to Portovenere. The train connects all these towns except Portovenere.

Other Hikes in the Region

From Levanto to Monterosso

This is a lovely extension of the Cinque Terre trail and is less crowded. It takes about 2 1/2 hours from Monterosso to Levanto. See our page on the Levanto Trails.

From Santa Margarita to Portofino

> Jean from MI, October 2001: The trail from Portofino to Santa Margherita is tough but beautiful. It was a bit challenging to find, and we ended up walking for a short while on a narrow, windy road. But it is marked once you get going. From the harbor area, you must walk up the hill and then go to the right. There is a road there, and the trail heads up from that road. I believe there is a yellow church that we were told to find close to the trailhead.

The trail started out relatively level, and then turns into millions of steps! It's amazing how you can hike from one seaside village to another and it's uphill the entire way. The trail is close to the water most of the way, but also takes you through some tiny villages and vineyards.

I would recommend starting this hike in Santa Margherita and going to Portofino. To find it in Santa Margherita, you would walk down the main street by the water until the shops end. I believe there is a sign that guides you toward the trail from there.

Resources

Travel Notes - Liguria: Slow Travel, the Cinque Terre

Travel Notes - Liguria: Slow Travel, Levanto trails

www.cinqueterreonline.com: Cinque Terre Online, some local information

www.5terre.com: The 5 Terre Network, lists of local businesses

www.fishnet.it: Non-commercial site with real information about the Cinque Terre

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