Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Walking in nature has never been better than in the Cinque Terre! The easy walk takes only 25 minutes from Riomaggiore to Manarola. The panoramic views overlooking the Mediterranean (called the Ligurian Sea here) are dotted with exotic plants like the agave and cactus, as well as fascinating geological rock formations in layers. At both ends of the path are the train stations, so you can hop on the train for under two euros to get to the next Cinque Terre village or many other cities in Italy.

Via Dell’ Amore trail seen from upper street in RioMaggiore

Heading to Manarola from Riomaggiore Hiking trail

These next photos are the path that begins in Monterosso, the northern Cinque Terre village where we stay for my Italy Retreat For Women.  It continues for 90 minutes to the next village of Vernazza. Climbing up past one of the Monterosso beaches, we begin our journey.  It’s a challenge and a transformational experience, but we take our time, and rest along the way drinking lots of water. I recommend bringing small packets of electroytes along with plenty of water. If you have bad knees, I don’t recommend this hike since there are around 700 steps along the way.

Climbing into the light through grape vineyards and olive trees

Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza

The view of Monterosso from the hiking trail to Vernazza

Some of the path has hand rails, but not all of it

Take your time walking any of the trails, visit the quaint stores in each town, eat the delicious food and savor every moment. When I teach my workshop, I focus each day on how we can live la dolce vita, the sweet life, wherever we are even in our daily lives at home. Savor each moment, do something you are afraid of doing, live outside your comfort zone.

Climbing vertical and horizontal mountain ridges

As you can see in the photos, we’re not wearing hiking boots, but good walking sandals or shoes, like Merrells or Ecco.

Passing vineyards, citrus orchards, olive groves, and brooks

Love this bridge

Jewelry sales on the trail! Made our day.

There are many rewards for hiking this gorgeous trail and one is a surprise artisan selling his beautiful creations.  The other two, of course, is breathtaking views, and the inner sense of true accomplishment.

After 90 minutes, the jewel village of Vernazza appears in the horizon

Everyone can find something to love in the Cinque Terre. Join me next year and find out for yourself.

Vernazza Trails and Beauty

Vernazza: A welcome site after a long hard hike from Monterosso in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Alone now in the B&B in Lucca after a wild wonderful Italy Retreat for Women with 10 amazing women from around the country. First time we did not have someone from another country. I love the gathering of women who don’t all know each other,  who laugh together and learn from one another. Always a chance to embrace possibilities.

We learned about gratitude and breaking free from beliefs that jam boulders in our lives.  We focused on our ‘wants’.  There’s something so powerful in the simplicity of  learning to choose life and make the most of it. The willingness to make mistakes while finding our way, to fall down and bruise ourselves  (some of us literally did), and then to laugh or cry some and get up and do it again. (In Italy, maybe eating a few gelati and pizzas in between the trying.) To be more of who we are, having intentions but not being attached to their outcome.
Each day a step to living outside our comfort zone, then a swim in the Mediterranean or a climb through the vineyards on the Cinque Terre trails. We can always grab inspiration from the Townspeople of Vernazza and Monterosso who have worked so very hard in their recovery.

The trails are open in the Cinque Terre except for the trail between Corniglia and Manarola. In the four years I have been there, it has not been open. Word is that it will not be fixed, and it is not from the October 2011 mudslide, but from old damage that cannot be repaired on the side of the mountain. There is, however, an upper trail that although more challenging, will connect Corniglia and Manarola, so that you can hike to all five of the Cinque Terre villages.

I am practicing managing my frustration at not being able to upload more of my photos on this post. It’s just not happening right now. But stay tuned!

Hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy

Hiking in Cinque Terre (the five villages), Italy

Have the Cinque Terre Park trails recovered from the October 2011 floods and mudslides? Good question.  Some trails are still closed and some opened. As of this post, April 30, 2012, only 2 of the 5  Cinque Terre trails are opened.You can check at Cinque Terre National Park site for updates.  Click on the British flag in the top right for English, but all of the named paths are not translated in English, so check out the page in Italian first.

Via Dell’Amore Hiking Trail, easy 20 min., from Riomaggiore to Manarola in the Cinque Terre, Italy






Beautiful paths meander through grape vineyards and olive groves overlooking the Mediterranean. The scene alternates from shade to rocky stairs in the bright sun with breathtaking views of the turquoise waters below. You want to wear good walking shoes, which you can read about on an older post. On each of my visits over the past 3 years, I have walked the trails, and always wore my Merrell sandals with a back strap.  I did not want to pack heavy hiking boots, and for the Cinque Terre trails, hiking boots are not necessary.  The trails above the Cinque Terre Trails may be more challenging, but I’ve never walked there.

I do not recommend flip flops even though, amazingly, I’ve seen tourists walking in them!  I’m sure they were sorry they did it. You can stop and rest along the way, and meet people from around the world. The Via Dell’Amore Trail (in the top photo) is easy, well paved and has strong guardrails, so even baby strollers can make it.  This is not the case with the other trails.  There are many steps and uneven ground, so I will repeat…have good walking shoes or sandals with back straps, and get in shape wearing those same shoes at least a month or two before leaving for Italy.  You will enjoy your trip so much more.  During this pre-travel time of getting more in shape, walk up hills and stairs, and even walking around the towns in Italy will be so much more pleasant.  One piece of advice my masseuse gave me to make walking up the steps easier, was to lean forward just a bit, and lift your knees up.  It worked.

Bring several bottles of water with you as you hike. The trail from Monterosso to Vernazza  is open as of this writing in April 30,  2012. It takes 90 minutes to hike.  Four minutes on the train or ferry!

Tree growing sideways on the Cinque Terre trail

Mary, course participant taking in the beauty. Only a small part was this narrow.

Cinque Terre trails

Trail #1 from Monterosso to Vernazza is a little challenging, as it has hundreds and hundreds of steps scattered throughout the walk,(some say 700) but you can rest and take your time.  If stairs are difficult, then I do not advise, but if you are in halfway decent shape, it’s breathtaking and you will remember it for the rest of your life.  I was a little concerned about walking it, so for the first two years that I held my Italy Retreat For Women there, I did not attempt it. But now, I can’t wait to go again.

If you are afraid of heights, I would not recommend Trail #1, the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, but it is a safe trail.  Thousands of people do it everyday.  Nevertheless, you would enjoy the wide paved path of the Via Dell’Amore, Trail #5 from Riomaggiore to Manarola, which would take you 20 minutes if you did not stop to take photos and gaze out at the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Like entering a secret garden on this trail

From Rebuild Monterosso site: “Trail #1 Monterosso-Vernazza has had a lot of work done, some parts of the trail have been built back up where there were landslides and some parts have even been improved by being widened and flattened. There is just some work still needing to be done toward Vernazza, but signs show that it is being worked on at this time.”

Trail coming from Corniglia toward Vernazza, seen in the lower distance, Trail #4.

Monterosso to Levanto Trailis not normally on the 5 trail system, but it is breathtaking.

Kate Little from Little Paradiso blog said, that  “the Monterosso-Levanto  trail  passes through woods even more than the Monterosso-Vernazza Trail #1. Like all of the trails, I would start early or in the late afternoon and of course, make sure that everyone has at least a liter of water each.”