Hiking Italy’s Cinque Terre

I had heard of Cinque Terre from friends who studied abroad in Florence and instantly knew I wanted to visit.

Cinque Terre means “five towns” in Italian. It is a region, not a place. A hiking path (and train) connect five towns along the northern coast of Italy.

It was a six and a half hour train ride from Naples up to La Spezia, the first major train station at the base of Cinque Terre. But with a good book, it surprisingly went pretty fast!

When we arrived in La Spezia, we discovered that due to the threat of landslides, we couldn’t hike from the first town to the second town or the second town to the third town.

La Spezia is actually a fairly large city! It looked a lot like Florence which we were surprised by. It had those cobblestone streets I love and cute outdoor cafes. And our hotel was a 20 minute walk from the train station so we saw a lot of it.

We went up to Cinque Terre literally for one day of hiking.

So our first full day, we woke up at 7 a.m., had the free breakfast in the hotel and headed out for the third town, which was the first town we could hike from.

The first town, Corniglia, was absolutely beautiful. It was so small and no one spoke English and it felt like authentic Italy. It was still pretty early so it wasn’t very hot or sunny so we just explored the little alleys (really looking for the path!).

When we finally found it, we started our climb. Our walk from Corniglia to the fourth town, Vernazza, was about an hour I believe. It wasn’t too hard but we are incredibly out of shape after traveling for two months. I think it took us about an hour.

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The fourth town was a bit more touristy. It definitely had more people and we saw a giant group of Asian tourists following a guide. So it was definitely more popular. But it still had the quaint alleys, cobblestones and cafe.

We were told the hike between the last two towns are the hardest. It is said to take two hours and 15 minutes so we were determined to make it in less than that.

While we were trying to find where the path started again in Vernazza, we walked into a cafe that said, “Don’t ask if we have eggs. You’re in Italy. Eat our food.” Although I’ve gotten a little tired of chocolate croissants every morning for breakfast, it’s so true! Tourists are so quick to complain about the food but hey, time to try something new people.

The last hike was definitely much harder. There were countless stairs (we heard a rumor it was 365, one for every day of the year) but I’m not entirely sure how many there actually are. We were dripping in sweat from head to toe. But it felt good to get a little bit of real exercise for once. And the views were absolutely breathtaking.

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The last town, Monterosso, was definitely the most touristy by far. First of all, the hike to itΒ took a bit longer than an hour for us because we had to keep stopping so much to let other people pass. The paths were not very wide, sometimes only one human foot wide, so we kept having to stop.

But Monterosso also has the largest beach so there were definitely people who came there just to enjoy the sun. It was very crowded and we heard a lot of people speaking English. We had planned to jump in the Sea at the end but our bodies were so tired that we just jumped on the train back to La Spezia.

So the hike only took us about three hours…we went all that way for a three hour hike. It probably wasn’t entirely worth it but hey, we had the time and it was absolutely beautiful. If we had only had time for one place, I think I would have preferred Cinque Terre to the Amalfi Coast. There were less people and it was just as beautiful. If we hadn’t been going back down Italy to get to Greece, it would have made sense. But more about that in my next post!

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