Staring off into the Mediterranean Sea, standing on the edge of an Italian cliffside, pure bliss pulses through my veins. A view so pristine, these visuals that are before my eyes cannot be fabricated. A World UNESCO Heritage Site, hiking the trails of the Cinque Terre has been a bucket list item for quite some time.
“Cinque” meaning five and “terre” meaning lands, the Cinque Terre is a region made up of five seaside villages on the Italian Riveria. From South to North, the towns are- Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.We spent 3 days visiting this Italian oasis, and wished we had planned to stay longer!
We chose to stay in a cute little AirBnb in La Spezia, a port town that is 10 minutes south of the Cinque Terre. Our in-laws suite, was situated up in the mountains, which we could only access by a twenty minute bumpy bus ride with the locals or hiking up the hill!
We met up with our host Gabriele, who barely spoke any english, who introduced us to his grandma and mom who also live on the property. Throughout the night we could hear the Italian families making dinner and sharing words, which made our stay authentic and comforting.The scenery was even prettier than what was advertised online…fruit trees, olive trees, vineyards- you name it!
Brian and I decided to hike down the hill for an Italian dinner, granted we would burn off the calories! The scenery was amazing, winding through the forest and Italian vineyards, with an ocean view!
Unfortunately we missed one of the trail signs and ended up getting lost! We accidentally wound up on someones private property, and just our luck they had an automated gate to let you out when you drive in or out. Out of nowhere, they drove out of their driveway just as we realized we weren’t supposed to be there. The gate opened and Brian and I DARTED through, just before it could close! This was just the beginning of series of unfortunate (but very fortunate) events! What was supposed to be a quick adventure into town became an episode of Survivor real quick…
We eventually found our way into town, after winding through some questionable neighborhoods. Surprisingly finding some sort of food in this town was impossible, and the fact that no one spoke english did not help! We decided to make our way to a grocery store and ride the bus back home to make dinner. Sounds great. Just what we needed, a night of cooking which would remind us of home. We picked out some pasta, pasta sauce, Italian sausage, bottle of wine, some juice for the morning and a few other items.
Beknownst to us, the bus only runs until 7:45pm and if you miss it, hiking up the hill is your only choice. OF COURSE! Leaving the grocery store at about 7:15 pm we scrambled to find a “tobacci” shop, which is the only place that you can buy bus tickets. CLOSED, all of them CLOSED! So, to the hiking trail it was, with all of our groceries!
Because of our mishap before and taking the wrong trail, we had no idea where the trail even started. Thank god Brian somehow miraculously lead us back to the trail, using an offline map app called “CityMaps2Go,” which I highly recommend to anyone traveling Europe. About half way through the hike, we saw the sign we had missed before that lead us off trail. The sign was one-sided, so when hiking down the hill there was no way for us to see the trail marker.The hike was treacherous and humid, especially with no water and carrying 15 pounds of groceries. About half the way up the hill, my knight and shining armor offered to carry all of the bags. Chivalry is not dead ladies!
We eventually made it back to cook our pasta and drink our wine. Out of all the Italian tourist things we did during our stay, hiking up the hill for an hour with all of groceries in tow was probably the most Italian thing we could have done.
Hiking Corniglia to Vernazza
If you ever have the choice to take the coastal route, do it baby. As an avid-ish hiker, the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza was challenging but not impossible. Their is some elevation and steep climbs up and down, but the views are breathtaking. I liked that the trails were not incredibly crowded. Even during peak season, we were able to go at our own pace and take pictures with unobstructed views. Vernazza was a good place to end our hike because we were able to swim in the alcove to cool down and eat lunch on the water.
At the end of the hike, we wound up in the streets of Vernazza to mozy our way into town. Such a cute little village!
Lunch and a swim to reward ourselves for hiking! Fish for me and pizza for my Italian Stallion!
Read my article, “Oh My My Monterosso” to see how we spent the rest of our day in the Cinque Terre!