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.
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!
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.
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.”
Monterosso to Levanto Trail is 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.”
You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.