Five Enchanting Villages Joined By Sublime Trails
by Maria E. Bellini
Where in Italy?
Neatly tucked away in Italy’s Liguria region, the Cinque Terre are located just several miles east of La Spezia, one of Italy’s largest naval cities.
The five main villages that make up the Cinque Terre are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglio and Monterosso al Mare. Teasing their way up the big, solemn coastline that rises stately from the Ligurian Sea, these colorful hamlets are a familiar image to Italy lovers worldwide. This Unesco World Heritage Site is also Italy’s oldest and smallest National Park.
One of the delights of visiting this area lies in stepping off the trails and into each of the different villages.
As you leave the paths, heady with familiar yet intriguing aromas from the Mediterranean Maquis, blissfully invigorated and flushed after a trot across the terraced hills, discovering each village’s own separate identity becomes an endeavour to be savoured.
Whilst all of the Cinque Terre’s five villages will yield those defining Ligurian features: narrow stone houses huddled together in the cool shade of skinny alleys, a musty stillness carrying a faint whisper of a breeze that accompanies your meanderings, the sudden turn of a corner followed by the joy of stepping into a busy summer Piazza… the subtle act of observing, gently probing and discovery, will be yours alone.
So Why go to the Cinque Terre for Walking, Hiking or Running?
With over 120km of waymarked Trails, all easily accessible, it’s no wonder that the Cinque Terre is a favourite destination for hikers and runners. The abundant Trails are clearly waymarked and well maintained and what with plenty of information available both on and offline, it’s also an ideal choice for anyone who enjoys the research and planning stages of a walk-run-hike holiday.
When planning your trip, bear in mind:
- Trails get busy in the summer
- Many paths and trails are narrow.
- Certain parts have little shade, always bring protection, sun screen and a hat.
- It can get very hot, always bring water.
Useful tip: Due to geological movement and weather conditions, it’s not uncommon for parts of the Cinque Terre trail system to close temporarily or have limited access due to maintenance.
Want something more?
If you’re feeling adventurous check out the 440 kilometres (270 mi) Alta Via dei Monti Liguri the long-distance waymarked hiking trail that runs the whole length of Liguria.
What Trail Race Events can I enter in the area?
- Sciacche Trail – Cinque Terre Ultra Trail takes place in April
- Trail Golfo dei Poeti – Cinque Terre takes place in September
- ALVI Trail Stage Race takes place in June
Other Trail Races in Liguria
- Trail Aschero
- Gran Trail Rensen
- Trail Val Maremola
- Trail Portofino
- Trail Marmorassi
Find out more
A great interactive tool is available on the Cinque Terre Park’s website – which gives information updates regarding the Trail network, and also offers advice on any trail closures in course.
Incinqueterre.com has an interactive map, which offers quite a detailed explanation of whichever trail you select.
Wikitravel gives good coverage of the area, with suggested routes and waliking times.
A pass is required to gain access to the Cinque Terre’s trails. It includes various benefits, and there are different options available including rail travel and duration.
Cards can be purchased in the “Welcome Centers of the Cinque Terre National Park” – Full details of the different cards available ca be found here on the ‘card’ section of Cinque Terre National Park’s website.
When to go
Spring, early and late summer, and Autumn. It gets very busy in the peak tourist season, so be prepared to share the Trails during high summer in August.
Average temperatures follow:
January 9°C (48°F) February 10°C (50°F) March 13°C (55°F) April 17°C (63°F) May20°C (68°F) June 23°C (73°F) July 27°C (81°F) August 27°C (81°F) September 23°C (73°F) October 20°C November 15°C (59°F) December 11°C (52°F)
Fly to Genoa, Pisa or Milan
Take the frequent, local trains that go from La Spezia to Genova.They stop at each of the villages and day passes are available.
- Cinque Terre’s white wines: Sciacchetrà, Cinque Terre
- Off trail – Take a ferry trip and see the coast from the water!
- Visit nearby Portofino and San Fruttuoso
- Head to Levanto and hire a boat for the day – no licence needed.