Hiking in 5 Terre (16 August)

Firstly, 5Terre or Cinque Terre are 5 little villages in the northwest of Italy by the Ligurian Sea. These villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 5 villages are linked with different hiking roads. You can find a suitable path for every type of hiker. There are trails that are more challenging, but there are also paths suitable for walking with flip-flops.

When we first arrived to Italy, Mari told us to definitely visit 5 Terre.  The visit is usually at least a day trip. Mari advised us that the most convenient way is to go by train and preferably the to take the first train in the morning. Water, hiking shoes and food are a must to bring along, because everything there is super expensive and on the hiking trails you can not even find a place where to buy something – only in the villages..

So we prepared the sandwiches for the next day and planned to go early in the morning of the 16th. Unfortunately, since we had too much wine the night before, we slept in. We should have woke up at 6.30 to catch a train, but we manage to sleep until 9. So we did some additional research and decided to go to 5Terre by car. It turned out also to be a little cheaper to pay for the toll roads, fuel and parking, than to pay for the train tickets which were 9.5 Eur per person one way from Genova.

It was 1,5-hour drive via highway and when we arrived (around 12.00), the road was full of cars parked there. The police did not allow us to drive to Monterosso al Mare, so we needed to park 3 km from the city and walk or go by bus. We decided to walk. Since the hiking trail map we got from the information center was basically useless, for the first hour we were looking for the right way to get down to town. So we walked already at least 6 km to get to the Monterosso al Mare and from there the hiking trail started.

Monterosso al Mare did not impress us a lot. It was very touristy, a lot of people with busses, trains, and boats traveling back and forth. There was a big beach and also a huge parking lot – so we did not understand why we were not allowed into the town to park there. This was quite confusing.  There was, however, one big and nice vineyard which caught Jaanus` eye.

When we managed to find the right trail towards Vernazza, we were greeted by the ticket counter at the beginning of the road. The ticket to the road was 7,50 – this was a surprise for us. Later on, when talking with Mari, she said that some of the trails are for a fee, but some are not. So we managed to take the “right” one. When we were already at the ticket counter, we saw no other option than to buy the ticket and make the best of the trail.

The trail itself was quite difficult, with a lot of stairs climbing up. People were not allowed with flip-flops to this trail. We managed to start our walk around 2.00 which was also the hottest part of the day. So physically, we were both quite challenged. Kaija especially had the difficulty to manage the heat and the steps, so we were doing breaks every 5 minutes. After climbing in the Tatar’s, we both assumed that this trail is a piece of cake, but certainly, it was not. This is probably why it is recommended to go early morning or in the afternoon. On the trail, there were many magnificent views to the Ligurian Sea and also to the small town of Vernazza

Vernazza itself was much nicer than Monterosso al Mare. The narrow streets in the old town, colorful houses and beautiful small harbor was exactly like we had seen pictures about the 5Terre. We took some time off in Vernazza, had lunch and a quick swim. It was soo hot that the swim in the sea was not cooling us down even a little. The first rail from Monterosso to Vernazza was already challenging, so we were quite doubtful whether we should do the next trail from Vernazza to Corniglia.  But since we still had some time left and we did not want to go back the same trail, we decided to hike the next trail as well and return to Monterosso with the train.

We were glad to have taken the second trail as well, because the views were getting better and better. The second trail was shorter and was supposed to be also easier. It was shorter, because we managed to walk through it in an hour, but it was not easier. We were still quite out of breath.

The third village, Corniglia was actually on a top of a cliff. Since we were a little under time pressure and we were also quite tired, we decided not to go walking around on the streets of the Corniglia.

So we went directly towards the train station and we hopped on the next train to Monterosso al Mare. The train ride itself was very nice because the train went right by the sea.

When we arrived to the Monterosso al Mare we still had to walk 3 km back to the car and this road was only up to the mountain. We were both quite tired, but still we did not want to wait for the bus. So we decided that we are going to start walking and we try to hitchhike back to the car. We had passed already one-third of the road top hill when a nice Columbian old couple did pick us up. The locals were very ignorant when hitchhiking and the majority of the tourists on the way would have taken us on board, but they lacked the space in the car.

In total, it took us the whole day to drive and hike in 5Terre. We managed to see a little bit of the 3 towns, so we still have 2 more to go at some point if we come back. We heard later in the third town that some trails between the last two towns are also closed, so we were quite lucky that we decided to do the trip starting from Monterosso al Mare and not the other way around.

When going to 5Terre, we certainly would recommend going there if it is not that hot (early morning or evening), bring some food and water with you and be prepared for a decent hike with comfortable clothing.

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