The walking takes you to the Ligurian coastline to enjoy some more sublime pleasures for walkers who enjoy being based at a single centre. The Tyrrhenian coast of Liguria has been celebrated for centuries in the arts and this holiday will take you through the ‘five lands’ using a mixture of coastal and inland footpaths. You will be staying in a traditional style ‘albergo’ in the small resort of Monterosso close to the sea, where regional dishes are very much the speciality. The idea is that on most days you either walk from the hotel or take the train from Monterosso to start the next walk. If you don't feel like walking, or if you want to reduce the length of the existing walk, you can always spend time on the beaches or more time discovering the beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre more intimately. Each of the Cinque Terre towns and villages has its own unique character and flavour: Monterosso itself is a small beach resort with an older town behind. The evening light on the sea is quite sublime and there are a whole host of restaurants and ice cream shops. Vernazza is an old port with a turreted fort protecting an inner marina. There are many bars and old buildings that spread out behind the village to where the vineyards rise in steep terraces that are intensively mechanised with little monorails and overhead cables to carry the grapes. Corniglia is built high above the sea on the cliffs of twisted strata jutting out into the water and is famous for its narrow streets and its churches. Manarola sits at the end of the Via dell'Amore: "The Path of Love".There is also the church of Nativita della Vergine with its well-known rosette window. Finally there is Riomaggiore, perhaps the most interesting town of the five, with its medieval tower blocks crammed together overlooking an inlet of intense aquamarine colour, occupied by little fishing and day trip boats. The buildings are all painted in bright pastel shades, complementing the natural Mediterranean light. The sea floor off the Cinque Terre is now a marine National Park.
We grade this tour as ‘Easy – Moderate’, because there are easy options and also some reasonably strenuous day walks. A high standard of fitness is not necessary but in order to make the most of the walking opportunities in this area clients should be able to walk for up to 7 hours a day in hot sun on tracks and paths that can be quite steep and undulating. Some routes have steep steps or loose gravel in places. Being sensibly dressed for the sun and the heat and drinking enough water are both very important!
Make you own way to Monterosso aiming to arrive by early evening. The walk from the station to the hotel takes about 10 minutes along the coastal road, 15 mins with baggage. After checking in, you may have time to take a quick swim, or just walk along the maze of streets. The historical centre of the village is characterized by carrugi (narrow lanes) with little shops selling local handicrafts. It is only a short walk to the Capuchin Monastery where you can enjoy the silence as you look out over the sea.
Accommodation: All nights for this trip are spent in a very pleasant and comfortable 3 star hotel in the old historical centre of Monterosso, a short distance from the sea. The hotel is a family-run establishment with double/twin rooms having ensuite facilities. The hotel has a shaded garden, and a rooftop terrace which overlooks the sea and the town.
Take a half day hilly walk to Levanto along the beautiful coastal path and up to the romantic ruins of an abandoned Franciscan church on a peninsular. From near here you will get a great panoramic view across the Cinque Terre coast. You then drop down to the popular resort town of Levanto, once a Lombard capital, past the old castle. You could then have a gelati and a swim before taking the train back to Monterrosso - there are usually a couple per hour. The route passes by some lovely viewpoints, giving the opportunity to pause on olive terraces overlooking the sea. If it is very hot, there is shade around with oak and pine forest clinging to the coastal hillsides. If you still have energy, just walk back the way you came, and get a different perspective in the afternoon light.
This starts the same way as the Levanto walk, but from near the Franciscan ruins, we take off on a wilder path across the line of forest smothered hills behind Monterosso. A very nice shady walk in places with heathers, pines oaks and brooms as well as aromatic maquis shrubs. There are often marvellous views across the sea. On a clear day you may possibly see Corsica and the Alp Maritime of Southern France across the Mediterranean Sea. The walk reaches an old convent, before plunging down on a pilgrimage trail back to Monterosso.
This walk is the classic walk along the Cinque Terre. Due to rockfall the trail is partially closed at present and the current route is about 7.5 km, but the full trail may reopen. In its original form, one takes the train from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, the walk returns via the coastal path taking in vineyards, citrus groves and picturesque villages as it goes. Head along "The path of love" to Manarola and then continue to Corniglia, Vernazza, and back to Monterosso. The route gets harder as you go along, but if you are feeling the heat, or are tired, you could take a train back from any of the stations. In the current state of affairs, although you can walk to either end of the 'Via dell'Amore', that section is closed off and the walk commences from the railway station at Corniglia. It is still however a popular and beautiful day.
This morning, start by taking the train to Riomaggiore. The walk starts by ascending the magnificent coastline steeply through extensive vineyard terraces and then undulates through mixed woodlands reaching the tiny village of Campiglia with views to islands out to sea. From here the trail gets more remote and rocky, with an excellent picnic lunch stop on a panoramic knoll. On the descent there are vistas of Portovenere and the church of San Pietro sitting on a rock in the Mediterranean. Although not a Cinque Terre village, Portovenere - the port of love - is a beautiful place and a couple of hours can easily be spent walking around the narrow streets. Return ideally by ferry. They run every couple of hours in reasonable weather. In bad conditions you need to take a bus to the train station at La Spezia, to return to Monterosso.
Other walks are possible and can be done on extra days, or as alternatives.
There is a beautiful 7 km /4.3 mile walk in the hills above Manorola and Corniglia, with some great coastal views, visiting the village of Volastra in the vineyards.
Or you could try the tougher 12 km /7.4 mile walk which winds high above the bay from Vernazza into the littoral mountains to walk over Monte Malpertuso in ancient chestnut woodland. This walk has a steep descent back into Vernazza.
All these walks are usually quiet compared to the 'Via dell'Amore.'
Depart from the Cinque Terre after breakfast.
Per Person, Twin Share