Hiking in the Cinque Terre from Manarola to Riomaggiore, Italy
Here’s something you should know about hiking in the Cinque Terre in 2016.
Once upon a time there was a trail that ran along the coastline all the way through all five towns of the Cinque Terre. It started in Monterosso al Mare and went through Vernazza, Corniglia, and Manarola, all the way to Riomaggiore. This trail is sometimes called the Blue Trail and sometimes called the #2 trail. Of the loads of hikes available to hike in the CInque Terre, this trail is by far the most popular (read: crowded) and you have to pay a daily fee per person to walk on it.
For two reasons, we never went on the Blue Trail (#2). One was the fee amounted to about 20 euros per day for my family and we are used to hiking for free. The other is that the portions between Corniglia and Manarola and Manarola and Riomaggiore are closed. So we considered doing the #2 one day between Corniglia and Vernazza and then on from Vernazza to Monterosso, but there were so many other free trails to do that we did not get around to it. Also the free trails tended to be more sparsely used which was nice, since lots of the paths on the hills in the Cinque Terre are rather narrow.
The last part of the #2 from Manarola to Riomaggiore is called the Via del Amore and it is the easiest walk in the Cinque Terre. However since it is closed, the other trail over the mountain, the rather steep #531, was a good bit more crowded than the other trails we walked. Most people were walking it in the opposite direction from us, so we had to step aside a lot to let people pass. I think we went up the steeper side though (from Manarola to the top of the hill) so I was glad to be going the direction we went.
I would always rather go up a steep section than down. (I’m looking back down towards Manarola in the above photo.)
The narrow stairs in the photos above and below kind of illustrate what I mean by steep.
But hello very lovely views of the vineyards.
And the sea.
All week in the Cinque Terre, we loved getting high above these villages and watching the towns become little colorful building blocks stacked in the distance.
And when you get higher, the other towns and hills of the region come into view.
But watch your step!
Remember that big wooden crucifix from our first hike. You can see it way in the distance now.
Hey MP, can you give me a hand!
So high up that you can see the road leaving Manarola and we’re now almost eye level with the hill top village of Volastra.
And the train tracks between the tunnels.
And then up top, we could finally see Riomaggiore on the other side.
Riomaggiore is a bigger town than Manarola. It seemed to be where lots of the folks who work in all the other towns live.
Ben literally hopped down these trails. It was insane.
I would love to be able to run down uneven rock stairs the way he does.
Down through the vineyards and lemon tree groves we went.
Across the cutest little stone bridge and into the town.
Steep hills and more lemon trees.
Turquoise doors on a shed. Yes please.
These are the stairs we came down to enter Riomaggiore.
And looking back at the bridge.
Into the town.
The trail along the #531 is only about 1 kilometer, but it’s a doozy!
Here’s the road leading to Manarola from Riomaggiore.
And from above, the tiny platform at Riomaggiore.
Actually the platform is a lot longer, it just goes inside the tunnels. They say if the platform at a station is really crowded, then just walk in the tunnel a little ways because when the train stops, part of it will be in the tunnel and you can get on a less crowded train car. Also, we didn’t go it (traveling with children) but there’s supposed to be a pretty fab spot for drinks just above this train station. If you go, let me know how you enjoy it! 🙂
This is my crew at the end of the up and down slog from Manarola to Riomaggiore. These faces are saying: When. Is. Lunch.
Just a minute kids. I have a few photos I want to take first.
Like of these wall murals.
And the walkway into town.
And of the town of Riomaggiore itself!
Whoops, the kids started to get way ahead of me.
But it’s sooooo pretty.
Oh wait, the middle of the road was all torn up. But it will probably be all fixed by summertime.
And still it was a great walkway lined with gelato and pizza and all things Cinque Terre.
We had our pizza from the first place we could find.
Ate it right on the street.
Then we hiked up part of the way to the chapel on the hill.
Always following the red and white striped markings.
Up, up, up and down, down, down.
Down through the town and to the little harbor.
It was a gorgeous day.
We made our way down to the rocks to sit in the sun for a while.
Then per our usual routine, we made our way to the train station.
We hopped on a train and rode the one stop back to Manarola.
PS Here’s a six second video of our day!
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