Sitting on the train from Florence to Riomaggiore, we were somewhat crushed to leave Villa Agape behind but excited at the same time … we had heard so much about Cinque Terre and were hoping that it was going to measure up. Then again, some naysayers had claimed that it was going to be crowded and touristy. Long story short, we needn’t have worried. Cinque Terre and “OUR” village of Riomaggiore exceeded our wildest expectations. Yes, there are a lot of folks come in via cruise ship and lots and lots of tourists that never leave the village centers BUT once you step off the beaten path, there’s literally nobody on the trails.
Since the entire village of Riomaggiore is built into the hills, there are quite literally no stair-free or flat parts. Which is awesome because once you leave the harbor and the village center behind, it’s just locals and a few adventurous tourists.
We had found an amazing vacation rental on AirBnB and our hostess couldn’t have nicer. The apartment was super modern, had Wifi, we got lots of hiking tips and also had this killer view from our balcony. One of the coolest things was how cheap the food & wine were. We shopped every day for some bread, wine, salami, fresh mozzarella, wine, water and fruits and hardly left the store paying more than 15 Euros.
On the first afternoon, we started our hike up to the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero – our hostess had told us about the entrance to a somewhat hidden hiking path, it starts at the tourist information center that’s at the end of the town near the parking lots, winds up the mountain and offers spectacular views along the way.
The next day, we took the train to Manarola and hiked up to Volastra, where we had a fabulous little lunch, before continuing our hike on to Corniglia.
As we hiked along the Cinque Terre, we only met a handful of hikers up in the mountains, mostly Europeans and all them super nice & helpful.
We hiked from Corniglia to Vernazza (which has amazing gelato places!) and took it easy the next day when started out in Monterosso, where we rented beach chairs for the early parts of the day before hiking back to Vernazza in the afternoon.
It was so cool to hike this entire stretch of coastline and we cannot wait to come back!!!
P.s. try to get reservations at Enoteca Dau Cila, which as of last September had a Michelin star and was simply amazing! We also tried Rio Bistrot but were left a little underwhelmed.
Oh, and there also a fabulous blog but a CT insider, which I found super helpful when planning this trip.
Kat & Damian Mooney
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