Cinque Terre’s picturesque villages win people hearts easily, but I have to warn you, that is not all there is to it. I was deceived by the pictures of Cinque Terre’s villages, well not in a bad way. It isn’t all about the 5 little villages. While these villages are the sole reason why people all over come to visit Cinque Terre, the bulk of this Cinque Terre trip constitutes plenty of trekking on different types of terrain – up and down hills, slopes, stairs and rocks while commuting to and fro villages.
The 5 villages of Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
How to get to Cinque Terre
Wherever you are coming from, you will have to take a train to La Spezia. From La Spezia, you buy a “Trekking Card” at the ticket booth. This card entitles you unlimited travel between each of these villages. It’s a quick way out if you want to skip the trekking and solely visit the villages, but you will not be rewarded with panoramic views of the villages such as the one below.
Train duration journey between Cinque Terre’s villages
The train journey duration for each of the villages is as follows:
La Spezia-Riomaggiore: 9 min
Riomaggiore-Manarola: 2 min
Manarola-Corniglia: 4 min
Vernazza-Monterosso: 5 min
Monterosso-Levanto: 5 min
When you arrive, be sure to check with the information counter which roads are closed. The last I was there, the Romantic Road, which is the road connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola, is closed. It’s a popular road, not just for couples, but also because it is the least challenging route, with the lowest elevations. It is called the Romantic Road as the route is at the border of the cliff, hence you are surrounded by the deep ocean beneath you.
Deep blue ocean.
Cinque Terre hiking durations
At 1.1k long, the Romantic Road takes an estimated 25 min to complete the route. In comparison,
Manarola-Corniglia- 2.9km, est 1h 15 min
Corniglia-Vernazza- 3.45km, est 1h 30 min
Vernazza-Monterosso- 3.6km, est 2h
Sometimes, it’d be better for you not to know these specifics. Do now, worry later, so the saying goes. Hence, with my family in hand, I took them on the longest and the second steepest route, the route from Monterosso to Vernazza. chuckles
If you’re at Monterosso in the late morning, you can catch some fresh food, fruits and vegetable stalls displaying their products. We bought a whole piece of roasted chicken at a steal, and even before our trek, we were so satisfied sitting by the park, prying open our succulent protein.
Tummies satisfied, we bade farewell to Monterosso and began our hike.
Mum was complaining to me the entire time because the terrain was nothing she’d expected. With stair climbing her only form of exercise, concrete is her comfort. Pity there is none of that in nature. For me, I couldn’t be happier being with nature!
Thankfully the weather was just right. The kind where it feels chilly if you stay in one spot, but since trekking consumed energy, that kept us warm throughout, even at high altitudes. It was mid May when we went, and I’d say it’s the perfect time to be there. The Italian weather in July is scorchingly hot, as experienced firsthand by friends there in that period.
The promise of beautiful views kept us going!
Even little kids and old couples were not deterred. Singaporeans, sometimes, are far too pampered.
The peek of what’s in store for us!
You’ll encounter all sorts of terrains. Rocks, pebbles, mud, bridges. Stairs, slopes, narrow paths. Fear not, though. There is nothing you cannot conquer. These are paths walked by hundreds daily. If I had more time, I would walk through the rest of the villages for sure.
Sidewalks of Vernazza.
The tourist crowd is crazy! That aside, I love the colours of the buildings- pastel and colourful in their unique ways, adorned with uniformed green windows.
Cinque Terre villages I recommend
If time is not on your side, I’d recommend visiting the villages of Manarola and Vernazza. They are 2 of the most charming villages. If trekking is not your cup of tea, there is always the train you can fall back on to get to these villages.
If you want to explore all 5 villages, my advice is to stay a night or 2 in Cinque Terre, instead of taking a day trip. There are many many paths to be explored. Never make your trip to Cinque Terre without good walking shoes, and breathable clothing!
14 May 2015, Thursday