Inch closer to the Cinque Terre today, climbing over a mountain, and passing through another one, on a day of spectacular coastal and mountain views between Bonassola and Monterosso.
Few walks start as easy as this one, and that’s thanks to Italian Engineers of the mid-18th century; rather than clamber over the hills between Bonassola and Levanto, this walk strolls through old railway tunnels (disused since 1971 when the train route was moved further inland), providing nearly 2 kilometres of flat, paved, easy hiking. The sound of the waves fades away, while the heavy trudge of your footsteps and the occasional drip of water echoes around the tunnel. Sometimes you explode out from a tunnel and are gifted a view of waves crashing on the rocks below, or to a sheltered and secluded bay.
Leave the tunnels behind to enter the idyllic village of Levanto, whose skyline is pierced by church spires and towers. The village is nestled in a valley and hugs the coastline tightly. From here the easy hiking finishes, and there’s no convenient tunnel for the hills that tower above, so if you want to shorten today’s walk you can take a train or ferry from here to Monterosso.
After a climb to Colla Bagari the path flattens out along a ridgeline and offers views out to sea and sweeping along the coastline on either side, allowing you to see where you’ve come from, and the scattered houses of Cinque Terre, where you’re heading over the next few days. Don’t be daunted by the distances you see, for the town of Monterosso, where you will spend the night, is all downhill from here!
Take the 300 metre detour to St Antonio al Mesco to see the 11th century church and hermitage, and a great viewpoint, looking out to where you’ve walked already and where is still remaining.
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic, unless there is a verge separated by line-markings that provides space to walk on.
Much of the path is rocky. Bear in mind these may be slippery when wet, place your feet with care, and use the handrail, where one is provided.
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Points of Interest
St Antonio al Mesco
The church and hermitage of St Antonio al Mesco on is thought to date to the 11th century, and has been abandoned since 1610, when the religious order moved to Levanto. Few ruins remain, but enough for you to imagine how it would have looked/felt to worship and live atop this isolated promontory, with a fantastic view stretching along the coastline.
Bonassola to Levanto Tunnels
The challenges in building this railway tunnel from Bonassola to Levanto (it actually starts further back in Framura) in the 18th century were immense; firstly, thousands of tonnes of rock had to be scooped out of the mountain, much of it done with manual labour due to limited supplies of explosives, and secondly, the route hugs the coast closely, passing several bays and cliffs. The last train thundered through the tunnel in 1971, when the route was moved inland, and now the flat trail is enjoyed by hikers and cyclists alike.
More information available here: http://www.nuovogarden.com/en/event/framura-bonassola-levanto-pista-ciclabile-2/
Currently Levanto Castle is privately owned and not open to visitors, but from its prominent position overlooking Levant Village, you can enjoy it from afar. With a history dating to the 12th century, over the years the castle has played an important role in defence and as a prison.
More information available here: http://www.liguriaguide.com/levanto.html
Food and Drink
After 2.2 kilometres you will reach Levanto which offers a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops for you to get some food or drink.
After leaving Levanto there is nowhere to get food or drink until reaching Monterosso, so be sure to carry enough supplies for the journey.