The footpath winds its way between Manarola and Corniglia as if its sole objective is to showcase the beauty of the Cinque Terre region. Traverse terraces of vineyards enjoying an endless array of viewpoints.
The footpath seems reluctant to leave the beautiful village of Manarola; every time you think you have seen the last of those colourful houses stacked up the mountain, the path throws in a sweeping bend to give you another glimpse, from a slightly different but equally photogenic viewpoint. The rest of the hike continues in a similar vein, as if the footpath’s sole purpose is to showcase the best of Cinque Terre.
The five mesmerising villages of Cinque Terre aside, the other thing the region is famous for is wine. There are some 7,000 kilometres of dry-stone wall here – equal to the length of the Great Wall of China! – to fortify the terraces on which the grapes grow. As the path walks across these terraces, climbing up and dropping down to different levels like a giant game of snakes and ladders, you might begin to appreciate the effort it took to sculpt these terraces. And that is to understand the most amazing things about Cinque Terre; the way locals have sculpted this inhospitable landscape of steep mountains and waves crashing into a rocky coastline - where really no-one ought to be living - and turned it into a paradise, where fruit grows, trains whiz through mountains, houses tower around marinas, and people come from around the world to visit.
The train station in Corniglia is separate from the rest of the village and requires a downhill on a long set of steps to reach, so don’t go down until you are ready to leave!
Having walked through the vineyards, it would be rude not to try some of the wine, don’t you think?! Fortunately, there’s many places happy to serve you a glass (or bottle)!
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.
The path is narrow in places - sometimes too narrow for two people to pass each other even – and has exposed edges to the side, so it takes cooperation and patience to enjoy this walk safely.
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
Manarola and Corniglia
There are few ‘points of interest’ that standout drastically in either village, but that is because the village is a point of interest in its entirety. With each Cinque Terre village you should aim to visit the marina (Corniglia excepted), get lost in the narrow streets and stairways, grab a seat in the piazza, admire the derelict stone guardtowers that fended off raids in bygone years, hear the dull chime of the church bells, and find a variety of viewpoints overlooking the cascading colourful houses.
Food and Drink
After 2 kilometres you will reach Volastra, which has a small grocery store where you can buy drinks, snacks and order sandwiches and paninis.
Corniglia has lots of places to grab some food, and specialises in Foccacia.