Leave Riomaggoire behind as you continue along the coastline passing through a variety of landscapes and finishing at the end of the peninsular in Portovenere (sometimes considered Cinque Terre’s sixth village).
Riomaggiore is the final in the chain of Cinque Terre’s five villages, so when you set off on today’s hike you leave the wonderful Cinque Terre behind. Except for the absence of tourists and the calmness that befalls the trails, don’t expect to notice anything different; the mountains and scenery remain every bit as dramatic as anywhere else along this coastline!
There’s a steep climb out of Riomaggiore, but once you’ve gained your height you can begin to reap the rewards. A narrow mud track, bordered and overgrown by a riot of colourful wildflowers, winds its way between terraced vineyards which cascade down the steep mountain slopes. With a huge sky above you, and the sea reaching out to the horizon, there’ll be a spring in your step as you walk on top of the world.
As you burst from a peaceful section of woodland, the walk reaches its climax with a spectacle of jagged cliffs and mountains tumbling to the sea, with two islands just beyond the reach of the mainland. Unlike any of the Cinque Terre villages, Portovenere isn’t connected by train and therefore maintains an element of remoteness that rewards the intrepid visitor who makes the journey there. It is a fitting place to finish today’s walk and spend the night.
There is lots to see in Portovenere – I’ve mentioned three places in the ‘points of view’ section deserving of a visit!
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
San Pietro Church
The striking location of this church is most obvious by boat, where it can be seen clinging to the rocky coastline like a limpet, its’ bricks seemingly welded to the crag on which it sits. This church was built in 1256 replacing a Roman Temple to the goddess of Venus – after which the town was named, Portus Veneris.
More information available here: http://www.liguriaguide.com/san-pietro-church-portovenere.html
Like the abbey and tower we passed in San Fruttuoso, the castle which overlooks Portovenere belonged to the wealthy and influential Doria family, who built it in the 12th century to defend the region. It is the oldest fortification remaining in the Cinque Terre region.
More information available here: http://www.castellodiportovenere.it/
Portovenere was built as a defensive town, and the colourful waterfront houses (The Palazzata) which today seem jolly and welcoming, were designed to be an impenetrable wall. Notice how they are very tall and have no balconies with which to assist invaders wanting to climb up. Only a few steep sets of steps, easy to defend, allow access through to the streets behind.
Food and Drink
Riomaggiore has the largest collection of restaurants, cafes and grocery shops. There are several pleasant spots for a picnic throughout the walk, so one option is to come prepared with food and drink for a picnic. Riomaggiore specialises in takeaway cones of fried, local seafood.
There is a bar/restaurant at the Telegrafo Col after 5 kilometres, and a café after 6 kilometres.
Portovenere has a wide assortment of cafes and restaurants which are mostly situated along the waterfront, thus ensuring a relaxing dining/drinking experience.
There are taps to refill your water bottles in Riomaggiore, and then again after 6 and 8 kilometres.