For our first hike in the Cinque Terre, we decided to take a train to the furthest of the 5 towns (Monterosso) and hike along the coastal part to Vernazza. First we had breakfast down by the water in Manarola then easily caught a train. Of the 5 towns, Monterosso has the largest actual beach area, which looked nice and relaxing. There were places to rent kayaks, stand up Paddleboards, and more. I think if we has more time, I would have enjoyed spending a day there, but we had come to hike. I’m not she’s what I was expecting hiking in the Cinque Terre to be like, but I certainly didn’t imagine that it would be strenuous. The hike took a little over 2 hours to get from Monterosso to Vernazza and involves a lot of up and down steps and steep inclines. Definitely not suitable for older or out of shape people.
Near the beginning of our hike, we met an Australian guy named Isaac who hung out with us during the hike. He was pretty entertaining and provided us with some comic relief during the hike. He told us all about the 16 weeks of travel which he was in the middle of. We took lots of pictures because every turn there was more and more beautiful views of the sea, the cliffs, and the grape trees. Although we stopped for plenty of pictures, we were moving along at a good speed so it didn’t take too long to reach Vernazza. In Vernazza, Isaac joined us for lunch at an outdoor cafe by the water. I had really good pesto pizza with water. I was really disappointed that they did not have any sort of yummy fruit drink, after all that hiking.
We found the train station and after watching one train race past us which was supposed to stop, I asked the station staff when the next train would stop. Since it wasn’t for another 50 minutes, we all got some gelato. Then, we looked into the inside of an old church right by the water. Finally our train came and we took it to Riomaggiore, although Isaac continued on to La Spezia, where he was staying.
We easily saw most of Riomaggiore in about half an hour. The small size of each of the towns made them super easy to explore. Between Riomaggiore and Manarola is the most famous I’d the Cinque Terre paths. “lovers lane” is a completely paved path that cuts into the rocks of the cliffs. For the entire walk, there are thousands of love locks scattered on the fences and anywhere else where there was space. Several of the cactus and aloe verde plants were also inscribed with “someone loves someone else”. There’s a small tunnel with bricks that are full of graffiti put there by sharpie markers and spray paint. Lovers lane was a cute, pretty, and short hike – but nothing compared to the coastal trail we had done earlier.
When we got back, we had bruschetta, pesto pasta, and wine on our terrace which was high up in the hill in Manarola with a beautiful view of the town, the sea, and the vineyards.