Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bonassola and Cinque Terre Day 1 - Walk 1 Bonassola to Monterossa

The festival of Roserio which I think is both a regligious festival and a commemoration of a battle fought in 1571 peeked with the fireworks display I have already written about. Live music blasted for another hour or so. I did not get a good long night of sleep. I got enough I suppose. We decided to tackle the longer walk that would take us from our hotel here in Bonassola to Monterossa via Levanto. The Cinque Terre,Five Lands, are towns that nestle in valleys of various sizes along the coast. Centuries ago they were trading ports and some were quite well enough indeed. Today the support of thriving tourist industry is crucial for their economies. Bonassola while nearby is not part of the five lands though it too has thrived though today its permanent population is perhaps 500 or so people (swells to over 5,000 during high tourist season).  

If you don’t use a boat to get from village to village you have to climb up and to go from place to place. The mountains rise 12-1500 feet. Romans used the paths we would follow thousands of years ago. I hope they made their steps a bit more even.

We left under mostly sunny skies at 09:50. Our group had 9 people including our leader Sandra. We walked along the streets of Bonassola before turning uphill on narrow roads. Those became more alleyways before changing to paths of dirt and stone-hewn steps. We began to seriously ascend out of the valley.  The views were actually not that good as it was hazy. In time we finished the climb and were on the ridge that separates Bonassola and Levanto. Time to drop back down. Steps and sometimes stony ground that couldn’t decide which way to lean. SLow going for me though your average hiker won’t find the descent really that challenging though even they will curse the uneven heights of the rough steps.  We clearly were not in a hurry as we walked down to the beachfront of Levanto.  We had made a minor mistake early on and taken a break or two along the way so it was 11:20 and we had only gone about 3km beofre taking a coffee break. 

We would soon leave the much busier village and begin our second and far lengthier climb. Levanto sits in a deeper and larger valley than many of the villages I think. We began our climb up the narrow dirt path, including rough steps, and now and then views would open up showing us where we had come from. A bit hazy and hardly eye-popping but you get a sense of the terrain.We continued on up. Sweat poured off some of us as the humidity seemed to rise with the heat even as clouds filled the sky. Occassional showers of rain caused us to put rain-gear on and remove it minutes later. We continued up and slightly inland heading southeasterly towards Col Bagari. 

We found a spot with a not-half-bad view back towards Levanto for lunch. The view was better than lunch itself. Maybe Mom and Dad’s pizza-like slice were alright but my bread with onions was nothing special. Mere fuel.

We continued working our way around the mountains, tending to ascend, as the light showers resumed and then faded away. In time we reached the highpoint of the walk atCol  Bagari.  We stood at about 360 meters above sea-level and figured we had about 4km to go to reach Monterossa  which is at sea-level. The trail started to gently descend on generally good tread with some stones. As the clouds burned away and the fly population seemed to increase the trail became more sandy. We were following trail 581 which is frequently blazed. Our path was taking us out to the top of a headland and now and then we could see water on both sides. To our west, starting into the sun, you couldn’t see much but looking the other way the water was a brilliant blue sitting in the cove where no doubt Monterosso  is located. 

We passed the ruins of an ancient abbey and then the descent, for me, slowed down. The gentle sandy trail changed to one full of rough hewn stone steps. Steps of different heights, different widths, with uncertain ground below each step. It took 32 minutes to go down all those steps. I understand Mom was only waiting for about 5 minutes (seems hard to believe). We joined a paved road that continued to wind down the mountain past homes built into the side of the mountain. In about 20 minutes we reached the train station in what is clearly a very busy tourist town.  Our walk was done. We were happy with our first walk. It had a variety of views and terrain. 

Stats: 11.2km walk.  Ascent and descent were 536 meters. We took a lot of breaks on this walk: 93 minutes. we walked for 4 hours 54 minutes. Weather was overcast with occassional  showers during the early afternoon that gave way to sunshine later on. It was humid with a high temperature that probably touched 75F.

Levanto and Dad


Steps abound

looking back on Lavanto

view at lunch

view of Monterossa and Mom


  1. Heading down into Levanto. 
  2. It looks like Levanto has a nice beach which I suspect we will return to later in the week.
  3. Leaving Levanto we first had to climb its streets. Of course, that means steps. When the steps in town were left behind we would climb rough-hewn stone steps on dirt paths that would climb out of the valley.
  4. We have quite a bit of climbing to still do but you can how a town is squeezed in between valleys.
  5. Looking back from our lunch break. Not far from the walk’s high point at Col Bagari.
  6. We have been descending for a while now and it is about to get nasty as we leave the ruins of an old monetary. This is actually one of the last really good views as the descent is surrounded by trees.

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