Overcast gave way to clear blue skies. With that change came greater heat but the humidity seemed far lower. We decided to do the easier walk which we felt would have better things to see and less climbing on steps. It turned out that the walk would have to be modified but I will get to that.
We hopped on the efficient though infrequent train for the short single stop run to Levanto where we picked up another train to go to Vernezza. This village was struck particularly hard during floods of 2011. We walked by a small stone chapel, looks more like a jail, that had been pretty much covered by mud and debris to its single-story roofline.
The defining feature of walks here is that they have to leave and enter the gorges the villages sit in. We climbed up steep roads that would quickly take us to the Cinque Terre coastal path. Rough cut steps took us up and up. Given we would ascend almost 200 meters that is a lot of steps. The path, when not climbing, is stone. I suppose it is a bit more than 4 feet wide and a wooden fence runs along the cliffside edge. That fence probably would not stop you from falling through but it should provide some comfort as a solid edge marker. Still I suspect if you are prone to worrying about heights this path could be a challenge. Views of the craggy coastline are quite good.
Up we went. The steps continued. The sweat poured off my body. It was certainly getting warmer as we mounted the uneven steps. Sometimes we passed through forests of trees of unknown types. Sometimes we passed people coming the other way or have people catch up to us. The views were becoming less frequent. The uneven steps with uncertain landings and varying widths seemed to becoming more frequent. Even for sighted people with depth perception I am sure they become tiresome. More than that for me. Down we went. More people came up from the village below. This path must be thronged during peak season. In time sounds of music drifted to us. I figured it was someone’s radio or stereo playing. Near the end of the path, certainly within 5 minutes of the paved road (which is still a few hundred meters downhill to the village), we found the musicians playing an accordian and something jingly. I recognized what they were playing at the time though I could not name it. At this point I can’t summon a melody to mind though I know if I hear it again I will have an “a ha” moment. Hard working buskers. I hope many others besides Dad gave them money.
It took just over 2 hours to walk between the two villages. The defining feature of the walk has to be the steps. The village of Corniglia feels much smaller than any of the others we have seen. Perhaps this is because unlike the other village Corniglia sits about 120 meters above sea-level. That must have impacted things. We strolled to a viewpoint, had gelato, and generally just sat for a time. While the village may be small it is still a busy. The coastal path to Monarolla unfortunately is closed due to landslides having made it impassable. I do not know when they happened but it seems to me this is something the village would want cleared up because it is quite clear this coastal path is a key feature of the tourism that drives these tiny villages.
As we were about to tramp down to the train station the people doing the tougher walk showed up. They had come from somewhere else. Must have been an inland somewhere else. They took the coastal path to Vernezza. We walked down to the train station. Guess what: we had to descend steps. Proper regular steps that were even decently marked so they were not a real chore for me. We still had several hundred steps to travel down as we descended about 75 meters to the train station.
For the next 3 hours we checked out the even busier villages of Monarola and Riomaggiore. The latter was busier and I think less enjoyable. Neither is a place I would really choose to visit for their own sake. We found a nice viewpoint after sitting just above the clear waters of the Ligore sea. It may be cool but clearly not chilly as people were swimming. Probably felt good given the temperature in the sun was easily in the high 70s and I think likley 80.
We watched masses of people, including huge groups including our first large Asian groups, move on by. We were glad to board the 16:30 train that took us back to our hotel. It lacks the shops and eateries of the fiveCinque Terre towns but not having all the people is a plus.
Stats: A clear and much warmer day today. The official walk between Vernezza and Corniglia was 3.9km. We climbed up about 181 meters and descended 124 meters. We walked through the villages and so no doubt extended all those numbers quite a bit. After all, we walked down to each harbor and up to some viewpoints so I’d not be surprised if we tacked on 2 to 2.5 miles. But I think we could have happily skipped Riomaggiore. Walking time was 2 hours and we took 30 minutes of breaks.
- Leaving Vernazza. Steps.
- We have arrived on Corniglia. Looking back you can see the cafe we pause at before starting our descent of countless rough-hewn steps.
- At the sea in Monarola