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The Cinque Terre hike

The Cinque Terre hike along the celebrated coastal trail proved more strenuous than expected. But the views were spectacular and slightly daunting, if you are afraid of heights.

I’m not a habitual hiker, but having heard of 70-year-olds who covered the entire distance in the Cinque Terre hike from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore in a day, I though it couldn’t be that hard. After all it’s only 9 km and I pretend to be relatively fit. As it turned out, I was in for a challenge.

Cinque-terra-hike-4-600x163 The Cinque Terre hike

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The easy bit
We stated out from the train station in Monterosso on a fine November morning. Even out of season with a precarious weather forecast, the station was packed with people of all nationalities and all ages in smaller or larger groups. And they had all come for the stunning landscape and the hikes.

We went straight past the tempting cafés and beach chairs in Monterosso and strolled along the beach, where some people were sun bathing in bikinis and shorts. In the Western distance mountains rose and dropped sharply to the sea forming a jagged line of great scenic beauty. We passed a few hotels and restaurants and watch tower, and a stairs decorated with personalized bricks in support of Cinque Terre after the 2011 flooding. It looked like a nice Sunday outing.

Cinque-terra-hike-2-600x250 The Cinque Terre hike

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Up up and around
But after about half an hour the paved walkway ended in a rough trail and a manned checkpoint pointed out that these paths were largely unprotected mountain trails and visitors must were suitable clothes and shoes. From then on the trail winded itself up and around over brooks and mountains. Sometimes there was just a narrow passage between the hill and a steep drop into the Mediterranean. And given the high flow of visitors walking in both directions it could be hard to get by. Still, the sight of the shimmering sea, the green hills and the terraced vineyards and olive groves was outstanding. And catching the first glimpse of the candy-coloured Vernazza that cluttered a cove far below released a nice stream of endophines. With views like that hiking the Cinque Terre trail comes close to happiness.

Cinque-terra-hike-3-600x250 The Cinque Terre hike

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Warnings and closed trails
We reached Vernazza 3 km from Monterosso in about 2,5 hours. This is supposed to be the most challenging part of the trail, so after a quick sandwich we started to move on towards Coniglia. But after a steep climb, the checkpoint on this 4 km stretch was closed and there was a sign with a bad weather warning. This along with a rather ominous looking black sky on top of the mountain made us turn around and take the train to Manarola, as we had heard the lower trail from Coniglia to Manarola was closed.

In Manarola we had hoped to be able to walk the last 20 minutes of the itinerary along the famous Via dell’Amore, but it turned out to be closed and locked as well. So at the end of the day, the Cinque Terre hike turned out to require less exercise than expected, although I had had my doubts about completing the trail, when I stood panting on a precipice surrounded on all sides by nothing but sky, sea and hills.

Cinque-terra-hike-600x250 The Cinque Terre hike

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23 replies
  1. Mike
    Mike says:

    This soooo reminded me of reaching the peak of Mt Rose (outside of Reno, above Lake Tahoe) at 10,700 feet. You start at 8,900 feet. But the view on a clear day goes for hundreds of miles. The part you wrote about the high volume of hikers going in each direction reminded me of the documentaries I’ve seen on the Everest quests. I clicked on your pictures, they are absolutely amazing, Mette! What a view indeed! :)

    Reply
    • admin
      admin says:

      I wouldn’t quite compare it to Everest – the climate and the landscape is far too docile for that, but then again, I’ve never been to Nepal.

      Reply
  2. Leigh
    Leigh says:

    Needless to say I would so love to do this trail but it would be a huge disappointment if it was closed. Thunderstorms or bad weather can definitely be a little off-putting.

    Reply
    • admin
      admin says:

      Hard to choose the perfect timing. In the summer it’s hot and there is probably a lot of people around. In October it may rain and there’s probably a lot of people around. And in September there’s definitely a lot of people around. So you have to decide which is the lesser evil.

      Reply
  3. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    Mary {The World Is A Book} says:

    Sorry you didn’t get to do the entire trail but it’s a great reason to go back. I have always wanted to visit this part of Italy and hope to go on this hike. I can just imagine the gorgeous views you saw in this picturesque area.

    Reply
  4. Turkey's For Life
    Turkey's For Life says:

    Ohh, this sounds like the sort of hike we would love – short but strenuous. And there’s no point doing a hike if you don’t get fabulous views as far as were concerned. No danger of lack of views on this trail it looks like.
    Julia

    Reply
  5. Nita
    Nita says:

    I’ve been to Italy twice and still haven’t made it there. Will definitely go the next time. It seems a bit tough as I’m not much of a hiker either but I’m willing to give it a shot.. Looks fun! Even though you didn’t complete it, seems like you still got to see those amazing views! Beautiful :)

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The Cinque Terra hike along the celebrated coastal trail proved more strenuous than expected. But the views were spectacular and slightly daunting.I’m not a habitual hiker, but having heard of 70-year-olds who covered the entire distance in the Cinque Terra hike from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore in a day, I though it couldn’t be that hard. After all it’s only 9 km and I pretend to be relatively fit. As it turned out, I was in for a challenge. […]  […]

  2. […] The Cinque Terra hike along the celebrated coastal trail proved more strenuous than expected. But the views were spectacular and slightly daunting.I’m not a habitual hiker, but having heard of 70-year-olds who covered the entire distance in the Cinque Terra hike from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore in a day, I though it couldn’t be that hard. After all it’s only 9 km and I pretend to be relatively fit. As it turned out, I was in for a challenge. […]  […]

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