18 June, 2015
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. They will tell you “no”, they will say “impossible!” But it IS possible, it CAN be achieved. And with a little planning and time management, you too could hit up all five of the Cinque Terre.
First order of business: hit up that early train. Yep! If you are like me and coming from inland Italy, it may take a few hours to get to the Cinque Terre, so make sure that you get yourself there ASAP to make the most of the gorgeous stretch of coast and still have time to make the last train back. I got up at a ridiculous and dark hour, rushed across town to get to the station, and jumped on a train, waking up several hours later in the beautifully sunny Monterosso.
And let me tell you, being greeted and welcomed by this is pretty worth the crazy-early waking hours and long train ride:
For those that don’t know, I’ll give you a quick run-down of Cinque Terre! Imagine five of the most gorgeous and colourful and bright villages ever, all in a row along the stunning northern east coast of Liguria, Italy. The villages are, in order: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The surrounding National Park, which encapsulates the villages themselves, is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – as if we needed any other reasons to visit, apart from SHEER BEAUTY.
Before going on my trip, I was informed by several well-meaning individuals that I wouldn’t be able to visit all the towns within one day. Although, having achieved the impossible and hit up all five win less than a day, I can now safely say that I have proven the theory incorrect. Of course, one day isn’t enough to be able to completely immerse yourself in each destination and intimately explore all areas of the beautiful stretch of coastline, but if you are on a restricted schedule, know that by carefully planning a combination of hiking and trains, you can tick them all off.
Hiking? you ask. Trains? Pray tell!
The Cinque Terre are all connected by numerous trails which intertwine across the mountain side. There is a train line running along the coastline as well, but the treks are definitely worth the exertion! When I visited, many of the tracks were still closed after heavy rainfall several years prior, and seeing that I wanted to see all the towns in one day, I half-hiked half-trained the line of towns.
First up was a trek from Monterosso to Vernazza, and check out these amazing photos:
Although, that being said, the walk was at times worrying, principally due to the constant reminders of emergency phone numbers and signs which constantly warned me that my life was in danger. Case in point:
When I arrived in Vernazza, hot and sweaty (and let’s face it, I was feeling preeeeeeetty gross at this point), I nearly ran down the mountainside in my sheer excitement to get near the water and explore the picturesque town. I mean, look at the photos, people. Look at those photos!
Despite the sweatiness, the hike was totally manageable and totally worthwhile. Given the opportunity once more, I would definitely pass up the easier train option for this coastal trek. Not only are the views stunning, but the sense of achievement at the end is exhilarating. Following the trail also means that there are plenty of opportunities to come into contact with other travellers and to meet some awesome people – but that is a story for another blog post!
For now, feast your eyes on my post-hike reward, and try not to be too jealous of my pizza by the sea!