Friday, October 2, 2015

Cinque Terre Hike 2: Monterosso to Levanto

For our second hike, we decide to go up the coast from Monterosso to Levanto.  We could take the direct route, walking through to Monterosso, climbing up from the new town, and heading straight across the ridge along the sea, about a 3 hour journey.  But, we decide to add a side trip back into the hills, climbing from Monterosso to another Sanctuary, the Santuario Nostra Signora di Soviore, then following the ridge around Monterosso and joining the path along the sea to Levanto, about 4-1/4 hours.  This takes us on Path Number 1 all the way from Soviore to Levanto (after we compete the up part from Monterosso to Soviore on Path Number 9).

Soviore is at 464 meters (1522 feet) and up we go.  Basically straight up until we get there.

The bell tower at Santuario Nostra Signora di Soviore

At Saviore, we have a great view down on Monterosso, but we have trouble finding Path Number 1.  The sign seems to point to the road, but we don’t see any markers on the road. 

View of Monterosso from Soviore - we follow the ridge around Monterosso to the far point

 Where is that trail?

We wander into the building, admit to being lost, and they tell us to follow the road to Colle di Gritta and then to ask someone there.  We head down the road to Colle di Gritta and see that it is a major intersection, with a small restaurant and hotel.

Intersection at Colle di Gritta

As at Soviore, we see a sign for Trail Number 1, but can’t find it.  We ask at the hotel and they tell us that the path leads up from the back of their parking lot.  The person at Saviore was right, we would not have found the trail on our own.

We head back up and along the ridge circling around Monterosso for different views of the city on the left.  On the right side, we see Levanto, seemingly close, but several hours away on the trail we are taking.

 The trail winds along the ridge around Monterosso

View of Monterosso, looking left from the trail

 View of Levanto, looking right from the trail

The trail goes up and down across the ridge around Monterosso and eventually leads to the point where we meet the trail up from Monterosso’s new town and our first traffic jam.  We have only seen one other hiker (and his dog) on the trail so far, but the route from Levanto to Monterosso (followed by lunch in Monterosso, then a train ride back) is popular and we meet many French, German, and British groups hiking together along the trail.

 Hikers congregate at the intersection, Monterosso below and Vernazza in the distance

 Trail signs at the intersection
The views of the coast north of Monterosso are just as spectacular as those we saw heading south to Porto Venere.

Looking up the coast, Levanto around the corner

As we descend, Levanto comes into view.  Levanto is much larger than any of the five towns in Cinque Terre and often serves as a base for people exploring the region.  The train from Levanto reaches Monterosso in 4 minutes for 1.4 euros ($1.56) and Riomaggiore at the far end of Cinque Terre in 13 to 20 minutes for 1.8 euros ($2.01), depending on how many other villages it stops in.

 Levanto comes into view

The trail comes down into Levanto at the beach and, as in Porto Venere, we spot the sign of where we can go from here.   

 The trail descends into Levanto at the beach

 Where we can go from here

But, we are here, and we head over to Café Roma for lunch, caprese salad, focaccia with spicy salami and olives, pizza with anchovies and capers, and, of course, a liter of local white wine.

Then, it’s back to Monterosso on the train and another swim in the sea.

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