Friday, October 9, 2015

Cinque Terre Hike 4: Corniglia to Manarola to Riomaggiore

For the last stretch of the Levanto to Porto Venere route, we must conquer Corniglia to Manarola to Riomaggiore.  Path Number 2 along the coast is still closed for this route from the mudslides of 2012, so we need to go back up into the hills and then down, with much better views from the top, but a more strenuous walk.

We catch the train from Monterosso to Corniglia and start by walking up the [reported] 382 steps from the train station.  At the top of the steps, Path Number 7 leads directly up to Path 6D, which takes us up to Volastra and then down into Manarola.  As we head up, we get a great view back toward Corniglia.

This is a serious "up" stretch

Looking back at Corniglia

As we round the corner from Corniglia, we pass through many vineyards, with people out harvesting the grapes.

Vineyards on the hill, with Corniglia down below and Monterosso in the distance

More vineyards on the way to Volastra

As we pass Volastra, Manarola starts to appear in the distance.

Manarola far away

Manarola getting closer

Descending, the the town starts to take shape and character.  As we get close to town, we can see the mudslides covering Path Number 2 along the coast.

Descending into Manarola

Looking back toward Corniglia, several mudslides cover Path Number 2 along the coast

Once the path leads us into Manarola, we look for the next path to Riomaggiore.  As the Via dell'Amore, the beautiful, paved, 1 kilometer "tourist" path along the coast, is closed, we seek the old farmer's path between the towns, Le Beccara, Path Number 531.

The only part of Via dell'Amore currently open

Path, path, where's the path to Riomaggiore

It's not obvious where to begin.  Eventually, we walk down to the train station and ask at the tourist office, where they tell us to go back up through town, past the church, and look on the right.  Aha, we find it.  Basically, straight up and, as we find later, straight down into Riomaggiore.

 Straight up to the top

 View of vineyards as we head up, Monterosso in the far distance

Another view of the vineyards with Volastra on top of the hill

 Then, the descent into Riomaggiore is straight down

All we have to do is go straight down this hill into Riomaggiore

As we start the descent, we meet a couple from Missouri.  They've just started and plan to walk to Monterosso and spend the night.  We tell them it's about a 6 hour walk from here and they smile and keep on going up with their heavy packs.  That evening, as we head from Villa Steno down the street into Monterosso's old town for dinner, we spot them coming up the street. They said that they made it all the way to Vernazza (passing through Corniglia, and Manarola), then gave up and took the train to Monterosso.  They looked tired and we congratulated them and tried to show that we understood what they had just done!  Wow!

We descend into Riomaggiore and take the walkway under the tracks to the harbor.  There, at the end, looking down on the small harbor and the ferry stop, is a great bar where we have a celebratory prosecco.

 View from the bar, Monterosso in the distance 
(The Missouri couple planned to walk all the way there today)

View of the ferry stop, looking down from the bar

Celebration complete and heading back to the train station, we find ourselves behind an unhappy American tourist.  He is muttering , "I wish I had a gun, I would shoot myself.  Why the hell am I here".  We think someone else picked this vacation for him and we don't stop to explain to him that this is the best place to be.  If he can't figure that out, then there's more of it for the rest of us.  More great hiking, dining, exploring, shopping, meeting old friends, making new friends, ...).

We buy our train tickets and hop on the next train heading north to Monterosso.  We have completed the full path from Levanto to Porto Venere in sections.  Maybe someday we'll take 12 hours and just do it.  But, taking the time to stop along the way has great benefits!

 Train tickets - either 5km (between 2 cities) or 10km for Riomaggiore to Monterosso

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