Friday, September 30, 2016

Hiking in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore to Portovenere

One of our favorite hikes is in the southern part of Cinque Terre, hiking up and out of Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five towns, and heading south along the ridge to Portovenere, just outside La Spezia, the second largest city in Liguria (Genoa is first).  To start, we catch the train from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore (10 minutes with a nonstop, 15-20 minutes if the train stops in all five towns) and walk through the tunnel and up the hill from the train station.  The distance between Riomaggiore and Portovenere over Path Number 1 is roughly 13.5 km (8.4 miles), with an elevation change a little over 500 meters (1640 feet) up and down.  The time estimates for the hike range from 5 hours to 6.25 hours, but we generally do it in about 4.

 Sun rising at the Monterosso train station

 Mural outside the Rimoaggiore station

 Tilework in the tunnel from the Riomaggiore train station to town

Walking up through Riomaggiore

Trying not to wake the sleeping cat

 We quickly reach the trail up from Riomaggiore

The trail basically heads up the hill, with Riomaggiore further and further in the distance (and further and further below us) as we ascend towards the Santuario della Nostra Signora di Montenero (Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero) overlooking Riomaggiore.  The Santuario has been a place of worship since the 8th century, with the current structure originally built in the 14th century, then seriously restored (and revised) in the 18th and 19th centuries.  We are now 341 meters (1120 feet) above our start in Riomaggiore.

Ascending above Riomaggiore

 Santuario della Madonna di Montenero

View of Riomaggiore from the Santuario

View in the other direction, toward Portovenere

We depart the Santuario on the other side from Riomaggiore and hike along the ridge, through fields, vineyards, and the occasional yard.  This part of hike is fairly level and we make good time along the way.

 Hiking along the ridge

At one point, we pass a small private event space, a long walk up, but a great place for a group to spend the night and continue on in the morning.  Last year, we had to wait for a long trail of backpackers who were leaving this space in the morning and heading down.

 For your private event, concert, lunch, campout, ....

However, as we approach the halfway point, there is some serious up to do.  At the top of the final climb, we enter a park and there is a small restaurant, for those needing of refreshment.  But, we're on a mission:  we take another swig of water and continue on.

 Up to the halfway point.

To be continued.

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