Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monterosso to Levanto

The route from Monterosso al Mare to Levanto, the town just north of Cinque Terre and often considered a gateway to the region, is spectacular.  The straight path  between the two cities is about a three hour walk, but we prefer to take a more scenic (and challenging) route that first circles Monterosso, starting off in the opposite direction and climbing up to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Soviore, a sanctuary and shrine dating from the 13th century.  We are in luck and the organist is practicing in the chapel as we go by.

Heading up to Soviore

 Organist practicing in the chapel at Soviore

From Soviore, we follow the road over to Colle di Gritta, where we pick up the trail on the top of the ridge around Monterosso.  The sign at the beginning of the trails warns that on Wednesday and Sunday, October through January, the trail is closed due to the hunting of wild boars starting at 7:30 am.  We now understand why we occasionally see shotgun shells along the trail, although we've never seen a boar here.  We're outside the hunting season and should be safe today.

 Colle di Gritta, important warning

As we trek along the ridge, we have views of Monterosso on the left and Levanto (in the distance) on the right.  Straight across the valley, we can see Soviore, from where we just came, it sure looks a long way away!

 Trail along the ridge

 Monterosso on the left, Levanto on the right

On the far ridge, Soviore, from where we just hiked

We complete our circle around Monterosso, meet the path coming up from town, and start along the Mediterranean toward Levanto.  The path winds along the ridge, then down into several valleys and back up again, with teasing glimpses of our destination.

 Continuing along the Mediterranean

 Approaching Levanto

As we descend into Levanto, we see that it's a good beach day, with a stiff breeze keeping the flags flying.  It's interesting to note the flags at the municipal beach/pool:  China, France, US, UK, Italy.

 Levanto Beach and flags

 Beachside villas

 Levanto town square

We finish up our hike and it's time for lunch.  We settle into a cafe on the edge of the square and share a Pizza Cinque Terre (anchovies), focaccia with ham and cheese, and, of course, a small carafe of local wine.

Focaccia, pizza, wine

After lunch, it's a leisurely stroll through town to the train station and a quick (5 minute) train ride through the tunnel back to Monterosso.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hiking Monterosso to Vernazza, Continuing on to Corniglia (Cinque Terre)

One of the best and most popular hikes from Monterosso is along the National Park trail to Vernazza, about an hour to an hour and a half, then continuing on to Corniglia, roughly the same distance and time.  This trail tends to get busy in both directions and we like to start early in the morning, before the crowd.

We're in for a real treat.  The wooden walkway at the start of the trail is damaged and the beginning of the trail has been rerouted over the original path that starts up the hill from behind city hall.  This path is steep and rocky, but rewards us with great views of Monterosso as we head up.

Start up the old trail

Trail goes up

 Monterosso grows smaller

The trail winds south along the top of the ridge, with great views of the sea.

 Along the trail

After a while, Vernazza starts to appear in the distance.

 Approaching Vernazza

We descend into the city and then back up the other side, continuing on to Corniglia.  Soon, Vernazza is also disappearing into the distance, with Monterosso still visible (but much smaller).

 Into Vernazza, then back up

 Leaving Vernazza, Monterosso in the distance

Continuing up and through olive groves

Half-way to Corniglia, some entrepreneur has built a small bar/restaurant on/over the trail and there is a steady business of hikers stopping to fortify themselves.  We don't stop, but many do.

 Trail continues by/through refreshments

Soon, we start to see Corniglia approaching in the distance.

 Approaching Corniglia

Corniglia is on the top of a hill, with 365 steps down to the train station, and is the only Cinque Terre town without a ferry stop.  It does, however, have a wine tractor parked near the edge of town and I hop on to drive (stationary).  These tractors travel up and down the hills over a single rail, carrying farmers and grapes to and from the vineyards.  It's amazing to watch them move along as we walk through the vineyards, truly well-suited for their task and incredibly helpful to make these great wines.

 David driving the stationary wine tractor

 Train station below, 365 steps down

We take the train back to Monterosso and reward ourselves with lunch:  a carafe of local wine, bruschetta (with anchovies, tomato, mozzarella, and capers) and a bruschetta platter (ham/mozzarella, pesto, anchovy, tomato/garlic, tomato/rocket).


And, fortified, we're off for another swim.