Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hiking in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore to Portovenere

Our first full day in Cinque Terre, we start with one of our favorite hikes, heading south from Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five towns in Cinque Terre, to Portovenere, about 25 km (15.5 miles) away, 25 minutes by car and 4-5 hours by hiking trail along the coast.

It's a beautiful morning in Monterosso and we walk past the beach, full of umbrellas ready to greet people as they trickle in, to the train station, where we catch the local train from Monterosso to Riomaggiore (4 stops, one at each town in Cinque Terre, 14 minutes).

 Monterosso beach and train station in the morning

Once we arrive in Riomaggiore, the theme is up:  up 340 meters (1115 feet) to the top of the ridge and over to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero, from which we can look down on the city.  The Santuario has been a place of worship since the 8th century and is located in an incredible spot overlooking the city and the sea.

 Up we go

Views of the hills and Riomaggiore in the distance

At the Santuario, we stop to admire the view and then continue along the ridge, with more great views of the Mediterranean.  The hike is challenging, but quiet, peaceful, serene, and rewarding.  This is what vacation is about!

 Riomaggiore to the north, Mediterranean coast to the south

Along the ridge, we pass through forest, fields, and vineyards, popping in and out of more great views of the sea.

 Continuing along the ridge

We start up again, emerging at the top, about 500 meters (1640 feet) above the sea and continue along the path to Campiglia, just past the half-way point to Portovenere.

 Passing through Campiglia

After Campiglia, the trail passes through the forest for a while, then challenges us with some rocky sections that require careful attention.  We still take time to admire the views!

 Rocky sections, still great views

As we start our descent into Portovenere, we get glimpses of the city and of the castle on the point.

 Portovenere in the distance, rocky path down

Once we arrive, we claim our reward:  lunch on the waterfront in Portovenere.  We share octopus and potato salad, proscuitto and melon, Mama Mia (sausage) pizza, and a carafe of local sparkling white wine.

Lunch on the waterfront in Portovenere

After lunch, we take a leisurely cruise back on the ferry from Portovenere to Monterosso, travelling in reverse up the coast we just hiked (wow, wow, wow, we were there by foot on the top!), with stops in the Cinque Terre towns along the way.

 View from the ferry of the path we hiked (along the top of the ridge)

 Stopping in Cinque Terre towns along the way

Back in Monterosso, we pick up a bottle of wine for later, borrow some beach towels from Hotel Villa Steno, then head on over to the  beach for a relaxing swim in the Mediterranean before dinner.

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