A Travellerspoint blog

October 2010

August 18th

Cinque Terre - Five lands

overcast 25 °C

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I awoke at about 9am, showered and changed in preperation of the gruelling 12 kilometre walk along the coast line seperating the five towns. I headed out with Charleson to await the arrival of our shuttle bus. It arrived at just after 10am. We were joined on the bus by a Canadain couple who were planning to hang out in Riomaggoire for the day. Before we arrived in Riomaggoire they had decided to join us for our walk. They purchased their passes for the national park part of the walk and as I had purchased my pass for the national park the day before for 5.50 euros I was set to go. We all headed into Riomaggoire for breakfast. We stopped in at a cafe for a pricey breakfast which for me consisted of bacon and eggs on toast with a coke to boot. After breaky we headed down to the waters edge to begin our 12 kilometre hike. And what a hike it was to be! Today we would walk from Riamagoire all the way to Monterosso al Mare passing through the towns of Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza. 12 kilometres mightn't sound like much but wow.. it was one huge work out! Thankfully the skys were clouded over and threatening rain which was a nice reprieve after the last day of mid 30's. We began the hike by climbing many stairs to the beginning of the national park. We presented out passes as we walked by the check booth at the beginning of the trail and continued along a nice easy trail following the face of the cliffs on the water front. The paths were crowded with so many tourists that we had to walk single file in many places just to be able to go forward. We walked through a tunnel carved through the side of the cliff.
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There were padlocks attached to everything and after asking I around I found out that this was the lovers trail. A couple would lock their padlock onto any part of the metal railings and throw away the key signifying ones eternal love for the other. I couldn't help but wonder if the snorkelers I had seen earlier were desperately searching for the key to their padlocks! We continued on at an easy pace pushing through the throngs of tourists to the next town, Manorola.
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We arrived in the middle of the town and went for a wander down to the water front. There were many old wooden boats of different colours sprawled across the main walking area adding a very nice feel to the town. We then continued on the walk to Corniglia. The trail thus far had been basically flat and easy walking. Just before we reached Corniglia we met our first real staircase. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Eventually we reached the top with our leg muscles spassaming. Looking at the sign I realised that we had climbed 382 steps.
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We went for a wander down one of the hills and after picking a handful of grapes continued into town to look for a place to eat. We ended up at a pizzarea where I bought a couple of small pizza's and a bottle of Corona. We eventually found a unused seat and sat down to eat. Charleson had decided to eat a mars bar for lunch! After lunch we climbed up to the highest place we could find to have a look at the coast line and the town. We then headed on our way to the next town. By now the tourists seemed to really thin out which should have been the first indication that the going was getting a lot tougher. I got to the point where i didn't enjoy going down hill that much as I knew that we would have another up hill climb. We climbed past terraces of gardens and olive groves.
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Up and down countless stairs and eventually arrived at the fourth town, Vernazza. As we arrived you could see a cave right through the side of the mountain where the water went right through. We jogged the steep descent down into Vernazza. We found the other side of the cave/tunnell in one of the streets and saw some small dingies parked inside. We headed around to the water front and then climbed to the turret at the coast end of the town. The cost to climb the turret was one euro. I headed up to the top of the turrett and thoroughly enjoyed the view!
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We then headed back dow to the water front where there was a break wall and people were swimming in front of it. I went over to have a look and a freak wave smashed into the breakwall drenching me with water from the waist down. After checking a te smallest hearse I have ever seen we continued on our way and towards the last town Monterosso al Mare where we would go for a well deserved swim. This stretch was the hardest. The walk from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare took somewhere between one and a half and two hours and was by far the hardest leg of the journey. I was pretty much exhausted before I had gotten half way there. There were ups and downs, downs and ups, ups and downs... on and on it went. I think a bee was trying to have pity on me when it sacrificed its own life to distract me from the ups and downs of our walk. I recieved a nice stinging welt right above my sock line.
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About half an hour before reaching Monterosso al Mare we stumbled upon a little stall on the side of the pathway. There was a guy making and selling fresh homemade lemonade for two euro a glass, but by this stage we really didn't care and bought them anyway.
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Finally, we lugged our aching bodies into Monterosso al Mare and looked for a nice beach. We walked down, changed and headed for the water. We were instantly reprimanded by a waiter and advised that this was a paying beach. We had to walk 50 metres to a our left past a big rock to swim at the free beach and this is what we did.
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Sadly, Charleson went swimming with his glasses on and ended up losing them when he was hit by a rather decent wave. We searched for them but it was a lost cause. The water was freezing cold but it was still awesome to finally be swimming in the ocean again. We dried off and headed to a pizzaria ofr dinner and purchased and lttle bottle of wine. The pizza was good but not as good as I had hoped it would be. After dinner we headed ot the train station to find that the ticket office was closed and the automatic machines were off. WWe decided to chance the fifty euro fine and took the tran anyway. Thankfully we didn't see the conducter the whole time and got back to Riomaggoire in time to catch the train back to the hostel.

Posted by classique 08:14 Archived in Italy Tagged hiking Comments (0)

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