Friday, February 26, 2016

Tips and Tricks for Walking the Cinque Terre - Monterossa to Vernazza

The Cinque Terre (CHINK-weh-Tay-reh) in Italy is a series of five small fishing villages connected by cliff side trails and a railroad line. Walking the trails of this UNESCO World Heritage site offers spectacular high up views of the Ligurian Sea and the jeweled  colored villages below.

The village of Vernazza 

Before heading out be aware of the fact the trails can be haphazardly closed at any given time. Too wet or slippery, a rock slide or trail maintenance is often the cause of these closures. When we were there in November there was only one trail open and that was between Monterossa and Vernazza. All five villages could be visited by train but only these two were accessible by the trail We didn't know this until the morning we bought our tickets at the Levanto train station, To be safe check the website before making plans. 

To check for trail closing click here to visit Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre. You'll find an interactive map showing all the trails in the park system.

You'll Need a Ticket 

We bought our ticket at the train station in Levanto where they have a special window just for the Cinque Terre. Apparently the price can vary depending on what's going on but the day we visited we paid 12 euro for each person to walk the trail with unlimited use of the train. The very nice English speaking agent made it clear that we had to write our full name on the ticket or take a chance on getting fined. We did as we were told but we never saw anyone who looked remotely interested in whether or not we even had a ticket!

A Most Challenging Trail!

I would describe the trail from Monterossa to Vernazz a as very challenging. When you leave Montersossa you'll have to climb a series of stone staircases. Lots of stairs. Not just a few stairs but LOTS OF STAIRS and they go straight UP! At one point the stairs seemed to have no end. All I could think of was the song "Stairway to Heaven". 

Fortunately the stairs ended and we were on a fairly flat trail. (OK sort of flat)

Parts of the trail were very narrow.

We came across a small waterfall and creek and a stone bridge.

Steady climb up on an uneven, rocky trail.

In some places the trail went up and then back down. 
It's time for a snack!

And more uneven, rocky trail...

The trail is quite difficult but if you're in reasonable good health it should be doable. I'm in good health and walk a lot but I'm certainly no athlete and I made it!  Just take your time climbing and enjoy the views, the vineyards, flowers, cactus and the cats. Lots of variety on this trail! 

Looking back on Monterossa

Huge, beautiful cactus growing on the rocky cliffs.

and can you believe it? 
A cat sanctuary on the trail. Complete with houses and food and water! 

We even found a geocache in a small cave on the trail.

And Just in Case

Signs like this are posted at intervals on the trail in case of emergency. Of course you need a cell phone...

WC, toilet, bathroom? Whatever you call it you won't find one on the trail...

The Reward for Our Efforts

Our first view of Vernazza!

Now we just have to get down there...

The trail down into Vernazza didn't have as many stairs as there were coming up from Monterossa. It took us about 2 hours to walk the trail. That included a few stops for photos, to have a snack and to find a couple of geocaches. 

If you're ever in the area don't pass up a chance to walk this trail. The climb is something else but the reward is so worth it. Just to be able to say "I did it!" is a pretty good reward. 

What to Bring

  • I wore hiking boots but a good walking shoe would be fine.
  • Carry water 
  • A little snack might be nice
  • Sunscreen and a hat - especially in the summer
  • Camera to record all the wonderful sights
  • A hiking stick is nice but not necessary


  1. What a great trail and wonderful scenes! The cat houses are quite a surprise :)

    1. Yes we were surprised to see the cat houses. Especially since someone has to walk up there to bring food! Not an easy task.


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