Posted by: Caroline | May 11, 2010

Hiking Through Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, a picturesque set of 5 colorful villages hugging Italy’s Western coastline, was a pleasant introduction for us into Western Europe. The towns are conveniently linked by train and by both easy and challenging hiking trails that wind through vineyards and past miniature waterfalls. This means you can spend the whole day walking or riding between towns, stopping in each to sip a cappucino, try some limoncello (lemon liquer made with the region’s abundant citrus), or just snap the classic Cinque Terre shot of brightly colored clusters of houses jutting into the sea.

We decided to stay in northernmost Monterosso, the only town situated along a proper beach (pictured below) and a good starting point for a day of hiking.

A shot of Monterosso along the hike to neighboring Vernazza.

On the hiking trails, the vistas quickly change from bustling towns to secluded houses…

… and turquoise waters.

Although spring in Europe can mean lots of rain, it also means vivid flowers are blooming everywhere.

The best view of Vernazza is from the trail above town. This picture from Alex’s 2005 trip here was too good not to include because of the perfect lighting, but all the other photos are from our current trip (with less-perfect but still pleasant weather).

Vernazza is the ritziest town of them all.

Vernazza’s harbor.

We took the train to Corniglia, the middle town, and decided to hike one of the more difficult upper trails to get away from the frenetic tourist mobs (Cinque Terre has become something of a must-see in Italy, so plenty of people are seeing it).

Me, contemplating whether it’s really worth it.

It always is. A view of Manarola from the trail.

Manarola is packed with colorful buildings basking in the sunshine.

And a few churches as well.

The easiest path of them all is the paved (and quite sickeningly sweet) Via dell’Amore linking Manarola with Riomaggiore.

I’ll spare you the frequent heart decorations and ubiquitous locks signifying lasting love on this ridiculous path, but here’s a wall of loving grafitti you can probably stomach.

At least the path has views like this!

Riomaggiore welcomes you with plenty of citrus for sale.

We took the train back to our temporary home of Monterosso where we shared a pesto pizza while looking out over the unusually furious sea. This bunker made us miss Albania.

Cinque Terre, despite its burgeoning popularity, remains a lovely destination to get the Italian experience of village charm, sea views, and all the lemon-based products you could imagine.

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