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Explore the stunning Cinque Terre along a series of 15th century footpaths
The Cinque Terre in northern Italy are a series of five small fishing villages dug into the cliffs where the Appenine mountains meet the Mediterranean coastline. Each village is set between the beach and the hills and has its own special characteristics. There are almost no cars and being hard to access has helped to protect their unique heritage. It is on 15th century footpaths high above the sea, that you will explore the Liguria National Park. The extensive network of trails connecting the villages pass through olive groves and terraced vineyards, with sweeping views of the vast expanse of the Mediterranean below. There are few walks in Europe which capture so many highlights in such a compact area.
- Experience the breathtaking coastal scenery
- Explore the fascinating towns of Corniglia and Vernazza
- Walk along 15th Century footpaths to discover small beaches, high cliffs and incredible views
- Enjoy delicious culinary specialties of the region
- Stay in the heart of Cinque Terre in your own apartment
Day 1 The Azurro Trail (3.5hrs)
Arrive in Corniglia and meet with our representative who will direct you to your apartment. After settling in you can begin the first walk along the panoramic Azurro trail which takes you to two of the five colourful villages that make up the Cinque Terre, among which Vernazza is the most stunning. Traverse between scrublands, farmyards, gardens, vineyards and orchards and along alleys leading to interesting sites such as the beautiful Santa Margherita di Antiocha Church of Ligurian gothic style. Return to Corniglia by train. Duration: 3h 30 min :: Ascent: 410m :: Descent: 500m :: Walking distance: 7km
Day 2 Crossing the Punta Mesco (4.5hrs)
Rich from its religious past, the northern part of the Cinque Terre holds many remarkable buildings. The facades of the churches of San Giovanni Battista in Monterosso and Sant’Andrea in Levanto are decorated with Carrarra marble and serpentine in a purely Genoese gothic style. Beautiful trails along the ridge among conifers and deciduous trees lead to Punta Mesco, the Cinque Terre’s ultimate bastion. This abrupt cape made up of red rock watches over the whales, which swim in from the open sea to this preserved and tranquil area each year to give birth. On arrival in Levanto there are many relics from the Middle Ages which can be found in the middle of the small town: the castle, ramparts, and the clock tower, to name a few. Return to Corniglia by train. Duration: 4h 30min :: Ascent: 650m :: Descent: 650m :: Walking distance: 11km
Day 3 The coast of Tramonti (3hrs)
The Tramonti coast, the steepest and most cultivated section of the Cinque Terre, is only visited by a small number of hikers. This is where you will find the small towns of Schiara, Monesteroli, Fossola, and Campi, all of which were built around vine cultivation and vinification. Today, the area still produces wine, with people from La Spezia, Campiglia, and Biassa maintaining the tradition in their spare time. The hike takes you through the uppermost part of the area, which showcases the impressive efforts of the townspeople. The architecture is unique, the vine growers’ houses only visible by their red tile roofs suspended above the sea. Apart from the beautiful views, the trails will take you among the vines, maritime pines, and oaks, all the way to the Tramonti menhir, the Sant’Antonio Chapel, and the Montenegro Sanctuary. Duration: 3h :: Ascent: 250m :: Descent: 750m :: Walking distance: 9km
Day 4 Corniglia, Volastra, Manarola: A sea of vines (3hrs)
At the heart of the Cinque Terre, the Volastra domain is home to the most prestigious viticultural lands – due to their aesthetic qualities and the high quality of their products. During the September harvest, this is where convoys of raisins climb up the steepest slopes on monorails, seeming to leap into the sea below. It is a truly impressive sight. Overlooking the coast and the green open spaces and terraces, the hike snakes between dry stone walls. The plunging views of small villages clinging to mountain spurs are a photographer’s dream. The highlights of the walk continue with the discovery of Manarola and its animated multicoloured alleys. Duration: 3 hours :: Ascent: 430m :: Descent: 430m :: Walking distance: 8km
Day 5 Walk in either The Montemarcello-Magra or Portofino Natural Park (3.5hrs or 5.5hrs)
OPTION 1 - The Montemarcello-Magra Natural Park This hike follows portions of the AGV trail, which connects the Portovenere ridges to La Spezia and the Montemarcello, at the boundaries of Liguria and Tuscany. The name stands for “Alta Via del Golfo”, which means “high road over the gulf”. In good visibility it is possible to see the north-eastern part of Tuscany, which begins in the Magra river valley, as well as the outline of the Apuane Alps in the background. The return trip from Zanego to Lerici presents an overhanging path among olive trees on the old stone paths of the Montemarcello. Duration: 3h 30min :: Ascent: 400m :: Descent: 400m :: Walking distance: 10km OPTION 2 - Portofino Natural Park The peninsula in the gulf of Genoa was created by ancient glaciers, which carried large moraines to the edge of the sea while sliding down the Ligurian Alps. These rounded rocks and boulders were torn from the landscape by the moving ice and ended up here. Then, a fine cement bound the boulders to form a hard rock that can be found throughout Portofino Natural Park. The paths are an excellent way to discover the area’s history: monastic life in San Fruttuoso, isolated farms and ancient agricultural terraces, stories of pirates or smugglers hidden in secret coves. The wild interior of the peninsula is in stark contrast to the beautifully decorated towns of Portofino and Santa Margherita. Duration: 5h 30 min :: Ascent: 700m :: Descent: 700m :: Walking distance: 18km
Day 6 From Marola (La Spezia) to Portovenere - The Gulf of Poets (4hrs)
The climb starting in Marola opens up to beautiful views of the city of La Spezia, also called the Gulf of Poets. When visibility is good, it is possible to see the Apennine mountain range as well as the Apuane Alps and their white marble quarries. The hike climbs up through gardens before going through the Castellana marble quarries where, even today, a rare black marble called portoro is mined. The seemingly idyllic landscape encountered during the descent into Portovenere is full of surprises: the calm and majestic gulf widens up towards the open sea and the islands that inspired such great poets, artists, and learned men and women as Byron, George Sand, Pétrarque, Montale, and Marconi where their creative impulses were nurtured during extended stays. Once a Roman port, Portovenere became a part of the republic of Genoa in the middle ages. Being the closest military post to Tuscany, this was a place from which sea battles were waged with its eternal (and current) rival and neighbour, the republic of Pisa. Today, the area is visited by many tourists, who come to enjoy its ancient architecture: houses on the cliffs, castles and ramparts towards the hill, meandering alleys, and the Genoese gothic churches of San Lorenzo and San Pietro. Duration: 3 hours Ascent: 400m :: Descent: 400m :: Walking distance: 8km
Day 7 Trip concludes
Arrangements end on check out from your apartment in the morning.
- 6 nights in a studio apartment (Category C) on a twinshare basis (upgrades available (Category A & B) to accommodate up to 4 people)
- Route directions and maps
- Assistance from our on site representative
- Train tickets: Monterosso to Corniglia and return, Levanto to Corniglia, Corniglia to Camogli, Santa Marguerita Ligure to Corniglia, Riomaggiore to Corniglia, Corniglia to La Spezia, and Monterosso to Corniglia
- *Note: high season is from 1-31 August and a supplement applies
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Accommodation is in a studio apartment in Corniglia suitable for up to 2 guests. You can upgrade to a duplex studio suitable for up to 3 adults and 1 child, or a 2 bedroom apartment for up to 4 adults. Discounted rates apply for the 3rd and 4th person. Ask our office for details.
Wet weather gear, sunscreen, good walking boots / shoes and sun hat - walking poles optional but recommended. (A comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).