After a week of non-stop sight-seeing, it was refreshing to pack up our bags and head off for the jewel of Italy–the Cinque Terre. We planned 4 days on the coast selecting Manarola as our home base. Most tourists come to the Cinque Terre by way of the La Spezia train station; a commuter train then runs between the 5 towns from morning to night (but not past 10:30pm…which we quickly discovered after a late dinner in Monterosso with friends) Our guest house was fabulous…a view of the sea and a bed that begged us to sink into as we sipped local wine. We highly recommend it! check out more about Linea d’Acqua here: http://www.lalineadacqua.com/en/home-en/
You can be a purist when visiting Cinque Terre…the goal being to walk as many miles as possible on the trail. OR, you can be a day-tripper, taking the train to one of the towns early in the morning and strolling through the quaint cobblestone streets. We chose to do a bit of both…lots of slow walking in town, plenty of stops for gelato and fresh seafood and a nice hike on the trail. We recommend doing the walk from Vernazza to Monterosso; the trail is fairly steep in both directions but because so many tourists stay in Monterosso it gets very crowded southbound. We started our hike around 10am and it took a solid 2 hours. The views of the towns are spectacular; you don’t need to be a great photographer because the place is picture perfect! Having a good pair of hiking shoes is helpful. The dirt path is well-maintained but there are plenty of steep stairs cut into the trail and when passing other hikers you have to dart off the path to pass. We also brought two bottles of water in our daypack. Near the end of the trail, several vendors set up shop and offered fresh squeezed orange juice and fresh fruit for sale.