I booked this trip the day before the departure and even if it was August my girlfriend and I were able to find a good stay in Vernazza, the second village for those who arrive from Genoa.
There are many options to stay in Cinque Terre and probably the cheapest is to house in one of the places located just before Cinque Terre national park. We chose Vernazza to breathe the atmosphere of a small village that extends for less than 300 meters from the train station to the characteristic square that opens into the Porticciolo. Despite the fact that we were in the middle of August there was a peaceful mood and the village seemed to be set on quiet Sunday vibes. The street (the only one!) that drives you to the main square is full of little markets and has a very suggestive access to the beach through a tunnel in a cave.
Life in Vernazza takes place in the very limited area of Marconi square: you’ll find the main bars, restaurants and the major points of interest. From the square you can move to the top of the Andrea Doria Castle and Belforte tower to enjoy the view as well as visit the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia. Near the Church, Ananasso Bar, mainly frequented by locals, offers drinks and a good view.
The Jetty, that extends into the sea, gives a special view of the colorful sunsets and when the sea is rough the show is more than guaranteed.
The basic idea was to explore the Cinque Terre in two days taking advantage of the hiking trail and the sea, even because trains are always late and crowded in August. We started the first day taking the Vernazza-Monterosso trail, 1.5h path that goes from Vernazza to Monterosso through the mountain, after having bought the Cinque Terre Card (at the station) valid as trekking pass.
Along the way my attention was caught by the infinite Vineyard and the several spots to enjoy the city view. After almost 2h we get to Monterosso al mare which has the biggest beach of the Cinque Terre: we left our stuff there and went for a refreshing swim in the sea.
The old part of the village is quaint and cozycozy: definitely the right place to rest and eat a typical focaccia with onions. Don’t forget a quick visit to the Church of Saint John Baptist before leaving.
In the afternoon, from the Cueva Club in Framura, you can rent a boat and explore the Cinque Terre from the sea side. We found out Riccardo’s Airbnb experience which gives a snorkeling excursion and a tour around some unique sea places that are spread over the coast, toward the marine protected area of Cinque Terre in the eastern most portion of Riviera di Levante. Enjoy the aperitif from the boat before coming back to the port and admire the sunset on the sea.
The path from Vernazza to Corniglia goes high and is more challenging than the previous one. In 2.5h you’ll arrive to Corniglia, the highest of the Cinque Terre and the only one that does not have a seaport but the old city worths a visit. Walk through the only street to get to the terrace with the large view on the sea and Manarola on the right end side. The path from Corniglia to Manarola has a steep climb for over 50 minutes walking – the longer route – and it last, overall, 2.5h. The short and most panoramic route is currently inaccessible. We decided to use the train (delayed and full of people). After the hike morning and the stopover in Corniglia, once in Manarola we went straight to take a dip from the the rocks situated in the porticciolo to freshen up a bit. Manarola is the most picturesque of the Cinque Terre villages and can be observed from many spots thanks to the paths at the right hand of the port. We had lunch at Marina Piccola, overlooking the sea.
I didn’t really plan anything about restaurants in Cinque Terre since, on average, they are all valid – but not special unless, I guess, super expensive. However, I’d like to highlight that wines here are delicious, from the red one “a scià” to the white one “Cinque Terre doc – Costa da’ Posa”.
Manarola really caught my eye so we stayed in the village to capture its stunning beauty.
By train, in the afternoon, we finally get to Rio Maggiore, the last village I visited and my least favorite one. The old part of the village isn’t that special while the porticciolo is bright and colorful.
We took the train back to Monterosso beach for the last swim before coming back to Vernazza and have dinner at Gambero Rosso bar.
GOOD THINGS TO KNOW
Piazza Guglielmo Marconi 30, Vernazza
Gambero Rosso Bar
Piazza Guglielmo Marconi 7, Vernazza
Viale Alessandro Guidoni, Vernazza
Cinque Terre Hiking Paths
Visit the park
Localita Punta Bonfiglio, Manarola
Porto turistico, Framura