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Cinque Terre | Day 4

Hiking Among Five Towns on the Italian Coastline

Story by Andy Johnson III October 31st, 2016

Leaving Venice by train in the afternoon, we rode through the rest of the day to Levanto and then took a local train down to Riomaggiore in Italy’s Cinque Terre. Of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terra, meaning five lands in Italian, Riomaggiore is the southernmost and is situated along a rugged Mediterranean coastline.

Staying in Riomaggiore

We arrived in the evening with just enough time to enjoy some tea and check into the guest house we had found on AirBNB. After breakfast the next morning, we walked down the steep steps to the main street that runs through town and found our way to the hiking trail to Manarola, the next of the five towns traveling north. The overlook from the trail offered magnificent views behind us of Riomaggiore’s beautiful setting.

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Hiking to Manarola

There are two routes to hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola and the easy way was closed during our visit. This meant that we had to take the path up the steep hillside but it also gave us higher viewpoints than we would have found on the easier path. Thankfully the rain held off during our hike and we will are able to enjoy the beauty of this hike through vineyards and local farms on our way to Manarola.

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Manarola

Manarola is considered likely the oldest of the five towns of the Cinque Terre, dating back to the 1330s. The colors of the houses along the cliffs on either side of the main road are enchanting. We enjoyed lunch and walking around town for a bit while trying to stay dry as it rained during most of our time in town.

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Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso is the northernmost town of the Cinque Terre. Riding the train from Manarola, we disembarked and walked along the waterfront. Since the town has both an older and a newer section, decided to walk over to the older part of town. We found a bunker on the rocks as a leftover from World War II when these cliffs faced the threat of the Allies’ naval forces.

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This is the stone pathway leading down to the old part of town where we planned to go but never made it due to the pouring rain. We were glad that we at least were able to see this beautiful part of town built into the hillside from a distance.

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Convento dei Cappuccini

While walking toward the old town, we encountered the pathway up to an old convent and decided to check it out. A massive statue of Saint Francis of Assisi towers over the coastline. The site is a combination of medieval ruins and a remaining church structure that is still in use by the friars. While looking around, the rain started pouring down so hard that we had to run for cover under an awning by the front door of the church. We waited there for awhile while the rain continued to pour down with a fury. By the time we were able to leave, we were ready to eat and wanted to avoid more rain so we walked back to a restaurant that we had found earlier built into the cliffs and overlooking the old bunker.

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L’Ancora della Tortuga

While walking through Monterosso we saw a restaurant built into the rock overhanging a cliff with a view of the sea. Fascinated by the setting, and it’s magnificent views, we took note of L‘Ancora della Tortuga and kept walking toward town. When heavy rainfall stopped us in our tracks, we decided that all we wanted was to find a restaurant where we could stay dry. After making our way back to the restaurant we enjoyed a delightful swordfish pasta and some of the local pesto that is world famous for originating from this region.

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Footnote: Captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 using the XF 10-24mm f/4, XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4, XF 16mm f/1.4, and XF 35 f/2 lenses. Several shots were captured with a Panasonic GH4 and 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.
Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore, Province of La Spezia, Italy