From Riomaggiore to Monterosso, a discovery of the villages of the world famous coast
The trek enters the territory of the National Park “Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre” and unwinds within the terraces and the villages which were put under the protection of the UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The trail starts on the square behind the train station of Riomaggiore and in the first part corresponds to the Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Walk), the fascinating road dug into the rocks above the sea during the 1920s. Passing through a gallery we arrive at the village of Manarola, which in its hamlet Groppo hosts the Cantina Sociale (Cooperative Wine growers’ association) of the Cinque Terre.
After only half an hour of walk one reaches the conviction that the life and architecture of these people had to subdue to the unique environment of this coast, an example of balance between man and nature. We turn left towards the marina of Manarola, Palaedo, continuing under entertainment area of Punta Bonfiglio. In the spot where the two stretches of the trail, the old and the new one, meet, it becomes a flat dirt road, and follows the length of the beach of rounded stones of Corniglia, where the waters of the protected marine area present themselves with all their clearness.
We pass the train station of Corniglia and on the steps called “Lardarina” go up to the village. The trail passes on the outside of the historical centre, where vineyards take turns with vegetable gardens, and draws alongside the medieval church of San Pietro. It then crosses the Rio della Groppa and through olive groves arrives on the beach of Guvano. After that we ascend to the village centre of Prevo, midway between Corniglia and Vernazza, and further on encounter another group of olives and the steep coast of Macereto with agaves and Indian figs. On the crossing with the following trail we find ourselves back among the terraces, where rows of vines bask in the sun until sunset, and see the highest tower of Vernazza. We enter the heart of the village, cross the main road and go up to the group of houses above the church of Santa Maria di Antiochia. The lane follows the altitude of 150-200 m over the blue sea, with fascinating views of the village of Vernazza.
Getting closer to Monterosso we meet terraces cultivated with vines and citrus fruit, mainly the famous local lemons. We then arrive at Punta Corone, which marks off the bay of Monterosso al Mare to the east. The trail is now immersed in the Mediterranean scrub with a wide variety of botanical species (around 950). At this point we must not give in to fatigue but continue to Punta Mesco, from where we will enjoy the entire panorama of the five villages of the Cinque Terre painted on the ridges of the high cliffs, an intense landscape of delicate and soft colours, an immense human work of art, which you have just experienced.