After the short train ride (mainly through tunnels) from Riomaggiore, I wandered down Vernazza’s busy main street to the harbour and the pretty Santa Margherita Church before exploring the colourful alleyways leading up from the harbour towards the castle.
By this time of day it was starting to get rather warm, so the shade of the narrow alleyways was welcome, so I lingered here for a while and took a few photographs – which took quite a while anyway, waiting for a view free of people – including those that (helpfully they thought) just took a step to the side and waited, whilst still being well within the field of view of the wide angle lens.
After this it was time to tackle my first stretch of Cinque Terre coastal trail from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare. I found a few nice viewpoints along the first part of the trail looking back toward Vernazza which I planned to return to at dusk to take some photographs of the town as the lights came on. The rocky trail was well marked but quite hard work in the midday heat but yielded some nice views along the coast toward Monterosso in the distance.
The second half of the trail descended gradually into Monterosso and so was a little easier going and eventually Monterosso’s old town beach came into view with lots of colourful umbrellas. I was tempted to walk straight into the sea, but decided to save swimming for the afternoon as it was time for a late lunch of calamari and prawns at a beachfront restaurant along with a litre bottle of water (as I had swigged all of my drinking water on the trail).
After lunch I had a wander around the old town with more colourful buildings and busy streets before heading back down to the sea and along to the new town with its longer beach and more umbrellas. After all this it was definitely time for a dip in the sea!
In the late afternoon I headed up to the station to catch a train back to Vernazza for some sunset and dusk photography. First stop was back down at the harbour where the church and surrounding buildings were now well lit by the setting sun.
As the sun descended further and Venazza went into the shade I went back up to the start of the trail and waited for the floodlights to come on. In the blue twilight about twenty minutes after sunset the light was perfect – a fitting end to a day exploring the Cinque Terre.
For more information on the Cinque Terre national park including hiking trail status see the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre website.
For more images see my Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare set on flickr.