I had a two day Cinque Terre pass so after my hike from Vernazza to Monterosso the previous day I was keen to explore the only other section of the coastal path that was open from Corniglia to Vernazza.
I arrived at Corniglia railway station, which is some way below the village itself being perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the surrounding coastline. Shunning the shuttle bus I opted for the climb up over three hundred steps from the station to the village centre which was hard work, but much more fun. In the centre I explored colourful buildings with washing hanging over balconies, a pretty church and the lovely Largo Taragio main square with its central statue flanked by restaurants.
From the square a shady narrow street led up to the town viewpoint with views along the rugged coast with terraced vineyards, giving me an idea of what was in store along the trail. Back in the shade of the main street I browsed trinket shops and came away with a little olive dish (not exactly useful for my walk) and a rather more useful and very reasonably priced salami panino freshly made at a local grocers.
On the trail, the path climbed steadily (as I had thought) through terraced vineyards but afforded lovely views along the coast and back towards Corniglia perched on the rocky coastline. Halfway along the trail was a (rather remote) house with an open garden with various souvenirs and jewelry on sale, offering a free water bottle filling service from an outside tap, which I gladly accepted, leaving a tip.
From the water stop the trail descended into Vernazza and soon the trail entrance station came into view and beyond this Vernazza’s rocky but rather inviting beach. The beach can be reached just off the main street in the town, through a rather uninviting tunnel – though it’s worth waiting in the queue of one-way pedestrian traffic as it is rather charming. However, I wasn’t having my afternoon swim here – I made my way back up to the railway station in Vernazza and caught the next train along the coast to Levanto.
Levanto is a slightly larger seaside town just outside the Cinque Terre (but still covered by the Cinque Terre train pass) where the terrain is a little flatter at the coast, so the station is a little further inland. I’d almost forgotten what walking through busy traffic-filled roads was like, having been rather spoiled for a few days in the Cinque Terre where you can just pop out of a railway tunnel and alight at a station platform just a short walk from the cheerful alleyways of the five villages.
Levanto also had its old town charms, however, complete with a pretty town hall and square, Sant’ Andrea Church with its attractive bell tower and a thirteenth century castle. After exploring all of this I arrived at the sea front with its long stretch of sandy beach – an ideal spot for a dip to cool off.
For more information on the Cinque Terre national park including hiking trail status see the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre website.
The Cinque Terre two-day train card which covers two days hiking on the coastal trails and trains between La Spezia and Levanto cost €19 which was good value for me as I used the train four times on both days. The train trips between the Cinque Terre stations are just a matter of minutes and a single journey is just a couple of euros, so you’ll need to make at least three train trips a day to make the train card worthwhile (though it is very convenient). Don’t forget to validate the train card on the first day you use it!
For more images see my Cinque Terre and Levanto set on flickr.