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Backpacking Italy at Cinque Terre is extremely popular, especially on the main coastal trails, which are subject to entrance fees. It's worth exploring some of the higher trails above Manarola (Volastra), above Riomaggiore (Monte Negro) or routes that start outside of the park such as the trail between Monterosso and Levanto.
One must purchase a pass, which is available at the information offices near the train stations at any of the 5 villages, as well as the stations at Levanto and La Spezia, in order to hike along the trails between the villages. You can pay a small additional fee for the pass and get unlimited travel between La Spezia, Levanto, and the villages on regional trains.
The landscape is the main attraction of the Cinque Terre. Mediterranean trees and herbs grow from the top of the hills down to the water.
You can hike on the paths and enjoy the local atmosphere, walk through the towns or between them, or enjoy the scenery described above.
The Cinque Terre has some of the best coastline hiking trails on the globe! The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Lovers Walk (Via Dell'Amore). The beautiful trail along the shore is very easy to hike.
The Lovers Walk (Via Dell'Amore)
Lovers have the chance to write their names on the trees and rocks surrounding the walk, along the path. You will come across The Lover's Lock which is a place to seal your eternal love, in the middle of Riomaggiore and Manarola. At this place, where many people duplicate this, there is a concrete throne in the shape of a female and male locked in a kiss. Bring a small lock to attach to one of the many gates or rails to seal your eternal love in Cinque Terre!
The Lover's Lock
The next hike from Manarola to Corniglia is again easy. However, there is a large zig zag shaped staircase with three hundred eighty five steps which can be quite an ascent in the midday sunshine (you call this an easy hike?). The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is only steep at certain places and offers incredible views of shore.
Hike from Manarola to Corniglia
Winding through Olive orchards and vineyards and offering dramatic ocean views, the path from Vernazza to Monterosso is the steepest (there is over 250 m of climbing over very uneven rocks, totaling approx. 750 steps)! The trails are not very wide, with a very real danger of falling twelve to fifteen feet if you lose your footing. Take some water with you, because you will work up quite a sweat.
Path from Vernazza to Monterosso
The hike between all the villages takes most of the day. A pedestrian ferry service runs seasonally to all 5 villages, plus Lerici, for those that would rather not hike the entire trail. It gives a nice view of the villages from the water, and the price is reasonable. Also, a quick way to hop among towns is the milk train that connects all the villages.
To avoid the hottest part of the day during the summer, it is advised that you attempt the hike as early as possible. Good, sturdy, walking shoes are essential.
You must buy a pass for the walk. If you wish to catch a train to the next town, it is also possible to buy a train and hiking pass in one. It is advisable to check local time tables on holidays and Sunday as you could be waiting up to an hour for the right train.
Backpacking Italy Walking Times:
Monterosso to Vernazza: ninety minutes.
Narrow trail, and steep at times. Beautiful views of Vernazza.
Beautiful Views of Vernazza!
Vernazza to Corniglia: ninety minutes.
Amazing views of Vernazza and is the greenest trail.
Amazing views of Vernazza!
Corniglia to Manarola: forty five minutes.
Scenic lower trail past a beach.
Manarola - has its own beautiful vineyard walk.
Beautiful Vineyard Walk!
Manarola to Riomaggiore: twenty minutes.
The famous Via dell'Amore, paved flat trail cut into a cliff.
The famous Via dell'Amore
There are a few campgrounds where you can rent a tent with 2 beds and linens. Quite a few can be found just to the north of the park (none are inside the park) in the touristy but pleasant town of Levanto.
Touristy But Pleasant Town of Levanto
Camping Aqua Dolce near the center of town and about two hundred meters from the beach.
Pian di Picce and Albero 'd Oro are about 1,000 meters from the beach but closer to the railway station and situated next to each other.
Further north around Deiva Marina and south of La Spezia can be found other campsites. Connecting all 5 villages, Levanto is a better option though because it is serviced by the park run train service.
Try to reserve in advance when arriving in late June, July, August since these campsites fill up quickly during that time. The hostel, including many hotels, book up months in advance. So, you too can have fun backpacking Italy, with a little planning!
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