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Cinque Terre hiking trails: let's post references on a super thread

Cinque Terre hiking trails: let's post references on a super thread

Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 08:22 AM
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MaureenB
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Cinque Terre hiking trails: let's post references on a super thread

I think we need a central reference point for detailed information about the Cinque Terre trails: specifically, the degree of difficulty of each individual hike. It may exist, but I have missed it. (It doesn't exist at the CT, either-- if you expect trail signage, forget it.)
Having just returned from hiking Vernazza to Corniglia, I wish I'd done more research about the different trails. The one we chose is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but it's almost 100 percent stone stairs UP for 90 minutes (more if you stop to admire the view and catch your breath in the shade). I guess I was expecting a path that took an incline, not a stone stairway. Those stairs get tiring. At least I was wearing good walking shoes. I saw some poor people-- probably uninformed about the trail, too-- who were wearing flip-flops; even one girl who was barefoot. Also, lots of people who looked to be in their 70s (who may have been in better shape than me) IMHO, you want to be prepared to walk that trail, with its loose footing and sharp drop-offs.
Had I known better, I would have walked the reverse, from Corniglia, so we were going downhill to Vernazza. Or I might have chosen the two hikes from Corniglia going south, which I think are easier.
Judging from all the CT questions on Travel Talk, I suggest we do a superthread on the TRAILS THEMSELVES: degree of difficulty, hiking times, photos.
I don't mean information on CT lodging or restaurants or gelato or weather there, though that might be a good idea for different superthreads.
Here's one link I found, which has a host of other links all pertaining to hiking the CT:
http://goeurope.about.com/cs/cinquet...cinque_map.htm
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 10:12 AM
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anecdotal info is probably more useful, in my book, than the official trail maps/guides. I accessed the 5Terre park site's info before I hiked the trails between towns a couple of weeks ago - and it seems like we both hiked the "hard" direction I left Vernazza at 9 a.m. and met my wife in Riomaggiore at noon for lunch (Careful about making plans to meet anywhere but the rail stations in the towns LOL... when I finally found her 45 minutes later than our meeting time, we wound up riding the train up one stop and ate in Manarola), then I rode to Monterosso and walked back that afternoon to Vernazza. Again with the "hard" way! My knees are still getting back at me for the stone steps (part of the blame has to go to various campanili!) Here's the link for the PDF's from the ParcoNationale (the site also has a lot of good local resources for lodging, etc.):

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/40_2.asp?id_lingue=2
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:44 AM
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MaureenB
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Ronin, you're right about the need for anecdotal info. Maybe others will post their stories here, and then I could summarize it all in one descriptive write-up of each of the CT trails.
For instance, I don't know if any of the maps tell you if a 'trail' is a series of stone steps. The distance and the elevation weren't as challenging to me, as the constant stair-stepping up.
Here's one description I found, on the link I posted above:
"These are my trip report notes from our walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso in June 2000. We did not do the whole trail in one day, but in a combination of two separate half days. We returned in September 2003 and did the trail in one day.
 
June 2000: We drove to Riomaggiore and parked in the 5 level car park at the top of the town. The road ends at this car park, so the parking is easy to find.

* The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is paved (it is called the "Via dell'Amore" or Path of Love) and is short, only 20 minutes between the towns.
* From Manarola on the trail is not paved. It becomes narrow and steep in many places, but the trail never becomes excessively difficult. The walk from Manarola to Corniglia takes one hour. The last half of the trail walks you up a beautiful switchback staircase that goes from sea level to the town up on a cliff.
* From Corniglia to Vernazza the trail gets more narrow and includes lots of climbing and descending as it makes its way along the coast. It takes about an hour and a half.
* The last portion, from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare, is the longest. It takes about two hours with lots of up and down. I counted 700 steps down to Monterosso at the end.

You could do the trail easily in one day (about five hours) - unless you get caught in a horrible storm like we did."

It's all personal, of course, but I would not say I could do the entire trail "easily" in one day. Now, my husband, son and daughter could-- but they're a different story.
Next time, I think I'd do the bottom portion, from Riomaggiore to Manarolo to Corniglia. Then on to Vernazza, if I felt up to it, and the weather was good.
We were fortunate the weather in early May was low 70s and beautifully sunny. We found shady places to get relief from the sun, and I was really happy we weren't doing the trail in really hot summertime.
Anyone else care to post their experiences on the CT trails, and recommendations?
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 08:10 PM
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ttt

VS :-"
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:49 PM
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bookmarking, I like the idea of this thread ! Sometimes I wish we could post pictures (maps etc) here !
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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 10:33 AM
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I am going to CT in June and would appreciate more clarification. For those of you who have done it, after all is said and done, which direction is best? i seen people post to go the direction that the sun is at your back (don't have the notes in front of me and don't remember which direction that is!) I've also been told the hike from Levanto to Monterroso is less crowded and very nice (2 hrs) and the hike from Monterroso to Vernazza is the most difficult. Also, there is a page on www.slowtrav.com with some trail details, but not the kind of anecdotes you are talking about here. We plan to spend two days hiking so there is plenty of time to wander and explore. If you could suggest the best way to break this up considering it will be HOT, please let me know. Also, dumb question: Any bushes when nature calls on the longer hikes?? Thanks so much. (BTW, we are in-shape, middle aged, good walkers. will wear good sneakers)
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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 10:38 AM
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There is a bus/shuttle that leaves the train station about 10 minutes after each train that will take you to the top for free. You pass the train station on the trail. I'm not sure of the schedule for the return if you are taking the train on to another CT stop.
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Old Jun 4th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Old Jun 4th, 2006, 07:08 PM
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alison-

From what I have read, with the proper pass you can vary how you experience the CT.

e.g. We aren't staying in the CT, but near enough (in June/July), and on our CT day we plan to take a train to Manarola for our first stop.

From Manarola we plan to walk north for the approx. 1 hour to Corniglia.

From Corniglia, we will probably train to Vernazza. From Vernazza we will walk a little south for the views, and then return to Vernazza to have lunch - hopefully something with pesto.

From Vernazza it will be train or ferry to Monterrosso and hopefully a swim on the beach.

After that, it will be the ferry back south to Manarola and approx. a 20 min. walk to Riomaggiore for some evening snacks and drinks and a beautiful sunset.

Well, that is our plan and dream. ;-)

VS :-"
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Old Jun 4th, 2006, 07:23 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Jun 4th, 2006, 10:08 PM
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Bookmarking, also!
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 06:16 PM
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Old Jun 6th, 2006, 09:46 AM
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Viaggio, your plan sounds like a well-informed and good one. Have fun there, and remember to post your report, ok?

Here's what I wrote re: our Cinque Terre day, in my trip report thread about Santa Margherita, Cinque Terre and Portofino:

"We took the train to Vernazza from Santa Margherita, and had a simple picnic of yoghurt and fruit at the waterfront. Before leaving Vernazza, I picked up a card from a hotel there, which looks nice, the Gianni Franzi, Piazza Marconi 1, www.giannifranzi.it.

We headed up the trail to Corniglia, expecting it to take about 1.5 hours, which was correct. It is a breath-taking walk, in more ways than one. The views are amazing, and the uphill stair stepping takes your breath away, too! Actually, in retrospect, I wish we’d taken the train all the way down to the southernmost town, Riomaggioire, then walked up to Manarolo, and on to Corniglia. Those two walks would probably be less strenuous than the one we selected, which is all uphill and all stairs. However, there were plenty of spots to stop in the shade and view the unbelievably clear water below, and the gorgeous coastline.

Once we arrived in Corniglia, we took a break in a pretty little piazza. We found a little market to purchase a bread, cheese, tomato and wine snack, while we decided how to spend the rest of our visit in Cinque Terre. I chose to take the train to the next town, Manarolo, while my daughter opted for the hike, since it was the one walk she hadn’t been able to do yet.

We decided to meet at the train station in Manarolo, and I set out to walk to the Corniglia train station. Again in retrospect, I should have just taken the hike, because it is a long walk down to the train station, on another seemingly endless stairway. I probably walked as far to the train station as the hike to Manarolo would have been. (I’ve since discovered there’s a free shuttle from the town of Corniglia to its train station.)

We easily met in Manarolo, which is quite small. I found a nice little gelato shop there, and we again had the pleasant task of deciding how to proceed with our day’s itinerary. After a short break, we caught the ferry boat back to Vernazza, in order to see the beautiful coastline from the sea. From Vernazza, we hopped back on the train to Santa Margherita Ligure.

It was a great day at Cinque Terre, and we were lucky to have the amazing weather. The air temperature was probably in the low 70s, with a slight cool breeze off the water. "
 
Old Jun 6th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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My wife and I did the hike two years ago. We're both in our early 50s and found the trails not too hard. We stayed in Vernazza and did the section from there to Monterosso early in the morning before the sun got hot.

We then trained backed to Riomaggiore and hiked west back to Vernazza with a stop for breakfast in Manarola.

Total time including breaks was about 5.5 hours. We stopped to take pictures and admire the views. I think going from Riomaggiore to Monterosso (yes, sun is at your back) is best as the rate of incline is easier than going the other way. As another poster had said it's easier going down those steps than up. It's like a giant stairmaster.

I guess my advice is to dress appropriately (it can get very hot), wear good shoes, take water and don't rush it. Enjoy the views and smell the flowers.

And try the fresh pasta with pesto at Gianni Franzi in Vernazza!
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Old Jun 6th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Well, first of all, would someone please clarify if there is more than ONE trail which links all five of the locations????
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Old Jun 6th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Intrepid, that's a great question. I am confused, too, but I saw on a map of Cinque Terre that there may be an inland, longer trail. Anyone have first-hand experience on that trail, and can describe its hikes?
BC, your report is very enlightening. Thanks! Unfortunately, Gianni Franzi had just closed after lunch when I stopped in.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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Correction: We actually took the ferry up all the way to Monterosso, not Vernazza, on our way back to Santa Margherita. It made for a longer time on the water.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2006, 08:41 PM
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There is really only one "main" path that connects the villages. All the places except Corniglia are at sea level so the path follows the coastline longitudinally but has some good climbs.

Remember though that there are other smaller villages and farms further up the mountainside and before the road was put in they were all connected by trails. So there are trails that run from the water up the slope and trails that interconnect once you're up the hill. Even though you are within park boundaries those trails may not be repaired very often and show as secondary on the map.

You have to pay to hike the park but you get a nice little pocket map that shows all the trails and roads and points of interest. It also gives the average time from place to place. That may be the map you're thinking of MaureenB
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Old Jun 6th, 2006, 08:54 PM
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This website has a map and some explanation of both trails.

http://goeurope.about.com/od/cinquet...que_hiking.htm

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Old Jun 6th, 2006, 08:59 PM
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Hey MaureenB, thanks for posting your CT experience again. I remember your writing of your time there - part of the reason I felt I should come up with a "plan". Your description of the place makes me yearn for my own experience ... thank you.

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