For centuries, trails were the only link between the towns and the only way to reach vineyards and vegetable gardens, which in the past, along with fishing, were Cinque Terre's only true economic resource. Even today, trails are the only way to fully explore the true spirit of the Cinque Terre, to discover the area's beauty, and at the same time, to experience the significance of its heritage: a landscape where the handiwork of man has adapted perfectly to nature.
A study undertaken by eminent researchers found that, even as late as 1980, the dry walls throughout Cinque Terre contained more stones than those used to build the Great Wall of China.
Here, man has for centuries toiled to draw land from the sea and, with stone, has made the land usable and protected his world.
Trail n.2 "Blue Trail"
This trail links all the towns in the Cinque Terre (the leg between Riomaggiore and Manarola is called the Via dell'Amore) and is the most popular trail in the whole area. It takes several hours to walk it all, but the effort is well rewarded by one-of-a-kind panoramic views, with classic Mediterranean scenery overhanging the sea, the scent of herbs and flowers, austere cliffs and charming little coves. It is an experience to be enjoyed at leisure; that's why we recommend you break up the hike, and not exclude stopping in one of the towns for some traditional snacks washed down with a local wine.
NOTE: a small fee (€ 3) must be paid to walk this route.
Starting point: Riomaggiore Arrival point: Monterosso
Time: 5 h. Distance: 11 Km Difficulty: easy
The Sanctuary Trail
Agriculture used to be as important in the Cinque Terre as marine activities; it is no coincidence that the Sanctuary Trail (there are five sanctuaries as well, one per town) wanders along the hilltops, testifying to the area's ancient roots.
The trails lead to the sanctuaries of:
Nostra Signora di Soviore - Monterosso
Nostra Signora di Reggio - Vernazza
Nostra Signora delle Grazie e di S. Bernardino - Corniglia
Nostra Signora della Salute - Manarola
Nostra Signora di Montenero - Riomaggiore
Starting point: Monterosso Arrival point: Riomaggiore
Time: 6 h. Distance: 12 Km Difficulty: medium
Trail n.1 "Cinque Terre High Trail"
This trail, which leads along the ridge separating the coast from the inland regions, is considered by more ambitious hikers to be the quintessential Cinque Terre trail. It is a demanding route, but is accessible to everyone. In any case, one can choose to do just one leg of the trail (selecting the most panoramic parts), and combine the hike with a descent along one of the many trails leading to the various villages in the Cinque Terre.
NOTE: the trail is described starting from Portovenere, but we recommend starting from Levanto, given that the climb is easier from that side.
Starting point: Portovenere Arrival point: Levanto
Time: 10 h. Distance: total 40Km (Cinque Terre portion 20 Km) Difficulty: medium