After four nights in Rome, it was on to Vernazza. The Cinque Terre was the first place I decided to go when I booked my ticket. As a result, I knew plenty about it and now that I’m beyond it I’ve realized I should do a bit of reading about the other places I am planning to go!
The view alone was the reason I decided to go to Vernazza
I had a really pleasant train ride from Rome to La Spezia (the closest major train station to the five tiny fishing villages). The only downer was hauling my stupidly heavy pack through the train station, up and down steps and trying to get it in the rack above my seat. I knew when I packed it that it was too heavy, but I couldn’t work out what to cull. The culling has begun in earnest.
Vernazza is one of five very small fishing villages in the north west of Italy, on the Ligurian sea. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site known for hiking and fishing, and thanks mostly to an American travel writer named Rick Steves, it is unashamedly touristy. There are yanks everywhere.
Literally everyone I met that was not running a business was American. Most were retired, which I believe to be Steves’ key demographic. It didn’t matter. Everyone was lovely. It was kind of hard not to be in a place that looks like that.
The general idea of the Cinque Terre is that you base yourself in one village and hike between them. Or, as a day tripper, start at the bottom and work your way up, then move on to Genoa. The stretch between the five towns is just under 20km. There is a local train if you’re not a walker or if the weather turns. As it turned out, two of four trails were closed when I was there, due to instability after a mudslide.
The first morning I walked from Vernazza north to Monterosso – the most northern town of the five. This was apparently the most difficult trail. I didn’t think it was terribly hard, but it certainly wouldn’t have passed Australian safety standards. There were a lot of areas on the edge of steep cliffs with no handrails or fences.
The trail actually reminded me a lot of the Great Ocean Road. As you come around the bend towards Monterosso, it feels a lot like driving into Lorne.
Walking to Monterosso reminded me of the drive to Lorne
The trail took about an hour and a half – traffic was good – I got going at about 8:30 and didn’t see anyone for the first half an hour – other than locals tending to their veggie gardens and olive groves over their morning pipe. They love it when you say good morning in Italian. The worse your accent, the more they love it.