“The Cinque Terre” or five lands, takes its name from the five tiny fishing villages: Monterosso al Mare (the most northerly), Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore (the most southerly). It has recently been designated a World Heritage site. Just a few miles north of “The Cinque Terre” is a very different world; the chic resorts of Portofino, Camogli and Santa Margherita, once the playground of the rich and famous. These days it is much less exclusive and everyone comes to enjoy the picturesque towns, idyllic harbors, National Parks, medieval architecture and stunning vistas.
Day 1: We stroll through the cosmopolitan streets of Santa Margherita one of the better-known resort towns on the Gulf of Tigullio. Its streets are lined with an eclectic mixture of grand villas, imposing turn-of-the-century residential blocks, and quaint fishermen's houses. This was once a winter hideaway for writers and artists during the 1920's. Our walk takes us through small villages and woods to the elegant resort of Portofino. Take time to visit Castello Brown, where Enchanted April was filmed or walk out to the lighthouse for stunning views and good gelato.
Day 2: Today we start the day with a short train ride to the picturesque town of Camogli. Sitting on the Golfo Paradiso Camogli is an old sea town home to both fishing and merchant vessels. Its name is derived from Casa Moglie (home of wives) as the men were almost always away at sea. The narrow streets of Camogli are lined by five and six-storey, colorfully-frescoed buildings adorned with porticoes and balconies. We have time to look around this charming seaside village before heading off for our walk.
The trail south from Camogli leads uphill between high stone walls and olive groves to the village of San Rocco. Our trail starts to head downhill to Punta Chiappa from where you have excellent views as far as Portovenere and the coast beyond. We can have lunch a tiny trattoria at the water’s edge before taking the boat back to Santa Margherita/Portofino. We have the option of more walking or boating in the afternoon.
Day 3: The walk takes us through Portofino Natural Park, a unique area on the coast which is entirely undisturbed by modern development. Looking back, you can easily see Genova and, on a clear day, the glaciers of the Alps sparkle in the distance. Nearby, remnants of bunkers and pillboxes remain from the Nazi occupation of the Italian peninsula.
The trail passes through chestnut woods and follows wide dirt paths past a series of curious stone monoliths called Pietre Strette. From here the trail heads downhill through the woods to the 12th century abbey of San Fruttuoso, accessible only by foot or by boat. We can have lunch at a beach-side trattoria before taking a visit to the Abbey. In the late afternoon we can head back to Santa Margherita by boat. We leave you on your own tonight to explore Santa Margherita.
Day 4: After breakfast we take a train ride down the coast to Framura where the trail begins. The walk in the morning takes us far off the tourist trail along coastal paths and through shady pine woods. This area is just as beautiful as “The Cinque Terre” but without the crowds, We can stop in Bonossola or Levanto for lunch before continuing on to our hotel which is situated in Monterosso the first of “The Cinque Terre” villages. It is a lively little town, popular with Italians and visitors alike. We will meet in the early evening to visit a local enoteca where we will taste some of the regions excellent white wines.
Day 5: Today we do the celebrated walk along the path that links the five villages. The Apennine Mountains drop dramatically into the sea and “The Cinque Terre” have been dug precariously into gullies that allowed footholds into the mountain face. Over the centuries the slopes have been terraced and now produce very fine olive oil and white wines. The walk weaves through these terraces offering spectacular views over the bay and the villages.
The section of the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, the second village is the steepest and by far the most challenging section of the day. The coastline is steep and dramatic most of the landscape being terraced with plunging drops to the sea below. Vernazza is unique, as it is home to the only natural port of “The Cinque Terre” and, as one would expect, the harbor has been the focus of life in these villages for centuries. From here we can head onto the other villages; Corniglia set high on a promontory, then Manarola and Riomaggiore. Transfer back to Monterosso by train.
Day 6: We start the day with a train transfer to the last of “The Cinque Terre” - Riomaggiore. The walk starts with a long climb out of Riomaggiore to the church and sanctuary of Madonna di Monte Nero. This is a fine place to stop for a break on terrace overlooking the sea. The trail then heads into the pine woods and continues to climb to the small village of Campiglia, where we will stop for lunch. From here it is all downhill to Portovenere, one of the loveliest towns on the Riviera, where we will stay for the next two nights.
Day 7: The last day starts with a boat ride across the Gulf of the Poets to Lerici. The Gulf was so named after the English Romantic poets who lived here. Byron is said to have swum from Lerici and Shelley was drowned here and cremated on the beach. The last walk takes us along isolated pathways through olive groves and abandoned farm houses to Tellaro where we will stop for lunch. In the evening we will have our farewell dinner at one of the town's best restaurants, seated on a terrace overlooking the magnificent gulf.
Day 8: Transfer to La Spezia railway station for onward connections to Genova/Milan.
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Europe Italy Outdoor: Land Rambler Walking Tours