This post is written by Katie, about her travel in Europe after IROS 2015.
After a late night due to missed train connections, I decided to sleep in and leave Ostello Corniglia at 10:30am (you have to leave from 10:30am to 3pm if you are staying in a dorm). I had rained significantly overnight, and was still overcast and threatening rain, so I was happy enough with a late start.
I opted to do the Rick Steves’ recommended hike from Manarola to Corniglia via Volastra, but in reverse. This hike was supposed to be one that is safe and okay to do in the rain, so I figured this would be a good hike for today. Plus, all of the lower, blue trails were closed today – two indefinitely and two for the day due to weather.
I wandered Corniglia first, following the Rick Steves’ city walking tour. The touristy street in Corniglia is actually pretty nice and ends at a panoramic view point. That was a nice way to start my day.
Corniglia from the far side of town
The church in Corniglia
Main alleyway in Corniglia
Start of the 377 stairs to the train station
I found the trailhead behind the church in Corniglia and started the upward climb. The upward climb was intense, but not unreasonable or unsafe, and provided some nice views of Corniglia.
Trail head for the hike to Manarola via Volastra
Corniglia in the distance
The trail was a bit slippery at points
Especially when it started to rain
Another view of Corniglia – this hike must just be amazing in good weather!
Once the trail split and I headed across to Volastra, the trail mostly stopped climbing and ventured through piny woods. The trail eventually left the woods and meandered through a random backyard. This was when the trail became amazingly beautiful. The views of the vineyards, Manarola, and Corniglia were spectacular even with the overcast sky. I can only imagine how awesome they must be on a clear day!
Trail split to head towards Volastra instead of higher into the mountains. This is where the trail levelled out.
A view of Corniglia
This part of the hike meandered through vineyards
Looking over the vineyards back at Corniglia and its train station
Wandering right against the vines
First view of Manarola from the trail
The trail abruptly ended at a church and picnic tables in Volastra. I refilled my water at a public fountain, wandered through the small village, and then began the long climb down to Manarola. This climb was down many, many rock stairs for a long time, and then the Manarola Panorama route broke off to the right. Rick Steves had mentioned it (making it seem less official then it actually ended up being), so I decided to take it. This was an excellent decision, because although a few parts of the path were perilous, it offered spectacular views of Manarola.
The church in Volastra
These (olive?) trees near Volastra had nets to catch their fruits/vegetables
The path from Volastra to Manarola was completed comprised of stairs
The turn-off for the panorama route to Manarola (which I took)
Manarola from above
Manarola is just beautiful, even in the rain
Once in Manarola, I explored a cemetery and then explored the marina and the town on another Rick Steves city tour. Manarola is a beautiful city, and I would have preferred to stay in it a bit longer.
Cemetery high on the rocks. I assume burying bodies is pretty impossible in Cinque Terre due to both rocky land and flooding
Manarola from the cemetery
This landslide is one of the reasons why the coastal path from Corniglia to Manarola is closed
The coastal path from Manarola to Corniglia is closed indefinitely
Manarola from the small part of coastal path open near the town
Boats pulled up due to bad weather in Manarola’s port
After finishing the walking tour of Manarola, I saw a sign saying it was just 1 mile (or kilometre? it was unclear) to Riomaggiore. Although I remember looking at that trail earlier from the Manarola Panorama trail and saying I would not do it, I made the poor decision to try it since otherwise I would have to wait over an hour for the next train to Riomaggiore. I should have just stayed and enjoyed Manarola for one more hour.
Instead, I decided to hike the trail over the mountain. Yes, it was tiring. But what really irked me was how dangerous the trail was. With the heavy rain the night before, many of the rocks were slippery and the ground was loose – I was really scared I would slip and fall off a cliff multiple times even going up the mountain (and usually going up is easier in terms of safety).
Crazy high view of Manarola after climbing the unsafe Manarola to Riomaggiore trail
Riomaggiore from the unsafe Manarola to Riomaggiore trail
A sample of one of the safer parts of the high trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore
I struggled through the hike, and was happy to eventually reach Riomaggiore. It’s not an impressive looking town from the mountains, but it is a fun town to explore. I picked up fish and chips as well as pizza on the main tourist street, and went to sit on the rocks at the beach for a while. Riomaggiore is actually a pretty nice village – but it is a shame that both of its lower, easier trails are indefinitely closed.
Riomaggiore was very pretty from sea level
Riomaggiore’s stone beach, with another closed trail in the background
I caught the 7:19pm train back to Corniglia, climbed the steps to the city, and enjoyed a beer at the panoramic overlook before returning to Ostello Corniglia to work in the common area a bit before calling it a night.
From the trails I hiked, I could see many other trails closed – not temporary, but seemingly indefinitely. No work seemed to be going into reopening most of these trails. This seems to be a shame – so many affluent tourists travel to this area, perfectly willing to pay large amounts for lodging and food. Clearly the issue for the national park can not be money – the visitors would surely be willing to pay to have many of these easier trails opened again. The hard part of making the trails has been completed (and many of these are not simple trails – they have many bridges and boardwalks) – so maintenance and repairs should not require an unreasonable amount of effort and money.