Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Hiking the Cinque Terre...and then some

Hiking the Cinque Terre…those GORGEOUS five fishing villages get all the love, but other wicked hard and breathtakingly beautiful hiking options exist along the Ligurian Sea. My weekend trip with my brother, Fratello Kevino introduced me to a new one. He’s been living in Italy for the past three years so he had a perfect (and oh-so-painful) place to start our trek. Bring. It.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

I did a stint hiking the Cinque Terre in 2010. Loved it. I was determined to return. Especially since I didn’t get to complete the jaunt – heavy rain left the trail closed from Corniglia to Manarola.

Fratello Kevino started us in Levanto. He previously hiked that stretch en route to the Cinque Terre. Always up for a challenge, I was all in. And, a challenge it was.

Hike 1: Levanto to Monterosso al Mare

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Our starting point: Levanto.

Distance: Approx. 4 miles / 6.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: 1k feet / 305 meters
Terrain: Rough, unpaved
Difficulty: Hard
Time: The tourist office estimate a 2.5 hour. We cleared it in 1.5 hours.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Beautiful. The hike was all coastline with a ton of incline, then a steep descent. The amazing thing came with cresting near the end of the hike. You round a bend and the entire coastline sprawls before you. You could actually make out all five Cinque Terre villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Fratello Kevino said it was his magic moment hiking the region. Magic it was. And, even better – the hike was less crowded than the popular 5 Terre route. But, that was our next move. Andiamo!

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Monterosso al Mare Fuel Break!

Hiking the Cinque Terre...and then some

We madea quick food stop in Monterosso. Okay, okay, we got a glass of wine, too. GirlsGottaHike but ALSO GirlsGottaDrink – everything can be a priority (maybe I can have it all!) The Cinque Terre has it’s own white wine DOC – seems criminal to pass ‘er up. So, with a glass apiece we split a mozzarella, tomato, tuna plate and a dish of pesto bruschetta.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Hike 2: Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza, Hiking the Cinque Terre

Distance: Approx. 2.5 miles / 4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Approx. 620 feet / 189 meters
Terrain: Rough, unpaved – stairs in parts
Difficulty: Hard
Time: Tourist office called this one at 2 hours. We cleared it in 1 hour.

Hiking the Cinque Terre...and then some

Holy stair climb, batman. Feeling our mojo and all fueled up from our quick lunch break, we pushed hard. One note I have to make, if you are planning on hiking the Cinque Terre, know that it’s not an easy Sunday stroll. These are hard climbs on rough terrain. It’s an amazing experience, but I suspect a lot of people don’t enjoy it because they aren’t prepared – the looks on people’s faces along the way said as much.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Onward: We knew the hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore was still closed from the 2011 floods that devastated the region (huge shout out to the volunteers, donors, and everyone who participated in the relief efforts – thanks for getting us back to hiking the Cinque Terre). But, we were determined to hit Corniglia to Manarola before the sun started to set. So, when we made it to Veranzza we cruised straight on through (after the obligatory photo stop).

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Hike 3: Vernazza to Corniglia

Distance: Approx. 2.5 miles / 4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Approx. 425 feet / 130 meters
Terrain: Rough, unpaved – stairs in parts
Difficulty: Hard
Time: Tourist office called this one at 1.5 hours. We cleared it in 1 hour.

Hiking the Cinque Terre at Corniglia

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto
More stairs. Fratello Kevino wasn’t getting enough of a workout so he ran those bad boys. Oh the looks. People didn’t know what to make of him.

We arrived in Corniglia about 5 p.m. ready to push on, but were disappointed to learn that in fact the trail was closed. Foiled again. Disappointed, we licked our wounds at an adorable little enoteca toasting our 4 hours, 10 miles (I know, the numbers don’t add up to 10 miles, but those numbers don’t account for walking through the villages to the start of the next hike), and 2,200 feet of gain. My legs were shaking.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Corniglia is small and sleepy; like all the villages it exudes magic. After our toast we took the train to Manarola for a seafood feast. I just fell in love with this village in 2010.

Dinner in Manarola

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

We ordered the biggest carafe available of vino della casa bianco, split a lobster pasta dish, and devoured a plate of fish stew each. Oh, the fresh catch.

Hiking the Cinque Terre...and then some

Try it! Ristorante Marina Piccola Via Lo Scalo 16 19010 Manarola, Cinque Terre, Tel. +39 0187 920923

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

We watched the sunset over the water, then got a train back to Rapallo. Magic. Pure magic.

Insert Rocky Theme: Hiking the Cinque Terre and Levanto

We were trashed. Not wine-induced, but an exhausted, hiking the Cinque Terre + one type of trashed.

It was a good day. Can’t wait to put on repeat for next summer. And, maybe then I can FINALLY do the elusive hike from Corniglia to Manarola.

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Song Pick! Rocky Theme – Eye of the Tiger, Survivor

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