Cinque Terre (Walk Corniglia to Vernazza) - Momboisse Family Adventures October 2019 / Part 5

Painting Doria Castle Vernazza 


We are up early and head downstairs to another hearty breakfast at the Hotel La Spiaggia.  This would be our last day to explore Cinque Terre and we had another full day of hiking ahead of us.

Our plan is to take the train to Corniglia and walk the coast trail to Vernazza.  We used our Cinque Terre Card and hopped on an early train, exiting two stops later in Corniglia.  Trains between the five villages run every 30 minutes in both directions, and the trip between cities is just a few minutes. 

The village of Corniglia, which sits up high on a hill at 100 feet above sea level, is the smallest of all five villages.  We exit the train station, which is at the base of the hill, and climb the stairs to the via Stazione with the rest of the day-trippers.

Right outside the station there is a bus stop.  This is where you catch the bus that takes you to the main area of Corniglia and you avoid having to climb the "Lardarina." 

We, however, are climbing the Lardarina.  Continue walking past the bus stop toward the village which will be on the hill in front of you. When you see the sign for the Lardarina you know you are in the right place.  Follow this path, the train tracks will be below and to the left.  

About 1/4 mile walk later and you arrive at the beginning of the Lardarina, 382 long brick steps that are composed of 33 flights of stairs.  

They zig-zag up
 the hill to the village of Corniglia.  

Below is a picture looking back down
 the stairs toward the train station.  

As you exit the stairs you will be back on via Stazione.  This is the view in Googlemaps.  Just ahead is a sign that reads Centro.  There are two arrows, one pointing to the left (which is where the bus will go and drop off passengers) and one pointing straight ahead.  We are going straight ahead through the narrow alley shown in the picture below.  

Follow this path about 1/4 mile between homes, up a few more flights of stairs, and past Marian shrines built into walls.  

Soon you will see the back of the Church of San Pietro. The Gothic-style exterior was carried out by Comancini master masons from Lake Como using locally sourced brick. 

Keep walking until you come to a gate which leads to the patio at the front entrance.  

We have noticed that many of the
Catholic churches in Cinque Terre
have the same exterior Gothic-style design
 with a rose window centered over the entrance.

The interiors are more Baroque in style with vaulted ceilings. 

Exit the church and walk through the front patio down a flight of stairs and turn left on to via Fieschi, one of the main streets in Corniglia.  

The street sign is on a plaque on the stone wall.

This will take you past a number

 of apartments and restaurants.  

Keep following the stone walk. 

After a short distance you will exit back on to via Stazione 
and a large plaza in the center of the village. This is what it will look like on Googlemaps

Across the street look for the red umbrella's of the Dau Tinola restaurant.  Take the via Fieschi as it continues down the narrow alley to the left of the restaurant.   

Here the via Fieschi takes you past more shops, restaurants, apartments and bed and breakfasts.   

Corniglia is a very small town and we leisurely walked and toured the entire village (not including the initial Lardarina) in about 45 minutes. 

On the via Fieschi the street opens to an enclosed plaza.  

At the back of the plaza is the Chapel of Saint Catherine built in the 18th century.  If you have the time, walk to the back of the chapel for a view of the coast.  

In front of the church is
a monument for those who died
in World War I.

Continue down via Fieschi eventually this stone walk will terminate on the panoramic terrace of Santa Maria, which is named for a church that once stood at that spot. 

From here you have a nice view
of the coast line and the Ligurian Sea. 

Views toward Monterosso (above) and Manarola (below).
As well as this lovely
 agave americana (century plant). 

After enjoying the view, we turn around and follow via Fieschi back the way we came to via Stazione.  At this intersection turn left, pass Lisa's Market and follow the via Stazione out of town.  

You will see a sign that points
to the trail head to Vernazza.
This is where we are headed.

Here is the view back to Corniglia 

 the colorful coastal village we just explored.  

Keep walking on via Stazione about 1/4 mile and up ahead you will find a nice Italian man and the trail head to Vernazza.  Here we show our Cinque Terre Card which permits us to walk the trail. 

As I said in an earlier blog post, we purchased this pass ahead of our trip for €29 per person which was good for two days. It also gave us unlimited train rides between towns. This googlemap shows the position of the trail head from above. 

We will be hiking the center section of the Blue Trail that begins in Riomaggiore and ends in Monterosso.  Only two sections of the Blue Trail are currently open.  We hiked the first one yesterday from Vernazza to Monterosso.  This section from Corniglia to Vernazza is a little over 2 miles. But don't believe the nice Italian man when he tells you it only takes one hour.  

Walking this section from Corniglia is the easier of the two options.  When starting this hike in Vernazza you will be hiking up hill 500 feet of elevation on uneven stairs for about one mile. From this direction we are hiking down hill on uneven stairs for one mile. 

This googlemap position shows the terrain of the sentiero Azzuro (Blue trail) and its relation to the continuation of via Stazione.  

Basically from this point on just follow the trail.
 Up the side of the mountain.
 Through narrow passageways. 

Past olive groves owned and tended to by local farmers.  

Periodically there would be a peak at the sea.
But pay attention to the path,
as there is not always a railing along the trail.  

Another agave americana plant.
  I thought these were
native to the America's,
hence the name.
They thrive in this climate.  

Then we are rewarded with this view back to Corniglia. 

Just like hiking the Big Sur coastline.  

I am not going to say you can't get lost on this trail.  But is it highly unlikely that you would.  Every few hundred yards there is a sign that marks where you are on the trail.  If you go more than 15 minutes without seeing one you might want to back track to one and start over.  

So as not to be left out of climbing stairs from Corniglia we have a few sets to get to the top of the hill.  This is what those who start this hike from Vernazza face for one straight mile up. 

90 minutes in, we are at the half way point. 

Leo's Lodge and the Bar Gabbiano, you can find it on airbnb. Seems we got here before anyone was awake.  

So we continue on as we know that the
 bars are open in Vernazza! 

Olives being harvested. 

Up ahead we begin our descent on
the uneven staircase to Vernazza. 

This goes on for a long long time.  

Still descending. 

They seem so fresh as
they ascend these stairs.

This is a challenge for those ascending and descending.

Thank goodness - a flat straight away with railing.  

Looking toward Monterosso below.

More stairs.

A rest point before dropping down into Vernazza.  

We arrive at the trail head station
 on the outskirts of Vernazza.
Those hikers leaving from Vernazza
to hike to Corniglia must stop here and
show their Cinque Terre Pass. 

Beautiful view of the Belforte Tower.  This is part of the Doria Castle and the symbol of Vernazza.  We will have the opportunity to tour this later in the day.

More stairs. 

The Doria Castle was built as a lookout to protect the village. The first historical references to this edifice are from the 13th century.  The picture below shows one of the two round towers that have survived the years.   

Just a few more stairs.
In the distance below 
is the Church of San Francisco.

As we drop into town we get a view of
 the train station below. 

The trail winds trough some apartment and pops out

on the via Roma right next to the
Farmacia and directly across from the
trail head that leads to Monterosso.

Here is the Googlemaps location. 

Now we will explore Vernazza. Make a left turn and pass a few shops and restaurants before coming to this location on Googlemaps.  Turn left in front of the gelatera toward a large hole in the stone wall. 

On October 25, 2011 a flash flood stormed down via Roma. It devastated the shops and restaurants along the way, covering the street with 13 feet of mud.  

Before the storm of 2011, there was a small hole in the stone wall here that allowed for rain water to flow out to sea. This storm however blew a huge hole in the stone. Large enough that residents and tourists can now walk directly to the beach on the other side of the wall.    

The area is roped off, but everyone was stepping over the barrier.  It appeared safe, so we did too.

This is what it looks like from the beach side.  

Time for some lunch.  We walk back through the hole and turn left again on via Roma and walk all the way to the Harbor Square at the end. There are many options for dining.  

We settle on Trattoria Gianni Franzi with tables at the breakwater edge of the Liguarian Sea under the yellow, blue and red umbrellas. 

After lunch we explore the beach front and the Church of St. Margherita.  

The entrance to this church is off the wharf area shown in the picture above.  You may also see this from above on this Googlemap

The church of St. Margherita was built in 1318 by the Magistri Antelami who were specialists in carpentry and masonry from the 10th to the 16th centuries.  It was built over the remains of a church previously constructed during the 11th century.  

The sanctuary light is lit,
reminding us that Jesus is present. 

As we leave the church we walk straight across the Harbor Plaza.  We are looking for the entrance to the Doria Castle.  

The location is on the Harbor Plaza between Gianni Franzi (pink) and al Castello (yellow). 

This is the location on Googlemaps

More stairs. 

Keep your eye out for signs,
pointing up more stairs. 

The cost at the time was 1.5.

Though climbing the tower is not allowed, the views from the top of the castle fortress is worth the climb.  

Straight down. 

View toward Montessoro shown above.  

The view above and below is back toward Vernazza. 

After the castle, we descend the stairs and turn right on via Roma.  Walk this past the Farmacia to this very tiny chapel of Santa Marta.  

Less than a block up the via Roma is the train station.  We took the train back to Monterosso for a rest before our last evening in Italy.  

Our last evening we had dinner at  l' Tortuga  at the foot of St. Cristoforo Hill.

 Delightful evening. 

Tomorrow we will take the train to Civitavecchia (Rome) to connect with our 11 day Princess cruise of the Grand Mediterranean.  Salute! 

Next post Kotor Montenegro Part 6
Monterosso al Mare Part 1  
Manarola Part 2
Riomaggiore Part 3
Hike Vernazza to Monterosso Part 4

All photos by L. A. and R. M. Momboisse