Yesterday I went hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza in the Cinque Terre. The guidebooks say it takes two hours; it took me an hour and 10 minutes. Just sayin’.
You can also walk from Vernazza to Monterosso, the other way round, and the same timing applies. I couldn’t find much information on hiking between Monterosso and Vernazza so thought I’d put your minds at rest as to what to expect, and how to make the trek as fun as possible if you fancy having a go.
When I hiked in September 2014 a few of the Cinque Terre trails were closed for safety, including the famous Via dell’Amore between Manarola and Riomaggiore. Manarola to Corniglia was also closed, so I couldn’t do the 24km full track. Shame. I did manage Monterosso to Vernazza though.
I got a train to Monterosso from where I was staying in Manarola (10 minutes / €2) had a look around and then hiked back to Vernazza .
The terrain between Monteresso and Vernazza
The terrain between Monterosso and Vernazza was varied. It’s known as one of the easier routes but the 100+ steps at the beginning in Monterosso dispelled that rumour for me. Five minutes in and my left knee was clicking with every step I climbed. That was the toughest part of the whole route though, and only lasted about 15 minutes. My heart rate was up and I feared for all the wheezing 50+ers I was passing up the steps.
From then on the Monterosso to Venezza terrain varied from comfortable mud tracks to two-foot stair leaps and everything in between, but none so tough as that first stretch.
You can take the path at your own pace. Dotted along the path people were stopping for air / views / water / heart pains and waved you along with a friendly ‘bonjourno’. There’s no rush and it’s nice to stop for people to go past you – a great excuse for a rest too.
Every so often you’ll see medic signs that pace your way. There are 25 along the route and they give you details of your coordinates and the emergency services number. Probably a good idea to take note of the number, just in case.
Make sure to take plenty of water – I saw some right sweaty beasts on the way round. You don’t want to get dehydrated, or sun stroke. I’d heard a rumour there were water fountains along the track, but I never saw one. I completed the track at about 4pm and it was absolutely roasting. Every so often you’d find a shady part to cool down, but most of it was uncovered, unsheltered trail so make sure you bring some sun lotion too.
Look out points
You’re on the coast, the very edge of Italy, so 90% of the trail makes for a perfect look out point, but there are a few key look out points along the path. Between medic post 11 and 12 you’ll find a great picnic bench where you can sit and have a snack. Everyone was passing the clued up Spaniards that were sat there with a bottle of wine and foccacia bread with a look of pure envy.
At medic point number 15 there’s a love lock post, which if you’re after a romantic spot along the way could do the job.
The views are absolutely stunning all the way so make sure you have enough charge on your camera or phone. I couldn’t actually stop taking photos on the way round. Coming into Vernazza was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t say that lightly.
This track is normally €7.50 to walk – to help pay for the conservation of the Cinque Terre National Park – but seeing as quite a few of the paths were closed they weren’t charging at all when I went. If you do need to buy a pass you can do it at either end and they’ll check as you pass through.
If you’re of normal fitness and ability you’ll be fine on the track. If you’re a bit worried, start the other way from Vernazza to Monterosso where the first five minutes were a bit more forgiving and see how you get on.