Day 2 – All the villages
The next day we got an earlier start to do the hike between Vernazza and the next village, Corniglia. This time we went in fully prepared for what we were getting ourselves into hiking wise. We took the train from Monterosso to Vernazza, and then started the hike into Corniglia. This hike was steep too, but not as bad as the hike from the day before.
It had beautiful sea views all the way along, and more stretches of flatter path, which was really nice. We came down into Corniglia, the smallest of all the five villages that sits on a hilltop.
Again, we’d earned some gelato (seeing a pattern here….hehe), so we stopped in and got some (this time I had lemon basil, and Brandon got a scoop each of dark chocolate and mint).
We walked around the small village for a bit, took in some views, and then decided it was time to check out the next village.
Unfortunately the trails that connected Corniglia to the next two villages were both closed, so we had to take the train. We hopped the train from Corniglia to Manarola (the next village over) to go check it out. Manarola was bigger than Corniglia, and had more views of the sea. We hiked up a little ways above the city, and took in the view from the higher vantage point, which – surprise! – was AMAZING.
After snapping some pictures, we decided we’d head over to the final village, Riomaggiore, to get some lunch.
Riomaggiore was, you guessed it, also stunning. We found a place called the Vertical Bar to grab some paninis and yummy drinks while people watching in the heart of Riomaggiore.
After we’d eaten our fill, we hiked up a bunch of stairs to get to a church that had another amazing sea view. We sat on a bench near the church for a few minutes and marveled at the natural beauty surrounding us. Near the church, we found a side trail that was marked “Scenic,” so we decided to explore that. It took us down a steep cliffside, and brought us out right next to the beautiful teal-blue water. The water in Cinque Terre is like nothing I’d ever seen before, the color was so incredible. Our plan had been to grab some groceries from Riomaggiore because its market selection was better than Monterosso’s, but the trail dumped us out right by the train station, so we decided to just grab the train back instead.
When we got back to Monterosso, I remembered that there was a stand right by the train station that was supposed to have the most amazing fried seafood in all of the five villages. It was called Il Bocconcino, and all of the food was cooked to order right in front of you, one order at a time. Brandon decided to get us the “all-in” seafood cone, which had fried calamari, white fish, mussels and prawns in it, and a couple of Italian beers in cans to go. It was SO DELICIOUS!! We sat on a bench looking out at the sea and enjoyed our little seafood feast.
We went back and got showered up and relaxed for a little bit, and then ventured out to find some cheap food for dinner. We figured that sharing a pizza would be a good bet, so we surveyed the restaurant options in town. We didn’t see many that had inexpensive pizza on the menu, but eventually we came across a sign that pointed us up a side road a little ways out of town that advertised pizza on it. We figured we would walk up and check out the prices. When we got to the restaurant, the sandwich board out front had their menu and selection of pizzas on it, which looked good and reasonably priced so we decided to get a table. We ordered our drinks, and then when the waiter came back around to take our order, I opened the menu to the page that listed all of the pizzas. He then informed me that no, they wouldn’t serve pizza (despite the fact that it had been advertised first on the sign down the road, then on the sandwich board out front, AND in their menu with no indication that you could only order it during certain hours). The other menu items were expensive (like 18 euro per person, and outside of our price range), so we said we would just like to pay for our drinks and go. The waitstaff then proceeded to ignore us for 10+ minutes while we sat there awkwardly waiting for the check, even though they were serving all of the people sitting around us. Eventually, Brandon went up to ask for the check. We really just wanted to get out of there so that we could free up our table for other people who would actually pay for dinner! The staff was super rude, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I’m usually not one to leave bad reviews, but I made a TripAdvisor account just to leave one for those guys.
We found a focaccia place (Cinque Terre is also known for its focaccia) that was getting ready to close, so we grabbed a few pieces of that and retreated to home to eat in peace.
Day 3 – The day that didn’t go as planned
We slept in a little, and then got up and made a plan to go on the shorter hike out of Monterosso that we’d forgone on the first day. The hike would lead us to Sant Antonio, the ruins of an ancient monastery and would provide views of all five of the villages. Then we figured we’d hit the beach for a few hours since the weather was good. Once we got up and moving, Brandon was moving pretty slow and said he was having a lot of pain in his back. We both hoped that he’d just slept wrong, and that if we walked for a bit eventually the pain would lighten up. We’d only been out of the house about 10 minutes, and had just made it to the trail head when Brandon said that walking was causing him a lot of pain, and that he needed to go back to the apartment until he felt better. For those of you that know him, you’ll know that this was unusual as he’s usually pretty tough.
When we got back to the apartment, he showed me where it was hurting and how his pain was radiating and we discovered a pretty massive knot in the right lower side of his back. We spent the next 2 hours or so stretching it out, doing some pressure points, and applying heat to try to get him some relief. To both of our surprise, after giving it lots of attention, it finally loosened up enough for him to feel like we could go out again. Though it was tender, he actually felt good enough to go on the hike!
The hike to Sant Antonio was another steep, steep hike. It was one mile, literally straight up flight and flights and flights of stone stairs. So. Many. Stairs. But let me tell you, the view from the top was totally worth it. You could see all five villages perched on the hillside by the sea, and the view was breathtaking. We also trekked around the ruins of Sant Antonio itself, which remain from the 14th century (mind blowing how old it was!).
After taking in our fill of the beautiful views, and snapping a few photos, we hiked back down to salvage what was left of our beach time. We hit up Il Bocconcino again, this time getting some chicken wings and fries (also delicious).
After we were done at the beach, we decided that we would splurge a little and find a seafood feast since it was our last night in Cinque Terre. We walked around and tried to grab a table at a few different places that were all full, but eventually Brandon looked up a different place and was able to get a reservation in short order. We ended up at this restaurant in old town Monterosso, which served up the most epic seafood feast of my life. The appetizer Brandon ordered (which cost more than both of our entrees put together…) featured lobster tails, whole prawns, and white fish cooked perfectly. We were in seafood heaven (as you’ll note from Brandon’s face in the photo below)!! We also ordered some gnocchi (potato dumplings) in red sauce, and some mussels and clams, along with a nice bottle of Chianti. We thoroughly enjoyed our feast, and topped it off with – you guessed it – some gelato on the way back 🙂
Unfortunately, we were departing the next day, so we tucked in for one last night in beautiful Cinque Terre before heading off on our journey to Florence the next day.
Long story short: If you ever get the chance to go to Cinque Terre DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!!!!
To see all of the photos from Cinque Terre, click here.