Stairway to Eden: Hiking Cinque Terre Blue Trail
I came to this picturesque part of Italy to hike the Cinque Terre Blue Trail. Little did I know I’d fall in love with the region, leave a piece of my heart in the charming seaside village of Riomaggiore, and be swept away to Eden on Earth.
On my second day in Cinque Terre I awoke early, excited and emotional. Today I would be checking off an item on my bucket list – hiking Cinque Terre Blue Trail. After a quick caffé and energy fueled breakfast of eggs, toast, and fresh fruit I headed to the train station’s tourist office. Here I purchased my one-day Cinque Terre pass. The pass, for €7 (in 2015), allowed free train rides throughout the five villages of Cinque Terre. As well as entry onto the Blue Trail.
Related Post: I Left A Piece of my Heart in Riomaggiore
I had been prepared to hike at least the portion from Riomaggiore to Manarola. But alas, that section was closed down. After horrible landslides on the trails a few years back, there has been rolling closures due to maintenance and safety issues. And turned out, at the time of my visit the only section of the trail open was from Monterosso Al Mare to Vernazza.
After a fleeting feeling of loss, I perked up and realized it’s still happening. Regardless of the section I hike, I would still be hiking this amazing and iconic trail. I jumped on the next train heading north to Monterosso and sat watching morning awake over the Mediterranean Sea.
I decided to explore a bit of Monterosso before I headed to the trail. It felt vastly different than my charming and wee Riomaggiore. Monterosso is larger, and while it was still full of history, it was almost overshadowed by its beach resort vibe. But after exploring for a while I realized I better hit the trail. I quickly grabbed a delicious and fresh focaccia and cold drink before I started out.
As I eagerly approached the trail, at the far side of town, I realized I should have started out earlier. The mid-day sun was beating down on my bare shoulders and the small of my back, beneath my backpack, was already beading with sweat. The temperature was quickly rising to the 30 degree Celsius which was the norm since I arrived in Europe a few weeks earlier.
I slowed my pace. Not only to reduce overheating, but to make sure I relished in every moment of this hike. Hiking the entire Cinque Terre Blue Trail, connecting the five villages, is 11 kilometres and takes approximately 5 hours. But I had a feeling this section was going to take me awhile. With these sweeping views of Cinque Terre I couldn’t help but stop and snap photos, hoping to capture and ounce of the beauty this incredible place holds.
We, I along with the scattering of fellow hikers, trudged up and up. Along narrow passages. Some seemingly so near the edge you had to be careful not to stagger. At other times we ascended crumbling old stairs cut into the hillside. Sometimes I felt wrapped in a dense forest, while other areas felt wide open as we passed through long run vineyards that hugged the hillside.
I stopped for a while once I reached a plateau of sorts. Sitting under a stretch of trees off the trail. I tried to cool down, threw back some water and munched on some snacks. And there before me stretched the deep blue Mediterranean, and in the distance I could just make out the fleeting view of Monterossa’s yellow topped beach umbrellas. An older couple passing by stopped to enjoy my view and smiled to me and said, “Great choice.” It most certainly was.
I continued on, stopping periodically to relax, cool down, and savour the generous panoramas. I was impressed by everyone I met on the trail. People of all walks of life, young and old, and from all over the world. And everyone was unbelievably kind and unable to hold in their awe.
I still remember the elation when I rounded the last bend and spotted Vernazza down below. Almost there! Everyone around seemed to breathe a slight cheer. Making my way slowly down the hillside towards Vernazza I realized just how magnificent Cinque Terre really is. Full of history, boundless colour, charming seaside villages, some perched high on cliffs, and linking them together was this magnificent trail. Forged by those who came before us, and enjoyed to this day by countless others.
I wandered Vernazza for a while, and stopped at the harbour to sit on a bench and enjoy a gelato. Everyone, from those shop keepers to tourists frolicking in the refreshing water, all just oozed pure joy. I couldn’t help but ponder, this is the happiest place I’ve ever had the privilege to explore. Like Eden on Earth.
• Buy a Cinque Terre Pass
• Bring water and snacks (at least a liter of water)
• Take it slow and enjoy the views
• Start out first thing in the morning
Have you enjoyed hiking Cinque Terre Blue Trail? I’d love to hear your story!
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