- Friday 12th September, 2014
- Distance 3.6km, 1.5hr
I took a 6am direct train from Milan to Monterosso Al Mare and arrived just after 9am. It was a very last minute decision to come and hike the Cinque Terre so I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been… I was wearing my Teva Sandals (but to be honest their grip is probably better than my last pair of Salomon’s that I wore out on the Portuguese camino!) and got increasingly worried as I saw all the groups of hikers wearing hiking boots and carrying hiking poles – in hindsight, I too recommend boots or good shoes and hiking poles 🙂
I found the tourist information centre where I was hoping to get a map of the trail and also to buy my day pass to enter the national park. The tourist info centre is opposite the beach a few doors down from the train station and the opening hours on the window said 9am – 7pm. It was still closed so I went for a stroll along the beach and marvelled at how sparkling blue the sea was, and how hot it was for a September morning. I came back and it was still closed so I walked around the beautiful, colourful town a little and then when I came back to the tourist information centre again, it was open 🙂
The man in the info centre was very helpful. He spoke great English, gave me a map of the trail and showed me how to get to the alternative path once I arrived in Corniglia. He also told me to buy my day pass from the checkpoint/ticket box at the beginning of the trail. As I was only going to be taking one train (at the end of the day from Riomaggiore back to Monterosso Al Mare) it wasn’t worth buying the pass that included trains for €12, rather I should stick to the day pass without trains for €7.50. A single journey train ticket between the villages is €2.10.
I followed the road along the coast for about 200 metres before I saw a sign for Vernazza pointing right. Around the corner I came across the checkpoint and got worried again when I saw the signs saying no sandals. I showed the lady at the counter my shoes and she didn’t say I couldn’t walk the trail, so I thought to myself that I would give it a try and see how I went after 10 minutes or so. I bought the day pass from here and off I went… in between groups of dozens of other walkers!
The trail was actually quite slippery due to the overnight rainfall (the lady at the checkpoint had mentioned this), and there’s no way I would want to walk it if it was actually raining. It started with a series of quite narrow steps (hard to pass oncoming walkers) and was quite uneven and rocky in parts, as well as slippery. There was a hand railing for some parts and not for other parts where you thought it would’ve been nice to have one! There was quite a bit of forest cover on this stretch which was nice because the sun was getting quite warm, but the downside was that these patches were very muddy and slippery.
I was very surprised by the number of people I saw going in both directions, both young and old. I must have passed or been passed by at least 50-60 before arriving in Vernazza. And the views, of course, were absolutely stunning!