After my adventurous hike from Corniglia, I was thrilled to have finally made it to Vernazza. This village is the quaintest of the five villages, making it also one of the most touristed. Compared to the other 3 villages I had already visited in Cinque Terre, it felt so crowded. There were a lot more families and people traveling in larger groups in Vernazza.
Strolling down Via Roma, the main street in Vernazza, you’ll pass plenty of gelaterias and shops selling every type of pasta you could imagine, as well as pesto, which was invented in this region. Via Roma opens up onto a large public area called Piazza Marconi. Situated on the harbor, it is a wonderful area where tourists gather to eat pizza, drink wine, and eat gelato. The Piazza is a place to sit and soak up the sun, while taking in views of the church Chiesa di Santa Margherita and the ruins of an old castle. If you are staying in Vernazza overnight, there are several seafood restaurants that I hear are really good. I, sadly enough, do not eat seafood, but if I did, I can’t think of a place to get fresher seafood than right here in Cinque Terre. I sat and enjoyed the piazza for a while, ducked into the church to take a look around, and then went back up to the station and took the train to Monterosso.
The fifth and northernmost town, Monterosso is separated by a long tunnel (there is the new town and the old town). It has the only real beach in Cinque Terre, and though it wasn’t crowded in March, I can imagine in the summer that it’s packed with tourists. There are cars driving through the main area of town, giving it less of a village feel. Funny enough, it was actually kicked out of Cinque Terre in the late ’40s for being too big and lacking in the village feel. Although I can’t find further information on it, I wonder if it was referred to as Quattro Terre then… hmm, just thinking out loud. Obviously it was allowed back in and Cinque Terre as we know it was restored.
Back to Corniglia
So remember how I got lost hiking? As a result of taking that path, I never actually saw Corniglia. There was no question about it- I had to go back. I got off the train in Corniglia and marched up the 382 steps for the second time today. I felt like such a hardcore hiker (just let me live in my bubble for a little bit). I walked into town and saw some great views that I missed before. I went into a little cafe and asked about La Torre, the overlook I had been after. She told me what alleyway to go down. I went there, in the opposite direction than I had gone before, walked up the steps that the Lonely Planet mentioned, which indeed turned out to be only a few steps, and found La Torre! I had to laugh at myself. But I finally found it after all that. From this overlook I could see Manarola and was quite content watching the sun glisten on the water.
Last night in Riomaggiore
I made it back to Riomaggiore shortly before 5 o’clock. I dropped into the hostel‘s office to visit with one of the friendly staff and her cute French bulldog. Two people arrived to share my apartment for the night, and we went for a glass of local wine at Dau Cila down by the harbor. It was a Saturday night, and there was only one other couple sitting by the harbor. It was a quiet night but so enjoyable, and a relaxing way to conclude my stay in Cinque Terre.