Well. We have officially survived the hiking in Cinque Terre. When I was telling people about the whole Cinque Terre hiking-thing I was like It’s European hiking so it’s just sort of like walking around. And then you drink wine.
I was totally right about the wine drinking thing and totally wrong about the hiking thing. Marcus and I do zero hiking in America but at some points the paths we were trekking had me seriously concerned about broken limbs and/or whether or not our life insurance was in order. In my heart of hearts, I do not feel that this is the norm but nevertheless We Pressed On!
Since some of the paths are CLOSED (there was a mudslide in 2012 that took out several parts of the main trail between Riomaggiore and Monterosso) and others were “closed” we were a little creative with our plans. That being said, even with some segments of the main trail shut down there is still plenty of rigorous hiking to do!
Even though we don’t really own any formal hiking gear (boots, backpacks, pants, etc.) we did load up Marcus’ backpack with about 2.5 liters of water (we refilled the 1.5 liter bottle at every opportunity) and some granola bars. On Saturday morning I also discovered a giant length of decent rope that Marcus had purchased for our Pamplona trip (like a gazillion yards) to use as a clothesline. So we were ready for some adventure.
On Friday, we hiked the 531, which is the “high” path that connects Riomaggiore and Manarola. The main path takes 20 minutes and is allegedly easy, but alas it was closed. This path? One hour including rugged ascent and descent!
Our other trek was the main path (the 2) between Monterosso and Vernazza. This is the only officially open part of the trail and is apparently also the hardest. Between the ascending, and the portions of the path that were one person wide without a guard rail and sheer cliff beneath, there was plenty to keep us alert. That aside, the views were beautiful (obviously).
Today, we kicked off our morning with a two part hike of the 593 loop to Madonna di Monte Nero. Our first ascent ended after 30 minutes of heavy climbing (or as it was described to us, Up, always you are going up.) when we confronted this situation.
We descended and re-ascended in the reverse via a straight 60 minute stair climb for something like 1600 feet.
This is first descent.
Also, all of the paths are marked with a trail marker that looks like this every once in awhile.
Sometimes it appears with great frequency. Other times, it vanishes.
During our hikes, Marcus and I would play a fun game called Hiking Path Or Private Farm? where absent a trail marker we would guess whether we were turning onto the correct path or if we were walking straight into someone’s private plot of farmland (there are just tons of little personal gardens and farms on the hills of Cinque Terre!).
Anyway, after we survived all of this insane climbing sometimes on stairs, sometimes on boulders and sometimes on things that are hard to quantify other than as “climbable,” we saw this.
Our second hike of the day was on the 2 from Vernazza to Corniglia. Technically this path is “closed.”
Honestly, I think this was probably the safest path we hiked on the entire time, even considering this, which I believe was supposed to be the most dangerous part.
So much room to walk on the trail and even sometimes handrails!
Lest you think that we were freestyling on our own, we passed probably 20-30 other hikers. This view = also not bad.
And then we got gelato in Corniglia as we sort of aimlessly searched for the train station, crossed that town off our list, and hopped back on a train to Riomaggiore to watch the sunset.
I told Marcus that we are officially hikers now. I am really so proud of us for being able to hike to each town. It was a real physical challenge and an accomplishment, sort of in the same way that crossing a finish line feels like a victory. I highly doubt that we’ll be planning more hiking vacations any time soon, but this was the perfect interlude between art and…more art.