Throwback Thursday Cinque Terre Edition: Manarola to Riomaggore

One of the things I was most looking forward to on our trip was hiking between towns in Cinque Terre.  The day we arrived in Manarola I wasn’t entirely convinced it would happen. We arrived in the midst of an epic storm complete with high winds, pelting and torrential rain, and thunder and lightening. Everything was closed. Everything. Restaurants, shops, trails, everything.

Thankfully we woke up the next day to considerably better weather and a chance to hit the trails. The trail from Manarola to Corniglia was closed due to previous mudslides, so we opted to hike from Manarola to Riomaggore.

Beccara Trail #531 (High Trail)
Distance: 2.5 km
Estimated Elevation: I’d guess around 250m

Well, in the great tradition of me doing absolutely no research before going somewhere, I failed to realize that the easy, ocean-side stroll aptly named the Via Dell’Amore, has been closed for years leaving only the upper route between the towns open. Now, I like a good hike, but when we embarked on our journey I had only read about the easy route and had prepared myself (and my poor boyfriend) for that option alone.  Sidenote: for a great piece on the Via Dell’Amore and it’s progress, check this out.

What we encountered instead of a leisurely stroll was a slick set of steps carved into the side of the mountain dividing the two towns. I could instantly see why trails are closed when it’s raining. On a day following heavy rain, the stones were still incredibly slippery, even for suitable trail shoes. As a point of comparison (suitable only for Vancouverites), the trail’s construction when hiking from Manarola to Riomaggiore was surprisingly similar to the Grouse Grind. Think steps, steps and more steps. The key difference, however, is that there are actually views along the way.

Roughly the route you take.
Roughly the route we took.
Our starting point, atop Manarola.
Our starting point, atop Manarola.
I have to say, I didn't anticipate this part of Italy being so...green.
I have to say, I didn’t anticipate this part of Italy being so…green.
I mean seriously, look at all that GREEN.
I mean seriously, look at all that GREEN.
Looking back towards Manarola and Corniglia.
Looking back towards Manarola and Corniglia.
Oh look, there's the remnants of that easy trail I thought I was supposed to be on.
Oh look, there’s the remnants of that easy trail I thought we’d be on.
Even a little double rainbow for good luck.
Even a little double rainbow for good luck.
Coming in to Riomaggiore.
Coming in to Riomaggiore.
Celebratory de-hydrating "hydration" (i.e. prosecco)
Celebratory de-hydrating “hydration” (i.e. prosecco)

What can I say about our first foray onto the Cinque Terre trails?

1.This particular leg of the trail felt considerably longer than the posted distance, but then again I hadn’t worked out in a week and was mentally prepared for a gentle stroll.  Thankfully the views more than made up for the unexpected and legit physical exertion.

2.I am ever-so-thankful that we finished right before it started to rain. I cannot imagine descending slick rock steps in a downpour, especially on an ankle that still wasn’t 100%.

3. The coast line is stunning. There is no other word for it.

4. Riomaggiore has some damn fine fried fish if you want a guilt-full way to reward a too-short-for-that-type-of-reward hike.

5. I am still haunted by my decision NOT to eat gelato. Sure it was raining and cool by the time we were wandering through the streets of Riomaggiore, but there is simply no excuse for missing a gelato opportunity.

Stay tuned for our other town-to-town hikes in future Throwback Thursdays.

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