I’m back with the final instalment of Throwback Thursdays Cinque Terre Edition (which fills my heart with great sadness). Today’s adventure is the short jaunt from Vernazza to Monterosso Al Mare. Join me in reliving my favourite section of the Cinque Terre Trail. And that’s saying a lot since it was incredibly hard to leave this little stretch of Vernazza beach heaven behind.
Trail: Vernazza to Monterosso
Distance: 3 km
Elevation Gain: negligible
Most of what I read (after the fact) talks about this being the most challenging leg of the trail. I think because only the considerable harder upper route from Riomaggiore to Manarola is open now, my opinion may be skewed. Nonetheless, I recall nothing more than some minor ups and downs with so many spectacular views that I didn’t even notice the uphill stretches.
Other selling features of this trail, in my opinion, are the sections of un-railed trail and the cat sanctuary. Let’s start with the cat sanctuary, because obviously it’s the one you want to know the most about. I cannot explain it. All I can say is that half-way between these two towns there is a little rock shelf along the trail featuring a row of tiny cat houses, each with a picture of its feline occupant. Sadly, only one cat was present the day we hiked through but, as a crazy cat lady, I was over-the-moon excited.
I wonder what the cats do all day, where they go, and whether they actually sleep inside the tiny cat houses (which, sadly, I did not photograph). I suppose I could Google it to find out, but I almost don’t want to ruin the mystery.
Now that the cats are out the way, let’s move on to the un-railed section of the trail. I sort of understand why they put railings along most sections of the trail. I can imagine with the volume of people it would be altogether too easy for someone to plummet into the sea, perhaps while trying to capture the perfect picture (this is something I’ve imagined happening to my father any time we’ve hiked near precipitous edges in the Rockies). Still, they sort of kill the feel of a real hike, making it feel more like a guided walk. This trail featured the most sections where you got to really live on the edge, which isn’t really dicey at all since the path is at least two feet wide. Still, those sections felt like real nature and real hiking.
In terms of general scenery, I feel like this trail also boasted some of the best views of the Legurian Sea, and some of the best views into the towns it runs between.
Exhibit A: Looking back to Vernazza en route to Monterosso.
Exhibit B: Coastlines for days
Exhibit C: Views coming into Monterosso
In my opinion, this is the best way to experience Monterosso. Since it’s the biggest of the villages, everyone told me we had to go there. Guess what? I didn’t love it. It lacked the quaint and cozy feel of the other villages, and I just didn’t feel a good energy there. If I were to go back, I would visit the sandy beach, stick my sweaty feet in the sea (which is exactly what we did), find a gelato, and promptly head right back where I came from.
All in all, despite my lack of love for Monterosso, this was the perfect hike to cap off our visit to Cinque Terre. Now we just have to plan another trip back to see what types of views the upper trails have to offer…