We arrived in Vernazza on Friday evening and we got up bright and early on Saturday to start our day. Cinque Terre is a national park and there are many different trails and paths that connect the five towns. You can find all the different routes and paths that you can take here and they differentiate the paths based on hiking experience. Some of the main trails in Cinque Terre are closed though because of recent landslides so we did not get to hike between Corniglia and Manarola and between Manarola and Riomaggiore on the famous Via dell Amore.
On Saturday morning we started on the path from Vernazza to Monterosso. It took the fiance and I almost 2 hours to complete the hike. I am glad we started from the Vernazza side because as we got closer to Monterosso there were hundreds and hundreds of stairs to walk down. If we had started the hike from Monterosso, I might have given up! After having lunch and walking around Monterosso, we took the train back to Vernazza for a little break before tackling our second hike for the day. This time we took the route from Vernazza to Corniglia. The trails are absolutely beautiful. You are constantly surrounded by the amazing landscape of this part of Italy. Olive trees line the trails as well as huge interesting looking cacti. The ocean is a stunning blue. And it is so fun seeing the towns from afar. It blows my mind how people built these villages by the ocean hundreds of years ago and what amazes me even more is that people still live there!
On our way back to Vernazza from Corniglia we saw a poster advertising some free guided walks through different parts of Cinque Terre. So the fiance and I got up on Sunday morning and took the train to Manarola where the guided walk would begin. The hike was led by a friendly Italian woman who works at the national park and has lived her whole life there. Along with 15 other people, mostly Italians, we started this three hour hike. We walked through olive groves and vineyards through the hills of Cinque Terre between Manarola and Corniglia. All of the land there is still owned by local families and they harvest their own olives to produce olive oil. Because they do not have huge olive groves, they mainly produce oil for their own families and friends. It was a really lovely hike and we got to see some of the back trails which the fiance and I might not have taken if we weren't with the group. We did see some hikers along the way, but only a handful compared to the line ups we encountered on the main paths between the towns.
Honestly, the towns are really charming in Cinque Terre but there is really not much to do in them. Part of experiencing Cinque Terre is going on some of the hikes and soaking in its landscape and scenery through walking the trails. Plus hiking helped us burn off the two gelatos we ate on Saturday!