Posted July 2, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk
As far as picturesque seaside villages go, it’s awfully hard to beat the Cinque Terre region on Italy’s Ligurian Sea coast. First, because it’s actually a group of five villages and that gives it kind of an unfair advantage. Second, unfairly-advantaged or not, these five represent some of the most authentic, charming and still-relatively-tourist-untainted coastal towns you’ll find in Italy.
Adding to these molto belle little towns’ allure is the walking trail that connects the villages to each other and the various lesser paths through the hills. Sometimes a treat and sometimes a trek, you’ll enjoy the views even more if you’re comfortable, safe and not, oh, fearing for your life. Read on for a beginner’s primer to taming the trail of Cinque Terre.
Shoes. You’d think this would go without saying, but platforms are “in” again this season, so I think it’s important to note: This 8-mile trail is not the place to break in your new Italian leather pumps, ladies; and, gentlemen, forget the flip-flops. While in some places the path is as pleasant as a walk in the park, in others, it won’t be forgiving on anything less than comfy walking shoes.
Waterbottle. Yes, there are five lovely villages in which you can grab a little something to quench your thirst … but in between the villages is when you actually need it. With the sun beating down as you walk and, for example, climb the 368 stairs into Corniglia, you’ll be glad to be relying on the villages for refills instead of doctor-administered hydration.
Running. To each his own, I guess. If you do feel the need to see the Italian coast through the veils of sweat streaming in your eyes, it’s best to do it when the paths are less crowded: early in the morning or later in the evening. I’m kidding, of course; I’m sure this is a lovely way to experience the trails. Though, if you ask me, you’re taking your life in your hands a little bit since the trail can be quite…
Slippery. Especially when it rains, the walkway gets rather slick and offers hikers the value-added thrill ride of a very real potential to slide down the side of a precipice. Not so buono; tread carefully, my friends. You’ll also see many people utilizing walking sticks to thwart just such a disaster. As they say (or they should), “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”
Don’t Drink. Water? Yes. Grappa? No. And the same goes for pinot grigio, pinot noir, sangria and limoncello. Listen, the sun’s hot, the trail’s slippery and you’ve got miles to go—does it really sound like a good idea to add alcohol to the mix? Yet, you’d be surprised at the number of tourists who have clearly been imbibing. Wine from the local vineyards is spectacular, it’s true, but you’re better off saving your bottle for a celebratory dinner at the end of the trail. That way, there’s a much better chance you’ll actually make it there.