From Monterosso al Mare we were able to hike to Vernazza and Corniglia along the 5 mile Sentierio Azzourro. The coastal trail to the other 2 villages of this UNESCO World Heritage site, Manotola and Riomaggiore, was washed out so we visited it the next day via train. You can see why they call this the blue path… are you ready to hit the trail? Andiamo!
Sections of the trail run through lush vegetation, much of which is agricultural, here you see a beautiful olive grove above the trail and the man made stone tiered gardens below where they grow lemons, vegetables, basil, oregano and marjoram.
Olives usually ripen in October and November when they are harvested and preserved or made into world famous olive oil.
In some sections it’s called the Sentiero Verde~Azzuro for all of the greenery. I loved these Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terre signs along the way that let you know your elevation and how far to the next village.
The pastel-hued towns with unique towers and steeples were the gems along the along the way. Here is our arrival into the first town, Vernazza.
The towns were pretty crowded, even in mid-September when we hiked. Thankfully, the trails weren’t bad when we started around 8:30 am. We did a quick walk through Vernazza, then continued on to Corniglia.
Back on the trail we were greeted with blue morning glory filled ravines.
Acres and acres of vineyards are planted on the steep, sun drenched cliffs. Rocks are used to create tiers and the grapes absorb the minerally flavor of the stony terroir.
These grapes are made into crisp white wines for which are the perfect companion to all of the local seafood.
We knew Corniglia was the end of the road, since the coastal trail was washed out ahead of us. We walked through the busy town but decided to celebrate at a restaurant just off the trail on the outskirts of town.
Ristorante Cecio had a fabulous outdoor terrace and the owner and staff were beyond accommodating, helping us with all of our “gear” and suggesting a meal of local favorites.
It was here we were introduced to what became our favorite wine from the region, a blend of Vermentino and Albarotto also known as Costa de Sera di Riomaggiore from Cinque Terre Cosa di Posa.
The meal began with, what else, but a gorgeous platter of local anchovies, resplendent with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and lemon zest. Another note on Italian design, look at this ingenious platter that allowed us to serve ourselves the small fillets onto crusty bread and then drizzle the olive oil and seasonings over the sensation from the pointed tips.
There is a train system that runs along the coast so you can easily reach each of the towns without even hiking. After many more courses, we hopped on that train and went back to the gulf of Monterosso al Mare to relax with a swim and soak up some sun after the big hike.