We left Rome bright and early, taking our first train journey of the trip from Roma Termini to La Spezia Centrale, which is 3 hours north. Departing at 6:57am this high speed Frecciabianca train was more direct than most other options as it didn’t require us to change trains in Pisa but note that a seat reservation was required for Eurail Pass holders.
Once in the train station stop in at the information center to get your card to the Cinque Terre National Park, which includes access to the walking paths and the local trains that run between the 5 towns. This local train also departs from La Spezia Centrale and it only takes 30 minutes to get to the farthest of the five towns, Monterosso.
We were informed that due to the rainy weather, the trail along the coast was closed but that we could still visit the towns by train. We had come all this way just for the afternoon to hike the trail so although disappointed, we decided to make the best of it. Someone had suggested we try the most wonderful focaccia at a little restaurant in Monterosso so we hopped on the train and ventured out into these coastal villages.
Yes the focaccia was excellent but what was even more exciting is how the rain clouds blew away and we began to see pockets of blue sky. From here we went straight towards the trail to see if we could access it and were pleased to see it had re-opened. Having left our hiking dreams behind, we were dressed in jeans and hadn’t chosen a route but we weren’t about to miss the opportunity!
So we jumped on the trail in Monterosso and walked the 3km mostly uphill, muddy, exhausting trail to Vernazza. Sounds inviting doesn’t it? Well to be honest the weather just kept clearing up as we went and the views just kept getting better, making this one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes I’ve ever been on! Along the way you pass mountainside vineyards, old stone walls, waterfalls, lemon trees, rose bushes, poppies all while climbing a number of steep “goat trail” type hills. Near the end of the trail you get the best perspective of Vernazza, a colourful town, sitting on the water, with luscious green mountains as the backdrop; what a view!
Next stop Florence!