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Weekend Trip: Cinque Terre

Craving a getaway from the bustling city of Rome, I booked a train ticket to Cinque Terre along with two of my good friends from the trip. Cinque Terre is a charming string of five little Italian coastal towns that are built onto the mountain side. We took a train from Rome to Levanto, a town just right outside of Cinque Terre, where we stayed in a hostel for two nights. Hostels are a great way to make traveling in Europe more affordable, as long as you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers!

The three of us shared a room with three other people for two nights, which only cost us about 50 euro a person! Cinque Terre is a National Park, with a trail connecting all the towns, so we got the trail pass to use for the weekend. The pass gives you trail access, as well as train access from Levanto to La Spezia (past Cinque Terre). It works for 24 hours and only costs 16 euro! However, two of the trails are currently closed for repairs (the section from Riomaggiore to Corniglia). Unless you’re a super hiker, this isn’t much of an issue. The trail is much longer than it seems!

Before starting our all day trek, we stumbled upon a little market. We bought some fresh fruit and a bottle of wine from a sweet old man. Because we aren’t cooking our own meals here, I have been eating an astonishingly small amount of fruits and vegetables (unless you count pasta sauce). My body has been begging me for some fruit, so this was the perfect coincidence! Just look at those beautiful apricots!

We decided to start by taking the train to the end, and starting with Rio Maggiore. We wound our way through the narrow passageways and steep staircases nestled between the vibrant buildings to make it towards the coast line.  Settled on cliffs, this town has jutting rocks that let you go out further into the water. Because we got there so early, we got a really peaceful first experience in Cinque Terre. Watching the waves pull back before violently crashing into the rocks with a spattering of foam makes it easy to see how the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the sea to be a supernatural force. 

We skipped over Manarola and went  straight to Corniglia to start our hike before it got too hot. Despite the overcast weather, the hike was the most wonderful and magical part of the trip. We truly thought that we were going to hike all five when we first arrived.  But after a couple hours hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza, we realized our mistake. Made up of steps up and down, the entire trail is on an incline. Maybe we’re not as in shape as we thought, but that hike tired us out! It’s only 3.5 kilometers (a little over 2 miles), but those inclines will kill you! The trail had a never-ending supply of beautiful views and wildflowers along the way. A truly serene spot of nature.

After we wussed out, we had some lunch in the very crowded town of Vernazza, which is picture in the  first photo of this blog post. Next, we took the train to Monterosso. Out of all five towns, only this one has an accessible beach. While we wanted to relax on the beach and eat our nectarines, this wasn’t quite possible. Filled with tourists, there is hardly enough room to set a towel down in Monterosso. After we finally found some space, we settled in and opened the wine.  Word of advice, wine that’s been in a backpack for five hours will not be good. Don’t make our mistake! We did our best to enjoy the experience anyways, hot wine and all.

As someone who leans slightly towards the introverted side, I really needed this weekend getaway. So many deep and personal conversations were had over the crashing of the waves, and so many silent moments of awe were shared. It was a wonderful weekend of friendship and adventure. The quiet mornings and evenings were absolutely blissful. If you’re looking for a little nature escape for the weekend, Cinque Terre is a great choice.