Hiking the Cinque Terre

Travel Destinations — By on November 26, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Sure, Italy has Rome, Florence and Venice. It has Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. But Italy also has the Cinque Terre, a slighty lesser known region on the country’s western edge, where five colorful villages hug a rocky coastline and are linked by a stunning trail system. Barbara Bodengraven recently hiked the Cinque Terre with her husband and wrote about the experience for the Boston Globe.

We had come to Cinque Terre to hike the Blue Trail that hugs the cliffs and rocks along the Mediterranean just north of La Spezia and south of Genoa. The trails were created hundreds of years ago by hardy peasants who trudged from one remote town to another to work the vineyards or trade their wares. Ten years ago the five small towns of the Cinque Terre and the trails that link them were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site…

We set off with two bottles of water and a couple of bananas and chocolate bars in a backpack. We took the twisting cobblestoned streets that led to the sea and a glorious flat section of graveled trail along the cliff edge leading to the town of Corniglia. The most heart-stopping moment along this stretch was a short suspension bridge. I hesitated only a moment before clutching its swaying railings and plunging across with eyes closed. An hour later we stared up at the 365 steps that led from the trail abutting Corniglia’s railroad station to the village above where we would pick up the trail toward the next town of Vernazza.

I’ve hiked the same trail, by the way, and while it is certainly a workout, I don’t remember it as being quite as frightening or heart-stopping as she describes. The views, on the other hand, are that spectacular and will take your breath away.

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