Day 2: Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
We organized our visits based on the weather and status of the hiking trails. The forecast for our third day in Cinque Terre was warmer and sunnier than the second day – perfect for hiking. Thus, we decided to hike the longest trail between Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare on Saturday. This meant that on day two (Friday) we visited the three towns closest to La Spezia: Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
We set out in the late morning to take the train from La Spezia to Corniglia. We planned to spend a few hours in each town, working our way back toward La Spezia. Upon arriving in Corniglia we left the train station and immediately started climbing. Nearly 400 steps later we were able to explore the village.
Be sure to check the train times before leaving the station in each town. This way you can avoid showing up at the train station too early. There’s nothing worse than waiting an hour for a train when you could be out exploring new places.
What do you do when the church is locked? Knock on the door of course!
We then took the train from Corniglia to Manarola. Unlike Corniglia, Manarola is right on the water. From the train station we went directly to the waterfront. The sea was quite rough this day, so we weren’t able to experience the sight of dozens of fishing boats out in the water. The sight of the waves crashing against the rocks was still a beautiful view though.
From the boat launch we made our way up into the village. Many of the restaurants and shops were closed for renovations. On the one hand it was great not having to fight crowds every step of the way. I can imagine during summer the villages are absolutely packed. On the other hand, it was imperative that we planned ahead with regards to lunch and snacks each day, knowing very well that we may not find any open shops. Thus, we packed a lunch and ate it while waiting for the train to arrive.
It started raining for a bit while we were in Manarola. Thankfully it didn’t last long or rain too hard.
Seeking out village churches is always high on my list. Beautiful architecture, artwork, and places of worship tend to go hand in hand.
Finally we took the train from Manarola to Riomaggiori. Riomaggiori is one of the larger villages, and is said to have the most to see and do. Knowing this, we wanted to spend a bit more time there. We were looking forward to watching the sunset from Riomaggiori as well.
From the train station we made our way up to the top of the village first, keeping our eyes peeled for a vantage point from which to watch the sunset. The sun peeking out from behind the clouds was a welcome view after the rain in Manarola.
A friend came to watch the sunset with us.
As soon as the sun set the temperature began to drop quickly. We headed to the train station to return to La Spezia. Unfortunately the combination of our poor timing and delayed trains meant that we, along with a dozen other disgruntled travelers, waited quite a while in the cold. Thankfully there was a small café next to the train station that was still open. We warmed up inside with coffee while waiting.
We finally made it back to La Spezia and headed to dinner. Our lovely waiter spoke French and we had an amazing meal. More importantly though, I got what I had been waiting for – tiramisu!
My absolute favorite dessert!
Up next: Day 3: Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare