Sentiero Azzurro, Trail # 2 or, most commonly, the Cinque Trail trail! An iconic hike through the five Cinque Terre towns, Trail # 2 is the most popular of many trails through the Cinque Terre area. While the trail is fun on its own, it is extra fun to spice it up with food and drink stops in each town! Here are my suggestions for hiking, eating and drinking your way through the five lands!
To accomplish this hike and food and bar crawl, start your day early, taking the train from your home base to Monterosso. And by early, I mean as early as you can make it. The trail is open from dawn to dusk, and you need an early start to fit everything in. Note – it is necessary to start in Monterosso, so that you get the difficult trails in before you start drinking!
To hike the Sentiero Azzurro, you need to buy a day pass. Its pretty inexpensive, and you can buy the pass at any train station. The ticket is good for the entire day between all the towns. You have to show your ticket at the entrance of each trail leg (so don’t throw it out), and check points look like this:
Now, back to the bar crawl…I mean hike! Upon leaving Monterosso’s train station, walk left toward Old Town and the mountain. You start the trail by walking all the way up the mountain, feeling like you are going to the private hotel at the top. The trail starts just behind that hotel – the yellow marker is your clue. Monterosso is the only town without an official stop on the crawl.
This string, from Monterosso to Vernazza, is the hardest portion of the trail and I would allow about 1.5 – 2 hours to complete it. I recommend brining water, sunscreen, a camera, cash, a small backpack to hold these items and solid athletic shoes! Expect gorgeous views, and a rocky path with a lot of stairs!
You will eventually end up in Vernazza, with great photo opportunities just before you descend into town:
In Vernazza, you will make your first food stop! When you get to the main street, take a right and walk down to view the small port, and then make your first food stop –at Batti Batti – to get a slice of focaccia, a local bread, with your choice of topping (sweet or savory!). My favorites are the pesto and salami. You will need a snack after the hike, and probably another bottle of water! Batti Batti is on the main street just before you enter the main (and only) square. Cost is approximately €2,50.
After getting your fill of Vernazza, proceed to the next section of the trail, Vernazza to Cornigilia. This hike is still hard, but easier than the Monterosso to Vernazza stretch. Halfway to Corniglia, you will come upon Bar Il Gabbiano, an oasis in the middle of the trail and your second stop! Break here for a fresh, local lemon slush (a slushy flavored with local lemons, which you passed on the hike), some water and great views of the sea. The views:
Upon arrival in Corniglia, go inside the big church (the Church of S. Pietro) and then make your way into town for gelato and a Cinque Terre beer! Your first stop is Gelateria Alberto. Alberto makes interesting and delicious gelato flavors from local ingredients. Try the local basil gelato with fresh olive oil!
Next, proceed through town and stop at Bar Nunzio for one of Cinque Terre’s local, craft beers! Bar Nunzio is along the main street, just across from the Oratory of S. Caterina. Go down stairs to its outside seating area for the best views of surrounding vineyards! Five Cinque Terre beers are made (one for each town), and I recommend choosing which one you like best. You can also get a snack here if you are hungry.
After your beer, walk down to the Corniglia train station and take the train to Riomaggiore, because the trail between Corniglia and Manarola is closed due to mud slides. In Riomaggiore, walk through the tunnel and into town to stop at one of Dan and my favorite Cinque Terre restaurants – La Lampara! La Lampara is right at the beginning of the town (at the bottom of the hill on the left looking up) and serves amazing pesto pizza, stuffed mussels and the local Cinque Terre wine!
After lunch, if the most famous portion of the trail, Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane), is open, walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola, which takes about 30 minutes. If it is closed, as it was in August 2015, train from Riomaggiore to Manarola. In Manarola, walk down to the sea for one of the most famous pictures of Cinque Terre.
Then, finish up your culinary adventure at Il Porticciolo Wine & Food – right across the street from the well-known Il Porticciolo restaurant on the main street – for a wine tasting. The cost is €18,00 per person and includes savory and sweet snacks, a red wine, a white wine, scracchetrà and your choice of limoncino or grappa – all from the local Burasca vineyards.
If you have extra time or want another drink, walk up the hill in Manarola just past the entrance to the tunnel to the train station and stop by Pan & Pumate, for a glass of prosecco on tap and a snack, from foccacia to homemade chicken nuggets! The tap prosecco is €2,50 a glass and delicious!
What a fun day! After you will certainly be tired and full! We did not eat anything the entire day aside from what is listed here. As mentioned, it is necessary to start your hike in Monterosso to knock out the difficult trails before you start drinking!
Cheers to a great day in Cinque Terre!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Cinque Terre Trail – This website has good information about the trails and the ticket to hike them. You can also buy a ticket for multiple days and a train and trail combo.
Batti Batti – Via Visconti 3, Vernazza, La Spezia, Italy. No website. Open from about 10 – 8 every day. No reservations. The wine shop next door will sell you wine and open it for you!
Bar il Gabbiano – No website. You can’t miss it halfway through the Trail # 2 between Vernazza and Corniglia. Hours seem to change with the wind. Most likely open from 9 – 5 during busy season, less in the off season.
Alberto Gelateria – Via Fieschi 74, 19018 Corniglia, Italy. Open 10 – 10.
Bar Nunzio – via Fieschi 156, Corginlia. T. 0187812138. Hours vary depending on season. Open during standard hours during busy season. Also, they have the cutest beagle!!
La Lampara – Via Malborghetto 10, 19017 Riomaggiore, Italy. T: +39 0187 920120
Il Porticciolo Wine & Food – 92 Via Renato Birolli, 19017, Manarola, Italia. T: +39 0187 920083. Possibly closed on Wednesdays. Make sure you go to the small wine & food shop across from the fancier Il Proticciolo restaurant.
Pan & Pumate – Via A. Discovolo 208, Manarola Liguria, Italy. No website.
On A Budget
Most of the restaurants mentioned are casual and inexpensive.