a VirtualTourist member from Seattle
I'm not super athletic, but I'm set on hiking through the cinque terre. Or at least some of it. How phisically challanging are the hikes? And any other advice pertaining to any of the villages would be helpful too.
If you start at the southern end of the Cinque Terre, the beginning of the path is a broad, flat, and paved. This is where you will find the most tourists. After the first village it degenerates, and has steep narrow and rocky stretches, with occaisional long flights of uneven stone steps. Mind you, this isn't anything like serious alpinism but it is tiring, and half way through the day it became necessary for us to take rests. The last long section of the path (heading northwards) is an interminable twisting stone staircase going down. The steps are quite irregular and sometimes rather steep. You will encounter unhappy looking people who made the mistake of starting their walk at that end with no idea they were going to be climbing stairs for a good mile or so. You will also encounter local people carrying heavy burdens withou breaking a sweat and shaming you by how tough they are. It's a beautiful walk and you can do all five villages in a leisurely day, with the reward of a good meal at the end.It's chief danger would be that you twist an ankle on a loose stone through lack of attention, so for the most part I'd say "When walking, walk. When looking, look."
lol I am one of those sorry people who started in Monterosso and headed south, even that is doable, just take your time and enjoy the best views on earth. At least going that way you get to go DOWN the steps from Corniglia. Other advice: check out each one of the towns, they all have a unique personality. Good shoes and water, and camera, thats all you need.
Oh yes, those flippin' stairs UP to Corniglia. Imagine how many generations of unsuspecting tourists have arrived there by train, with baggage, and had to face that thing. Gasp. Gasp.
Yes we thought we had it all figured out last time. Start in Riomaggiore, walk the via del'amore to Manarola, walk to Corniglia, train to Vernazza, hike from Vernazza to Monterosso, train back to Vernazza, hike back to Corniglia. Except it had been raining and the path between Manarola and Corniglia was closed because of landslides. Also a great and easy hike is to take the free shuttle bus up to Volastra and hike down to Corniglia, beautiful views and all downhill. Hey I am starting to sound lazy here aren't I?