Bunnies in Corniglia? What am I talking about? It was an innocent mistake of mine, when I heard the names of each of the five villages of the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso were easy enough but my pronunciation of Corniglia sounded more like Coniglio (bunny) Leave out the ‘r’ and change the last vowel is all that’s needed, and I kept calling it that for years!
Besides it was a village that I rarely visited, as it is built on a high promontory and has no ferry access. The Lardarina are the never ending stairs (377 steps!) to climb from the station to the village and the same endless stairs down to its little port, with no beach area….so why go? How wrong could I be!
From my little hideaway at San Bernardino, I am forever looking down on Corniglia and since it’s my closest village, I have spent many days exploring it in depth. It is delightfully different from the others, with a much more local feel to it and some super quality handmade products made in the region.
I usually pop down each day to pick up some bread or milk, cutting into the Blue Trail (that runs between Vernazza and Corniglia) at Prevo, the halfway mark, absorbing the great views of the coastline on the way down and relishing the perfect view of my little village on the return trek.
The main square is the meeting spot for everyone, tourists and locals alike, catching up on the gossip, under the shade of the plane trees. Unfortunately the trees underwent a ‘boys pruning’ job at the start of last year and may take a few years to recover!
Late afternoon I indulge in an aperitif at my favourite little bar, where I endorse their philosophy “We are free from wifi for our and your health. Look around there is Nature. Log out and clear your mind” In the quieter hours Sabrina is often seen relaxing with book in hand as she waits for customers.
In July the place is smothered in basil for the festival, every nook and cranny decorated, even prizes awarded and menus overflowing with creative suggestions.
When the heat gets too much, the little marina calls and swimmers enjoy a crystal clear sea while sunbathers are refreshed from the spray. The sign to take your own rubbish back up, goes to show that council workers have some rights and are not obliged to do the 300+ steps down just to empty a rubbish bin!
Designer and handcraft producers of the T shirts – Stefano and his wife embarrassingly printed hundreds of T-shirts with the villages in the wrong order!! When I pointed it out, they said fortunately most tourists don’t notice….so check the fish T shirt to see what went wrong next time you’re here.
The name relates back to Roman times, “Gens Cornelia“, being the Roman family who owned the place. And despite the 377 steps, you will not be disappointed, as the local sign says. If you’re quick out of the station there is even a little bus service!
So now that you’ve been warned about the name, I hope you get the pronunciation right. From Corniglia station enjoy the view of Manarola before you start the hike up, and then treat yourself to a gelati when you do get up there. If your a hiker, try the high trail Manarola via Volastra to Corniglia which will give you stunning views and get you away the crowds.