The Cinque Terre trails are forever enticing whether they be across the valleys, over the mountain or down to an alluring blue sea. I have my favourite trails and now is a good time to really enjoy the Spring flowers and the new vine shoots and take a hike along the high trail from San Bernardino to Manarola, via Fornacchi and La Cigoletta.
Fornacchi is the tiniest of villages, only 5 houses but with an important laundry service that provides bed linens to the numerous apartments and bed and breakfast places in the area. The view is stunning of San Bernardino below and the coastline to Monterosso as a sweet little Madonna indicates the path through to the woods. There are no other hikers just the sounds of Nature; rustling leaves from the light breeze and as tiny lizards run out of sight.
Crossroads indicate the trail across the mountain ridge round to Drignano or down towards Corniglia across to Manarola which I prefer as am more fond of coastal views. On the high trail between Corniglia and Manarola I meet lots of hikers since the coastal trail between Corniglia and Manarola is closed now more tourists are obliged to try the high trail.
It’s a great time of year as the vines have sprouted and the views over the famous terraced landscape are compelling. Besides a large part of the trail walks through the vineyards. A total immersion in an ancient farming method where vines are trellised over wire frames to protect them from the strong winds and allow more air circulation underneath to avoid mould from the humidity later in the season.
And of course the thousands of kilometers of drystone walls that make this area a Unesco World Heritage site and a twin site with the Great Wall of China! They say if you put all the drystone walls together they would be twice as long as the Great Wall…..but it’s a saying and I cannot guarantee that as fact.
Little would most tourists realize how hard it is to maintain these terraces, cultivate these vineyards or even grape pick…..as our volunteers experienced at harvest time.
The trail leaves the vineyards in time for a coffee stop in the village of Volastra, perched high above the sea. This sweet semi circular village, immersed in olive groves features a lovely Romanesque church sitting on a shaded piazza with plenty of seats for hikers to have a break.
From there it’s downhill all the way with breathtaking views along the coast till Manarola appears in view.
Blessed with sunshine on the descent enhances the beauty of Manarola as I meander through gorgeous irises and wildflowers and am beckoned on by the aquamarine sea.