For over a thousand years people have lived in this dramatic region, cultivating the steep hillsides and fishing the blue waters. Walk this magical part of Italy by day, and settle in for traditional feasts washed down with a glass or two of local wine at night.
Day 1 - Levanto
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Levanto. Levanto is located in the province of La Spezia in the region of Liguria and is easily accessible by train. For information on all train schedules see the Italian national rail site of Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com). Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving/ departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transports minimal carbon emissions. There are no activities planned today so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel that is centrally located in Levanto (details are in your travel documents). This evening we meet our tour leader and our fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place in a notice, located near the reception at our hotel) where our leader will give us a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour. This is followed by a group dinner together in the hotel restaurant, where we dine on local specialties. In the evening we can take a relaxed stroll through the town taking in the atmosphere of this seaside location.
Hotel Europa or similar
Day 2 - Levanto – Punta Mesco - Monterosso
Today we embark on our first walk, which takes us along the coast from Levanto to Monterosso, the first of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The first part of the walk leads us through the old town centre of Levanto, we then walk past the stunning cathedral and climb up to its castle. From here our walk leads us up to Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. Just short of the point we take a small detour to the ruins of an old 11th Century hermitage and the nearby ruins of the lighthouse, from where we enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline and find a nice spot to stop for a short break and a picnic lunch. Then we follow a fairly steep path down into Monterosso - a colourful village with blue, red and yellow houses that cluster along the beachfront. We have time to explore this interesting little town before taking the local train back to Levanto. For those who wish to, there is also an option to walk back from Monterosso to Levanto. This evening we enjoy an evening dinner together at a local restaurant. (Approx walking time: 3-4 hours / 10 km or 15 km with return on foot)
Hotel Europa or similar
Day 3 - ‘Sentiero dell'Amore’: Riomaggiore - Manarola - Corniglia - Vernazza
A short train ride takes us to Riomaggiore, where we start the most famous of all walks in the area - the 'Sentiero dell’Amore' (Lover’s Walk). We begin by walking to Manarola, an attractive little village with steep multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port. From here we make our way along one of the prettiest sections of the Cinque Terre, walking around the headland and heading up the 365 steps to Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea. We continue our ascent to the little hamlet of Prevo, walking through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove. We enjoy some of the best views in the region as we approach Vernazza, dominated by its old fortress. We follow the contours of the hillside on a narrow track that leads us up and down, before a fairly steep descent takes us into the village itself. Having a drink in Vernazza, on the wonderful town square at the harbour, resplendent with its brightly painted boats, is a good way to recover from the days walking. In the late afternoon we take the train back to Levanto. (Approx walking time: 4 hours / approx. walking distance: 9 km)
Hotel Europa or similar
Day 4 - Riomaggiore - Portovenere - Levanto
Our day starts with a short train ride to the village of Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the five villages and certainly one of the prettiest. Here at tiny Riomaggiore, we begin our walk that leads us to Portovenere, at the very end of the peninsula. Today’s trail is the most challenging of our Ligurian walks but equally, and arguably, our most enormously rewarding! We first walk up a rather steep flight of stairs and then along a undulating track to reach the sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero (those not keen to do this climb can catch a bus instead). After stopping here for a short break at the sanctuary and enjoying the spectacular views, we continue our walk to Campiglia. Continuing uphill we follow the contours of the coastal cliffs, passing terraced vineyards and enjoying wonderful views of the coastline, framed by crystal clear blue waters. We then follow the ridge-top traverse that goes from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other. Passing the abandoned village of Lemmen and walking through vineyards and pine forests, we descend to the little village of Campiglia, where we can stop for lunch and some refreshments. We then continue towards Portovenere and enjoy even more spectacular coastal views. Arriving at the 16th-Century castle above the village we may be able to catch a glimpse of the distant peaks of the Alpi Apuane, before descending on to a long staircase that takes us to St. Peter’s Point and then in into the heart of the village. After some time to relax and explore in Portovenere, we return by boat to Levanto, a lovely way to see the coast from the water. (Approx walking time: 5-6 hours / approx. walking distance: 12-14km)
Hotel Europa or similar
Breakfast | Dinner
Day 5 - The Wild West Coast walk - Levanto to Moneglia - Santa Margherita
From Levanto we walk in a westerly direction today, along the coast and through several charming little villages. We have the opportunity to enjoy lunch in one of the villages as well as pit stops along the way for a rest or a coffee break. From any of the villages along the way, there is the possibility of catching the train, in case you wish to shorten the walk and just relax on the beach in one of the villages. The first part of our walk follows the beach, before we take a path leading into the foothills and then down to the charming seaside village of Bonassola, a good place for a morning coffee stop. We then stroll through the seaside hills towards the small village of Framura, a collection of ancient hamlets on a hillside, distinctive due to its red rocks. From Costa, the largest hamlet, a level path contours around the hills and gives us splendid views out towards the alluring sea. We can opt to either continue our walk to the resort of Deiva Marina, or walk back down to the coast, where we can enjoy a swim, before taking the train. . By train we then travel to the splendid small town of Moneglia, where we have time to wander around and explore or to Sestri Levante, where we can make an optional short walk onto the headland. Finally we catch a train to Santa Margherita, our base for the next three nights, an attractive town that overlooks the Ligurian Sea. We will arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon. Approx walking time: 6 hours (3.5 to Framura) / approx. walking distance: 16 km or 9 km to Framura)
Day 6 - Santa Margherita - San Fruttuoso - Camogli
Today we take a stunning walk across the hills to some amazing viewpoints and then down to the beautiful Abbey of San Fruttuoso. Firslyt we travel by local bus along a panoramic route to the small hamlet of Ruta. Here we’ll walk along some splendid fin-de-siècle villa's towards the highest point of the Peninsula, Monte Portofino. We then have several longer & shorter options to reach the Abbey of San Fruttuoso - an 11th century 'jewel' that is set in a secluded cove and reachable only by boat or on foot. All walks bring you through a verdrant forested landscape, with some amazing views across the Gulf of Tigullio and the Golfo Paradiso. There is time to visit the abbey, one of the main monuments of Liguria and perhaps time for a swim. We then travel by boat to Camogli, a chance to also admire the beautiful coastline from the sea. In Camogli we take our time to wander around through the colourful historic centre and can enjoy a relaxed drink or grab a gelato on one of its many terraces. From there it’s a 5-minute train ride back to Santa Margherita. You can make your own choice for tonight’s dinner, either in the medieval centre of Santa Margherita, or perhaps an early dinner in Camogli. (4-5 hrs).
Day 7 - Portofino
Today we’ll see the best of the Portofino Peninsula! We first take a short walk through the historical centre of Santa Margherita Ligure, where we can also do some shopping for our lunch. We then start our walk into the hills and enjoy beautiful views across the bay. By late morning we reach Portofino, one of the most typical Ligurian seaside villages and a popular resort for jetsetters. We explore this charming village and take the stunning walk to the church lighthouse, where we can look back on the inlet of Portofino, a name that means 'fine harbour'. We then head uphill and take a break in the woods, which is a great spot to enjoy whatever picnic lunch that we may have prepared for ourselves. We then have some time free time to relax. Those who wish can join the leader for a walk back to Santa Margherita, others might opt to relax and return by boat or bus later in the afternoon. In the evening we all meet again for a farewell dinner in Santa Margherita, to celebrate our wonderful exploration of the Liguria region.
Breakfast | Dinner
Day 8 - Santa Margherita
Our trip ends after breakfast this morning in Santa Margherita. Santa Margherita is well connected by train to other cities in Italy including regular trains to Genoa, Milan, Florence and Pisa. The Galileo Galilei International Airport is located 2km south of Pisa and is the main airport serving Tuscany and Milan's Malpensa airport is a major international hub for flights to and from North America and Australasia (via Asia). Those who wanting to extend their stay can book additional nights in Santa Margerita.