Vernazza to Corniglia – Hiking the Cinque Terre

We were based in the wonderful coastal town of village of Vernazza in our 2 day stay in the Cinque Terre. The second day was reserved by me for hiking the blue trail or the coastal trail connecting the villages of the Cinque Terre. When we visited only the trails on either ends from Vernazza to Corniglia and Monterosso respectively were functional so to visit the remaining two villages we had to take the train. The 1 day Cinque Terre Treno Card which covers trains connecting the villages and trekking the blue trail which is a most convenient thing since you don’t have to stand in the ticket lines every time.

It had been raining the previous evening in Vernazza so the ticket office refused to sell us passes for the next day as trail openings are weather dependant. I had everything crossed while sleeping hoping for good weather the next day. As I opened the curtains the next morning I heaved a huge sigh of relief as there was not a grey cloud in sight. So we got ready early and bought foccacias and croissants for breakfast which we had on an empty breakwater at the Vernazza harbour ( The must do experience when you are in Vernazza!)

A repeat photo from the previous blog – But an experience to remember, breakfast at the breakwater in Vernazza

We wanted to start the trek early but in typical Italian style the ticket office only opened at 8 am so we had to wait till it opened and buy our passes and finally start on our trek to Corniglia. To be frank me and the better half are not avid trekkers. We do walk a lot on our vacations, but this was the first overseas trek that we were attempting. We climbed the stairs up from Vernazza to the view point where we had been the previous evening but I couldn’t resist taking more photos before we moved on.

Early morning on the trail to Corniglia – Sun over half of Vernazza

After we passed the view point I changed lenses to my favourite 300mm to see if I could capture any birds and flowers along the trail, because very frankly there are only so many photos you can take of the sea and the cliffs! ( I call myself a landscape photographer by compulsion, birds and animals are my primary target) I didn’t expect to see a lot of birds as the vegetation was not that dense. To add to that the birds seemed to be super anxious and flew away even when we were at a considerable distance. But I got a few shots in the olive groves on the cliffs which is enough justification for carrying the lens.

A long distance shot of a gold finch on the trail to Corniglia
A fly catcher lands for a brief second before flying off

As the trail moved on and we could not see Vernazza any more we started picking up pace (As much as our legs would permit!) The trail itself after a series of stairs up from Vernazza is a rocky narrow path with lots of ups and downs. Some parts have tree cover but most parts have no shade so we were thankful that we were doing it before the mid day heat started.

The trail to Corniglia – Narrow path with good markings and lots of ups and downs

Good hiking shoes are a must, without which one is sure to land up with a stained ankle on the rocky path. We continued on the narrow path stopping very frequently to take photos or just stand and enjoy the view on display. As it was spring there were a lot of wild flowers blooming on the path edges, to mine and the 300mm’s delight.

Wild flowers in bloom


Flowers on the path, pleasant weather, good company and a great destination to look forward to. All the ingredients for a perfect trek were there this morning. And it was a pleasure walking those 3 miles from Vernazza to Corniglia and not a pain in any sense.

A moth basks in the sun on a pleasant sunny morning in the Cinque Terre

As we walked on we could see Corniglia on its cliff top setting. It is always a morale booster when you can see the destination when on a trek. So we picked up our pace and made our way towards Corniglia. Corniglia doesn’t have a harbour so it gets relatively less visitors than the other 4 villages ( Always a good thing!)

Corniglia and its vineyards in the foreground and Manarola in the background

Frankly I didn’t consider this a very tiring and dangerous trek and within 2 hours we were in Corniglia. Before we made our final walk into the town itself I took some pictures of this hill top town.

Corniglia – The hill top town of the Cinque Terre

The town itself, like all the towns in the Cinque Terre has no major sights. Just narrow lanes, pastel coloured buildings, beautiful views and a pleasantly peaceful church. We entered the town on the church square and went in to the church to rest for some time in the peaceful environment.

The church at Corniglia – Lovely and peaceful

We were the only ones in this beautiful little church. I have always enjoyed taking photos of churches because of their symmetry which is very pleasing to the eye. This church was no different. I took some photos and then sat in the pews with the better half for a few minutes looking at the art and architecture around. The best place to rest and recuperate after a trek.

Then we moved out and walked along the main street filled with souvenir selling shops and cafes and reached the end of town which is marked by a cafe and a view point.

The view from the view point and the far end of Corniglia

The view point was the most crowded part of Corniglia for obvious reasons so we only stayed there for a few minutes before we proceeded back along a deserted side street where we found a plump white cat. Both of us are cat lovers and we played with the feline for a few minutes.

Along a side street of Corniglia with Pukku’s Ligurian cousin

These elegantly decaying side streets of the small towns of Italy are what I love most about this country. We walked along the streets aimlessly till we reached the main square. There we took a few photos before we started on our way back.

The petite main square of Corniglia

We then went to the most famous Gelateria in town to get our first Gelato of the day. No vacation in Italy is complete without having multiple gelato a day! We always try new flavours every time and so it was local lime and honey this time. And it was amazing as usual!!

The most famous Gelateria of Corniglia – for good reason!
Photobombed by the gregarious gelato shop owner

With gelato in hand we proceeded to the bus stop to catch a bus back to the train station of Corniglia which is down at sea level. Next on the agenda were the towns of Manarola and Riomaggiore.

It had been a great start to the day and a great trek in the most beautiful part of Italy. People who visit the Cinque Terre as a day trip and blitz through the villages are missing the point. This is the place for leisurely treks, stopping to smell the flowers (and taking photos!), enjoying the views and enjoying a gelato or a meal with a view.

Till next time.




  1. Lovely. Glad it didn’t rain. The pictures of the flowers were simply awesome. The view of vernazza in the sun is the killer pic though. I love the landscape pictures by the way


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