We took the train to Manarola and walked down a tunnel into the town, then downhill through the initially crowded to the coast path from Corniglia. This offered a great view of the village as it clings to the rocks.
Continuing round the headland, there is clear view of the path running horizontally across the hillside and you can clearly see where there have been landslips and where the path is interrupted. We did wonder why it has not been repaired ...
Now it was a case on of onwards and upwards to fond the alternative inland route, because the coast path also remains blocked between Manarola and Riomaggiore. We headed up the main street, surprised to find small boats parked there opposite the tourist shops.
The main street winds upwards to open put into a small square opposite the church of San Lorenzo (1338). The facade is marvellously simple, but the interior has been given the baroque treatment.
Opposite the church is a fine capanile. Our guide book offers no date and observes, mysteriously, that "it probably had a defensive function".
Just beyond the church is a path junction and we turn right and then immediately left to begin a strenuous and steep climb up the hill at the back of the village (see the picture at the head of this post). Pausing part of the way up, I was able to take this picture of the upper town seemingly surrounded by terraced vineyards.
Eventually you almost reach the top, with worryingly tired people stumbling towards you on the descent. The top itself is a fairly level stretch of perhaps a hundred yards ending in a small copse of trees, where I saw the first butterflies of the day: Red Admiral, Clouded Yellow and this wonderful Two-tailed Pasha, one of a mating pair.
Now we began the descent, which was mercifully shorter and less steep. We just loved this light railway system, where the driver seemed to have to keep a screwdriver firmly pressed onto some contact to keep the motor running.
Then there was our first view of the final village of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. It seemed less dramatic and picturesque than the others and in danger of being hidden by the cloud which had been getting lower and lower as the walk progressed.
We headed downhill and followed the road into Riomaggiore, walking first of down to the lowest level to locate the station. We then started to walk through a tunnel towards the village centre when we spotted a lift to the upper town. We took this and headed towards the church passing the Municipale, which had fading, but wonderful, wall paintings all over the outside. This is a small sample.
The nearby church of San Giovanni Battista dates from 1340 (in fact all the Cinque Terre churches date from the 14th century), although it was enlarged with a new facade in 1870.
It remained only to follow the main street downhill and have a refreshing drink at a nice bar overlooking the marina.
Conditions: warm, but ofetn cloudy.
Distance: we probably only walked about 4 km in total.
Rating: four stars.