Monday, 14 September 2015

Vernazza to Corniglia (Cinque Terre 2)

 Leaving Vernazza

The path out of Vernazza is right across the street from where we arrived yesterday afternoon. Off we go up steps to soon be high enough above the village to take a view back over it showing the castle on the left and the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia on the right. Monterosso is in the background.

We eventually emerge onto a more level area and are surprised by the number of cactuses with their orange fruits.

We think we have maybe reached a level but this proves to be naive and we climb a long series of steep stone steps to eventually emerge at a point where we can see our destination, Coniglia, for the first time. Almost immediately we arrive at a bar, in the middle of nowhere, straddling the path as it turns inland for a bit. We stop for a fresh orange juice and to enjoy the view ahead.

The next phase involves a steady descent along a very rocky path towards Coniglia. At one point there is a great view back towards a hill-top village, which I think is San Bernardino from the map.

We descend steadily and are soon on the outskirts of Coniglia, the only one of the Cinque Terre not at sea level, with multi-coloured houses arranged all up the hillside.

When we reach the village we discover that one narrow main street winds between the tightly packed houses, just opening out for a small central square. We are very taken with this statue.

 At the end of the narrow, winding street there is a belvedere over the sea: this is the view back.

We retrace our steps and visit the church of San Pietro, which dates back to the 13th century. The beautiful rose window is from 1351.

The inside has a more baroque feel and is richly painted. We loved this, presumably quite modern, stained glass in the east end of the church.

We had seen signs for Manarola and were hoping against hope that the next section of path was therefore open - even though we had been told yesterday that it was closed as a result of the landslide of 2011. Gradually it became clear that it was closed - why weren't there some signs we wondered? The route would have been down 375 steps to pass beyond the station and along the mid-cliffside path to Manarola, no more than 25 minutes away.

The only alternative was a 2.5 hour hike up into the mountains and along a parallel route at high level. We just did not feel we had the stamina for this and so made the switchback descent to the station instead.

With the aid of my zoom lens, I did at least manage a nice view of Manarola from the station platform.

Conditions: warm (25 degrees), still quite humid.

Distance: it is only 3.45 km between the edges of the two villages, plus whatever walking you do in them. The official map suggests one and a half hours for the main walk. We took a bit longer with pauses for rest and photography.

Rating: four and half stars. A varied and interesting section, with more open views than yesterday's

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