Camping in Cinque Terre
Trail guide and tips for your camping vacation in Cinque Terre
To visit the Cinque Terre you do not need a car, in fact even a motorcycle is not recommended: the best way is to use the train and a good pair of shoes. Sestri Levante is one of the best starting points for visiting the Cinque Terre by train. Starting from Camping Mare Monti you can choose whether to use the nearest station in Trigoso or the one in Sestri Levante. More trains are available from the latter, usually faster ones, the former is closer. You can also reach it on foot with a one kilometer walk, downhill when you leave but uphill when you return… . There is free parking in front of the Trigoso station, which is sufficient in low season but congested in high season.
We have an active shuttle throughout our opening period to take you to Riva Trigoso station, from there you can reach the Cinque Terre. An interesting, though less economical, but certainly picturesque alternative is to take the boat departing from the port of Sestri Levante and returning to the same or better to the not so distant train station. Using the boat allows you to admire the enchanting stretch of coastline between Sestri Levante and Riomaggiore, and the return by train allows you to choose both the return time and your preferred itinerary. Within the Cinque Terre park, however, there is an additional shuttle ferry service that travels from one town to the next and to Portovenere.
Where to start?
Departure from Sestri Levante or Riva Trigoso by train and arrival in Riomaggione. You do not necessarily have to arrive in Riomaggiore at dawn, the day is long and tiring, it is perfectly fine to arrive by train after 9:30 am. Once you pass the Manarola train station you’d better get up and move toward the doors because very often the train stops in the tunnel and you can’t see the Riomaggiore station at the risk of not getting off and continuing on to La Spezia! Once you arrive in Riomaggiore the first thing to do is to go to the local tourist information office to buy the Cinque Terre Card, with which you will be able to use buses, elevators, walk the trails and get discounts in participating stores. After a visit of about forty minutes in the town of Riomaggiore continue to Manarola following the Via dell’Amore that you can take either from the sea or from the station. The Via dell’Amore is the most famous path in the Cinque Terre and can be traveled in a short time (15/20 minutes), without great difficulty, to reach Manarola. Devote another 40 minutes to visiting Manarola, you can continue on to Corniglia by taking the path by the sea that looks a lot like the Via dell’Amore and is in fact its continuation (Sentiero Azzurro); in 30 minutes you will reach Corniglia. Corniglia differs from the other four in that it is not right by the sea; to get there you will have to walk up a very long flight of steps or take the small bus; once in Corniglia visit it in about 30 minutes and then walk back down to the station to continue to Vernazza by train. The Sentiero Azzurro between Corniglia and Vernazza and between Vernazza and Monterosso is challenging, which is why the train is recommended, so you can devote the rest of the day to visiting Vernazza and Monterosso and still have the chance for a couple of baths.
Early morning arrival in Monterosso with the intention of walking the entire way
If you are a good walker and prefer walking to visiting villages, I recommend arriving early in the morning at Monterosso. It is true that you walk the trail with the sun in front of you, but in the early morning the sun is not so strong, and in any case it is better to start from the most challenging point when you are fresh in the morning and arrive at the easiest part when you are more tired. The walk is not impossible but is not recommended for children and the elderly and untrained persons and should be done with appropriate footwear for a walk on the trails.
Visit in two or more days
So as to divide the more challenging walking sections and perhaps even continue by boat to Portovenere; with more time on your hands, I recommend visiting the church of San Francesco in Monterosso, the parish church of San Pietro in Corniglia, the church of San Giovanni Battista, the Oratorio dei Disciplinati, and Torre Guardiola near Riomaggiore. As an alternative to the Sentiero Azzurro, you can take the more scenic but longer and more challenging hillside paths to move between villages.
What else to say?
Among the various souvenirs the wines such as the typical Sciacchetrà (fortified wine made from raisin grapes), Cinque Terre Bianco and Vermentini wines produced by local wineries are worth mentioning. Regarding the weather, if it has rained a lot in the days preceding the visit, a phone call to the park before leaving is advisable: the dry-stone walls, still built with the techniques of the past, are prone to collapse in case of heavy rains; after violent downpours the paths are often closed for a few days to allow for maintenance. On other walks: worth mentioning is the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre, which connects Portovenere to Levanto about 25 km long; a challenging route for experienced walkers but which can also be divided into several stages; this trail starts at sea level and climbs to 800 meters and then descends to sea level again. And there are also trails to reach the sanctuaries of the Cinque Terre: 5 sanctuaries one per village, with 5 trails starting from the village to the sanctuary. There are also specific routes to do on horseback or by mountain bike.