Village spotlight: CORNIGLIA

Corniglia (pronounced core-neel-ee-uh) is the smallest of the Cinque Terre villages and arguably the most underrated (as it is oftentimes overshadowed by its larger and easier to reach neighbors).


If you are a numbers person, Corniglia is considered the third village in the Cinque Terre (from either direction).

There are a few things that set Corniglia apart from its more popular neighbors:

  • Its location off the sea.

Unlike the other four villages, Corniglia sits on a mountaintop reigning over the sea.  When you reach the Corniglia train station you’ll find that you still have to climb 382 stairs (yes, 382, I’ve counted them myself!) to reach the village center.

The fact that it takes a bit of effort to reach the village tends to weed out visitors that can’t be bothered (which is a BIG plus in my opinion).  Little do these people know, you can actually “cheat” and take a bus up the hill to the village.

Despite that, I still prefer to take the stairs (probably because of my next point). 

  • It has my *favorite* gelateria in all of the Cinque Terre.   


You can get traditional homemade gelato in a plethora of flavors all throughout the Cinque Terre.  And to be honest, it’s all pretty delicious.  But in how many places can you get gelato al basilico, made with fresh basil from the owner’s garden?  Or, gelato al miele made with the honey harvested from local Corniglia bees?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  This place is unico.  What better way to treat yourself after climbing all of those stairs? 


  • Most consider Corniglia to be the only Cinque Terre village without access to the sea, which isn’t exactly true.  

They have this lovely little cove where you can swim off the rocks (granted you’ll have to hoof it up and down the hill but you didn’t come to the Cinque Terre to be sedentary, right?).

There’s also a famous/infamous nude beach called Guvano hidden beneath Corniglia (but you’ll need a boat to reach it).

  • Locals are so nice here.  


While sitting at a tiny café I witnessed a foreign couple ask the barista to place a slice of savory cheese in a sweet croissant (I must be turning Italian as I winced simply at the thought!).  The barista didn’t bat an eye and accommodated their request with a smile.  I must admit, I was really impressed.

  •   It’s less commercial.  

You won’t find hotels here, just a scattering of affittacamere (room rentals).  It’s quaint and personable and you’ll feel like you’re staying amongst the locals.

  • It’s quiet when the sun goes down.


And heck, it’s pretty quiet during the day, too.  If R&R is your scope and you like to turn in early, Corniglia could very well be your own little piece of paradise.


My personal recommendations in Corniglia


Gelateria Alberto, via Fieschi (you can’t miss it!)  

A quick coffee or aperitivo:

Bar Pan e Vin, via Fieschi 123 (this place is tiny and gets cramped quickly… grab a coffee and sit on the bench outside to people watch)


Affittacamere da Cristiana is family-run with love and care by friendly Cristiana and Stefano (they also run the bar listed above)


Corte del Gallo offers a convenient location (an easy and quick walk from the Corniglia train station), beautiful views and comfortable accommodations.  Owners Roberto and Claudia are lovely, lovely people that I had the pleasure to meet when Roberto so kindly volunteered to be Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) for my son’s preschool.  Their stellar reviews just go to show what lovely hosts and people they are! Contact them directly at 

11 thoughts on “Village spotlight: CORNIGLIA

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  3. Love you blog – such the perfect insight to help me get a sense of what to be prep’d for, for when I visit in a couple of weeks. The lovely little bay where you can swim off the rocks you meantion… is it easy to locate? Or do you have some quick instructions to help find it? Love little isolated bays 🙂

    Thank you for this beautiful and honest blog – super excited to visit Cinque Terre for the first time.




    • Ciao Lisa!

      So glad to hear that you are enjoying the blog! The swimming bay in Corniglia is on the opposite side of the mountain as the Corniglia train station. To reach it, you’ll need to:
      -Climb the 382 stairs to reach the village from the train station
      -When you reach the historic center of Corniglia, make a left on the main street of the village (where Gelateria Alberto and all of the little shops are located)
      -Walk down this narrow laneway and make a right where the signs indicate the beach/spiaggia
      -Now go down just as many stairs as you just climbed and you’ve arrived!

      It’s lovely down there and most people can’t be bothered so it’s one of the least crowded swimming spots around. 🙂

      Buona vacanza! & buon bagno!



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  5. Hi Amy,

    In a couple of weeks (mid september) we will be visiting the Cinque Terre region and your website is an AWESOME find for getting some insiders information (read: how to avoid the tourist clichés)!.

    We’ll be staying outside the national park, about half an hour drive from La Spezia. We are a (reasonably young) family with a curious 3-and-a-bit year old boy. Our plan is to go to the Cinque Terre at least 2 days during our stay. Mainly during the day, once to just explore most villages (using public transport) and once for a hike (maybe on Palmaria; we have a Kid Carrier backpack).

    However as I have photography as a hobby I would also like to spend an evening (say 18:00 to 21:00) there to (hopefully) catch a nice sunset, or at least for the much better light conditions. I’ll be on my own (as our son will be out cold by that time, I guess). Do you have any tips for me? What place (location, spot, village) should I definitely visit? Maybe some hidden gem most people do not know of? Is it doable to travel around a bit (maybe two villages). Should I drive up there or just take the train again? I don’t carry too much heavy gear, just a DSLR and a (small) tripod.

    Thanks in advance!
    Cheers, Ronald


    • Ciao Donald!

      Please pardon the delayed reply… school is out for summer so my time is occupied with taking care of our two little ones full time!

      My advice (seeing that you prefer to get a bit off the beaten path): book the Explora bus (it’s brand new, I will be posting about it here on the blog as soon as the kids cooperate and nap simultaneously… ha!). The bus is hop on/hop off and hits up the main villages but also small secondary villages (like Volastra, San Bernardino, etc.) which will most definitely get you off the beaten path. Also, as the buses are small you aren’t going to face the throngs of visitors and big tour groups that you’ll find on the trains. And no worry of pickpockets, either (phew!). The only downside is that you won’t be able to reach Monterosso by Explora as the road between Vernazza & Monterosso is closed. However, you could take the ferry from Vernazza to Monterosso (and back so that you can pick up the Explora bus again). Kids LOVE riding the boat!

      If you are really wanting to get off the beaten path for some AMAZING photos, I would recommend hiking to Schiara (not far from Tramonti, it’s still within the national park). Because of the stairs I wouldn’t recommend it for a little one but if you’re on your own you’re golden. 🙂



      • Chiao Amy,

        Don’t know who Donald is, and I’m not related to the duck (haha, no problem btw ;-). Thanks for your extensive reply – I understand completely that kids come first, same for us so don’t apologize. Anyway I read it just in time (a couple of days before we did visit CT).

        In the end we didn’t actually use the Explora bus or did I manage to hike to Schiara, but nevertheless we did have a nice day in Portovenere with a hike on the island of Palmaria (parked in Lerici and taking the boat is just the way to go!) and on a different day visiting 3 villages of CT (Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Manarola) using the train (and CT card). I’ll post some additional comments in the appropriate article pages as we did use your very useful information when we where there.

        So thanks again and keep up this amazing website. It beats pretty much any other site about CT I’ve seen so far 🙂

        Ronald (and Amy and our 3-and-a-bit year old boy Trystan who had a good time in Italy)


      • Ciao Ronald, Amy & Trystan!

        I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed your time spent here in our area! And sorry about Donald… let’s blame it on autocorrect (ha!).

        Take care and thanks for your comments and feedback!



  6. Out of the 3 villages we visited on one day we picked Corniglia as “the village to have a meal”. Sure enough we enjoy a little challenge so we walked the steps (my girlfriend counted 385, but hey). Although a bit exhausting (especially with a 3 year old on your shoulders shouting “to go up, daddy!!”) we enjoyed the views very much – and indeed it was way less crowded here!

    We had a nice meal at Caffe Matteo and the waitress (didn’t catch her name, she wasn’t Italian from origin) was very fond of our son Trystan; she even played with him with his cars and gave him hugs and kisses. Trystan had a really good time here and we definitely recommend this place. After diner we obviously stopped at Alberto’s for a gelato, and I must say that it was really good (although I didn’t go for the more exotic flavours as I was sharing with my son), so thanks for the good tip!

    We did take the bus down to the station, but just so we could catch the next train 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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