Riomaggiore’s Sentiero del Terzo Binario was recently reopened to the public after years of closure due to landslide, sparking pleasure and nostalgia amongst locals. This path, which is best for those able to climb steep stairs (definitely don’t attempt it with your luggage), clings to the cliffs above the sparkling Ligurian sea and offers glorious views. The path, which is free of charge and starts at the Riomaggiore train station, ends up forking towards the end, allowing you to connect to either via Signorini (the street which is part of the panoramic stroll around the village that I detailed here) or to Salita Castello (a super steep lane comprised entirely of stairs which will either take you up towards the castle or down towards the marina).
Why is it called the Sentiero del Terzo Binario? Riomaggiore’s train station used to have three railway lines, with a middle track dedicated to freight trains and other fast trains passing through without stopping. This middle track has since been removed and the platforms have been renumbered (what was once the third platform is now the second). Even though there is no longer a third (terzo) platform or track (binario), the name has stuck with locals and the name of the sentiero (path or trail) remains unvaried.
From start to finish it will take you circa 10-15 minutes to complete the Sentiero del Terzo Binario but that all depends on how quickly you walk and climb stairs (and if you want to stop and admire the views). Really, there is no rush.
Here’s the easiest way to get started on the path:
- At Riomaggiore’s train station, make your way to the second platform (binario 2); you’ll have to use the underpass.
- Once you are on the second platform, walk south towards the end of the platform.
- Just before entering the tunnel, you’ll see a metal gate on the right (this should be open unless there are rough seas).
- Go down the stairs and follow the path as it meanders around the point.
- I know you’ll be looking out to sea, but don’t forget to look up! See how much work was required to contain the cliff in order to reopen the path? To put things in perspective, this is just a tiny fraction of the work that the beloved Via dell’Amore (which is just across the way) will require in order to reopen. *sigh*
- As you round the corner you’ll see a gap in the railing with horizontal boards barring it. You’ll see a city hall notice posted that declares the rocks as dangerous. It goes without saying that if you jump the fence to bask on the rocks below you will be doing so at your own risk.
- Continue walking along the path and you’ll encounter the start of the stairs. Once you’re towards the top you can look back and admire this view:
- Mind your footing, the steps are quite steep and some are also super narrow.
- When you reach the fork in the path you’ll see signs posted indicating the two different options. If you’d like to head back to the Riomaggiore train station or complete the panoramic loop around the village (that I described here), head to the left. This will connect you to Via Signorini. If instead you head to the right at the fork in the path, you will be bound for Salita Castello. This is a route to reach the marina but be warned, there are LOTS of steep stone stairs to navigate. FYI: there are easier ways to get to the marina besides Salita Castello, like taking the stairs at the end of the village’s main street in the historical center.