What you need to know before hiking in the Cinque Terre

I recently posted this on both Instagram and Facebook, but seeing its overwhelming popularity I’ve decided to publish it here on the blog, too.


Hiking in the Cinque Terre.

What could be better?  But there are definitely some things you should know first:

  • This is hiking, NOT walking. You’ll need to be in decent shape as you’ll definitely get your heart pumping with the steep stairs and inclines.
Photo: Nicole O’Neil
  • You’ll need to be sure-footed. The terrain is uneven and the trails are a combination of stairs (LOTS of them), packed dirt, stones and pebbles.  And oftentimes there won’t be a handrail (heads up for those of you with a fear of heights). img_8707
  • Wear proper footwear.  At the very least, you’ll need athletic trainers (but with decent tread as you’ll need the grip).  Don’t even think about hiking in slick-bottomed shoes, sandals or flip-flops.  Just don’t.  If you do, be warned that you can be ticketed and fined (rightfully so, trail rescues are costly and ultimately Italian taxpayers foot the bill—no pun intended).
  • Don’t hike in the rain.  Trails become slippery and dangerous when wet.  And did you read where I said that oftentimes there are no handrails?  Don’t risk it.  Plus, the trails are officially closed during poor weather conditions.
  • Get off the beaten path (or get a very early start on the popular trails). The Cinque Terre National Park offers 120km of trails, but most people only know about the coastal trail that spans 12km.  I love hiking the lesser known trails that offer just as much beauty and a whole lot more tranquillity. 
  • The best months for hiking in the Cinque Terre are April, May, June, September and October.  July and August are usually just too hot for pleasurable hiking.  Between November and March you can get some great hiking in, but only when the weather cooperates.
Amy hiking to Monesteroli

Photo: Nicole O’Neil

If you’ve read all of the above and you still feel you’re up for it then by all means, get out hiking! You’re going to love it.


Level orange weather alert in the Cinque Terre

Starting at 6pm a level orange weather alert has been issued for the entirety of Liguria, the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located.

The Cinque Terre are located where you see letter C

Meteorologists have forecasted thunderstorms and heavy rains. The alert lifts tomorrow, July 28, at 2pm.

As this is a relatively serious alert, extra safety precautions within the Cinque Terre automatically go into effect: businesses located within potential flood zones are required to close, automobiles must be moved to areas not prone to flooding, the hiking trails are closed and organized tour groups are not permitted to visit the villages (amongst a plethora of other ordinances, but these are the main ones that affect those visiting our area).

If you are staying in the Cinque Terre we recommend buying food and snacks to tide you over as the majority of businesses (bars, restaurants, shops, offices, etc.) are required to close. Only a select few businesses (with secondary emergency exits or outside of the flood zones) are allowed to remain open. If you are out and about during the weather alert, please be prudent.

Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions: May 2019

If you’re planning to be in the Cinque Terre this May, be sure to check out the guided tours & excursions offered by the Cinque Terre National Park.

As you look at the schedule, be sure to keep in mind the color coding for each date:

YELLOW = trekking (hiking) tour, appropriate footwear is required (either hiking boots or shoes or athletic trainers with decent tread)

GREEN = trekking tour (so the same footwear as mentioned above) along the famous coastal trail, all participants are required to have the Cinque Terre Card

BLUE = walking tour of one of the villages (comfortable walking shoes are recommended)

* = If you see an asterisk, there’s the possibility to add on an optional wine tasting (for a nominal fee), which I highly recommend!

If you’d like to join, here are all the important details:

COST: €6.50 per person or FREE if you’ve purchased the Cinque Terre Card for the day (which is €16 per person and includes unlimited Cinque Terre trains and buses + the hiking pass, read more about it here).

*If it’s a date with an asterisk in the description (which means there’s the possibility for an optional wine tasting), you’ll need to enquire about the extra cost as it varies depending on the winemaker.

HOW TO RESERVE: Advance bookings are a must as there are a limited number of spots available. If you’d like to reserve, the easiest way is to email: visiteguidate@ati5terre.it Otherwise, you can ring +39 0187 743 500 (just don’t forget that you’ll need to call during business hours here in Italy).

If you book one of the dates for a trek and/or wine tasting you just might be lucky enough to have local riomaggiorese Chiara Gasparini as your guide. Not only does Chiara have a deep-rooted love for her territory but she’s also passionate about its wine (she’s a certified sommelier).



P.S. You can “like” and follow Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook (Chiara posts daily pics and updates there).

[Updated for 2022] PARKING: A great alternative for those driving to the Cinque Terre

TIP: Staying in the Cinque Terre?  First, check with your host to see if they offer or if they can help you arrange nearby parking for your stay.  If not, keep reading for details on where to park in nearby La Spezia.  

You may or may not know that arrival by car to the Cinque Terre can be a bit hairy and anything but convenient.  The roads are very narrow and winding, parking is extremely limited and quite expensive, there’s a pretty high risk of getting a ticket (if you accidentally enter the ZTL zones or park where it’s not allowed) and the historical centers of the villages are pedestrian-only.

My advice?  Ditch the car before hitting up the Cinque Terre.  If that’s not feasible, you can do the next best thing and park it at the Park Centro Stazione underground parking garage at the La Spezia Centrale train station.

Current published rates for Park Centro Stazione for 2022 are €1.50 per hour from 8am to 8pm and €1.00 per hour from 8pm to 8am. That means the daily rate (for a full 24 hours) is €30.

This parking garage, thanks to its recent construction, is pretty avant-garde for these parts with an elevator that will take you directly to the station, restrooms, 64 closed-circuit cameras to monitor the garage, PIN code access (to both the restrooms and the garage in nocturnal hours) and full automation. Of course, you’ll still want to follow common sense rules of thumb like locking things up and not leaving valuables in sight.

The underground parking garage actually has two entrances:

  • The -1 level is accessed by Via Paleocapa, 7 or latitude: 44.110633 | longitude: 9.815174
  • The -2 level is accessed by Piazzetta Ancona or latitude: 44.110692 | longitude: 9.814421

There are automated signs near each entrance indicating how many spaces are still available for that level. If one level is full, be sure to check the other entrance to see if that level is full, too.

LA SPEZIA PARKING photo credit: ATC La Spezia

If you’re a planner and don’t like the uncertainty of showing up and hoping to find a space (believe me, I get you) you might want to look into booking a space at a private garage just a few blocks (circa 200 meters) from the station:

Private Parking Le 5 Terre La Spezia

Via Migliari, 15 (La Spezia)

latitude: 44.110141 | longitude: 9.817427

Keep in mind that they have only 10 spaces available and it’s mandatory to book and pay online in advance (don’t just try and turn up). The 2022 daily rates range from €10 to €38 (depening on the season). Do keep in mind that they don’t offer hourly rates. You can arrive any time after 10am (you’ll be provided with an access code after you’ve booked) and you’ll need to retrieve your car no later than 10am on your day of departure. Heads up: If you plan to leave later in the day, you’ll need to book & pay for an extra day.

Wherever you decide to park, afterwards you can hop on the Cinque Terre Express train to the Cinque Terre.  To reach the Cinque Terre villages from the La Spezia Centrale train station, travel time is as little as…

  • Riomaggiore: 7 minutes
  • Manarola: 10 minutes
  • Corniglia: 14 minutes
  • Vernazza: 18 minutes
  • Monterosso: 22 minutes

Download the TrenItalia app in advance so you can purchase train tickets on the fly (like I do!), or if you want to plan things out in advance you can check the timetables and purchase tickets online on the official TrenItalia website here.  If you don’t mind standing in potentially long lines you can also wait and purchase your tickets directly at the station.

Want a Plan B (or C) option in case the garage is full when you turn up? Read my blog post detailing parking for free at the La Spezia Migliarina station here. If you’re not a fan of streetside parking, check out my post on two other public payment parking garages in La Spezia.

Buon viaggio!

Cinque Terre guided hikes: March 2019

Spring has nearly sprung and those in the know in the Cinque Terre are gearing up to get their trek on. If you’re planning to be in our area this month, be sure to check out the following schedule:

What you need to know:

  • The guided hikes in March are free if you have the Cinque Terre Card or €6.50 if you don’t.
  • You’ll need to wear proper footwear like trainers with decent tread or trekking boots or shoes.
  • Keep in mind that the hikes will be cancelled if the weather isn’t cooperative.
  • Advance reservations are required so you’ll need to either email visiteguidate@ati5terre.it or ring +39 0187 743 500.



Cinque Terre guided hikes: February 2019

Planning to visit the Cinque Terre this February? The national park offers two dates for guided hikes:

The guided hikes in February are free if you have the Cinque Terre Card or €5 if you don’t. You’ll need to wear proper footwear like trainers with decent tread or trekking boots or shoes. Keep in mind that the hikes will be cancelled if the weather isn’t cooperative. Advance reservations are required so you’ll need to either email visiteguidate@ati5terre.it or ring +39 0187 743 500.



Storm warning affecting Cinque Terre: October 11, 2018

On Thursday, October 11, a level orange storm warning has been announced between the hours of 6am and 6pm. The forecast calls for storms and heavy rain.

In Italy, storm warnings are classified by a color code: green (no danger perceived), yellow (slight danger), orange (moderate danger) and red (extreme danger).

The Cinque Terre villages are located in section C

After the devastating October 2011 floods that took place in Vernazza and Monterosso, these storm warnings are not taken lightly by local city halls.

Tomorrow expect safety measures to be in place. In the Comune di Riomaggiore (which encompasses the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Volastra & Groppo) that means:

  • Local schools will be canceled
  • Businesses located in potential flood zones will be closed
  • Hiking trails will be officially closed
  • Tour groups will not be permitted to board (or disembark from) trains or charter buses in these villages
  • Cars will not be allowed to park in potential flood zones

It is recommended to steer clear of low-lying potential flood zones and to use prudence if you are out and about.

City halls in Vernazza and Monterosso are expected to take similar precautions.

Insider take: These storm warnings are not uncommon but as the old adage says, better safe than sorry. Don’t be overly alarmed but do makes plans to stay indoors tomorrow (and if you do venture out, be cautious). If you can, stock up on food and snacks today as it may be difficult to find businesses open tomorrow.

Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions: July 2018

Hello, July!

Below you’ll find the July 2018 schedule for the Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions.

If you have the Cinque Terre Card you can join these tours and excursions for free. If you’d like to buy the Cinque Terre Card in advance you’ll want to check out my post on the subject here.  If you don’t plan to purchase the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate by paying €6.50 per person.  As these tours have picked up in popularity, you’ll definitely need to book in advance (details on how to do that can be found at the bottom of this post).

The calendar is color coded:

BLUE: A historical and cultural tour of one of the Cinque Terre villages (in comparison to the hikes this is a less strenuous experience)

YELLOW: A hike

GREEN: A hike which requires the purchase of the Cinque Terre Card (as you’ll be hiking on a portion of the coastal trail which requires a pass)

PINK: An e-bike tour

PURPLE: A plogging* hike

*Plogging is a movement that started in Sweden in 2016 and has since spread worldwide.  It’s an eco-friendly activity where joggers, hikers or walkers pick up litter while they are out and about.  It gets two thumbs up from me!

Keep an eye out for the asterisks on the calendar:

  • One asterisk (*) denotes the possibility to add on a wine tasting with a local vintner. I highly recommend this! TIP: Be sure to mention it if you’re interested when you reserve your spot.
  • Two asterisks (**) indicates a tour on an e-bike.  Not sure what an e-bike is?  It’s a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for “pedal assist” (which makes climbing those steep Cinque Terre hills a breeze!).  These tours require a minimum age of 14 years and they are very limited in size (max. 8 participants).  Each participant will be provided with a helmet and a bottle of water.  And of course, proper footwear and attire is required. 
  • Three asterisks (***) is for the option to visit a local farm (for an additional €3 per person).

To reserve your space you’ll need to either ring (+39) 0187 743 500 or email visiteguidate@ati5terre.it


You can follow Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting photos, schedules and updating in case of cancellations (due to weather conditions).



Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions: September 2017

Aaaaaaaah! September is *finally* here. After a scorching summer I’m ready for at least a slight drop in the temperatures. If that happens, hiking will be a pleasure again!

With that in mind, here’s the September schedule for the Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions:
 Keep in mind that if you’ve purchased a Cinque Terre Card then the scheduled tours and excursions are free for you! If you don’t have the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate at the price of €6.50 per person.

Many of the dates on the Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar offer the possibility to tack on a wine tasting at a local cantina (recommended!) at the end of the tour or excursion for an additional fee. The fee for the wine tasting varies (depending on which cantina will be visited and which wines will be tasted), but most are right around the €10 mark (per person). This is a great way to get to know our territory and all that it stands for while also helping to support our local winemakers.

The Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar is color coded so I’ve created a key for you. First, look at your interested date(s) on the calendar above and then take note of the color for that day.

BLUE = Walking tour. This is going to be the least strenuous of the guided options available. The tours are of the five main villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso (just one village per day).

YELLOW = Hiking excursion. The days highlighted in this color will get you off the beaten path (as they are secondary trails rather than the popular coastal trail).

GREEN = Hiking excursion with mandatory purchase of either the hiking pass or Cinque Terre Card. This requirement is due to the fact that the excursion will take place on the coastal trail (Sentiero Azzurro), which is the only trail within the national park that requires a pass.

PINK = E-bike tour. This option is brand new for 2017! While traditional cycling of the Cinque Terre sounds like (and is!) hard work, these new bikes have power assisted pedaling when the going gets tough. I’m seriously going to try this out myself this year! Keep in mind that there are only eight (yes, EIGHT) spaces available per E-bike tour so you’ll want to act quickly and book your spots ASAP. IMPORTANT: The minimum age for this tour is 14 years.

RED = Expert hikers, only. For Septembe, there are currently no red dates on the schedule.

Be prepared

  • For the village tours, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
  • For the hiking excursions, either hiking boots or trainers with decent tread are required. Trust me, you’ll want all the grip you can get!
  • For the E-bike tours, you’ll need to wear comfortable athletic shoes.
  • All of the aforementioned tours & excursions take place in good weather. In case of rain or wet conditions, the tours & excursions will be cancelled.

BOOK IN ADVANCE. Don’t expect to show up and find a spot available. Reserve your spot in advance by ringing (+39) 0187 743 500 or emailing visiteguidate@ati5terre.it

Keep up with Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook by liking and following their page! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting updates, schedules, photos and more.

While you’re at it, have a look at my post on the 8 things you need to hike the Cinque Terre.



International Music Festival preview today in Monterosso 

Today in Fegina (the newer side of Monterosso) preview events will be held for the 36th annual International Music Festival. The schedule is as follows:

  • 5:30pm: Guided walk to points of interest in Eugenio Montale’s childhood. Adequate footwear required for walking/hiking on unpaved paths. The walk will last circa 1 1/2 hours and is free of charge but limited to 25 participants. To reserve call +39 346 8299811 or +39 339 8340911. The meeting point will be at the TI office at the 1st platform at Monterosso’s train station. 
  • 7:30pm: A free welcome aperitif will be served. 
  • 8:30pm: Tales will be recounted of the ties between Montale’s poetry and Monterosso (and the Cinque Terre). 
  • 9:15pm: Madrigal homage to Montale’s poetry (with a pianist, soprano and narrator). 

The latter three events are all free of charge and take place at the Circolo Velico “Gino e Bebe De Andreis” located in the Fegina neighborhood of Monterosso at via Fegina #13.