Take a detour on the “Terzo Binario” in Riomaggiore

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.  img_0578The 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 BinarioRiomaggiore’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. img_0596
  • 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.img_0559 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.img_0580

Buona passeggiata!




A panoramic stroll around Riomaggiore

As you probably already know from my previous posts (here and here), the Via dell’Amore connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola is currently closed due to a landslide and at the moment the works to repair it are at a standstill.  The Via dell’Amore was a walk (not a hike) and many visitors are looking for an alternative stroll that would be similar in difficulty (or should I say lack thereof?).

Below you’ll find my recommendation for a panoramic walk around Riomaggiore, which will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete (of course, you can shorten/lengthen this time based on your pace).  This stroll has no stairs involved (unless you take optional ones) so it’s stroller-friendly and could be wheelchair-friendly, too (so long as there’s someone to assist with the steep descent towards the end of the walk).  I recommend taking this stroll in the direction mentioned below, but if you prefer you can do it in the opposite direction, too.


This walk starts at the Riomaggiore train station.   When you exit the train station you’ll see a bar on the left hand side of the piazza called Bar Stazione.  Just to the right of this bar you’ll see a road (wide enough for a car to drive on) going up.  This street is called via Signorini.  Walk up this lane.


Via Signorini will make a hairpin turn (you’ll see there’s a little creek and benches here) and continue up.  Keep walking.


You’ll pass by the public ascensore (elevator) on your right, which is currently closed (*sigh*).


Just after the elevator you’ll see beautiful sweeping views over the Mediterranean (or Ligurian Sea, as this section of the Mediterranean is also called) and you will be able to see the start of the Via dell’Amore.


Continue walking and you will come to a straightaway lined with benches known to locals as the Lissa.  This is a great spot to watch the sunset.


In the cooler months, the Lissa is a favorite place for locals to bring their children to catch some sun.  Looking south, you’ll see glimpses of the marina of Riomaggiore as well as the Punta di Montenero (the point past Riomaggiore’s beach).


Continue walking and you’ll pass beneath Riomaggiore’s Comune (city hall) with its Italian and European Union flags waving above a painted facade.


As you proceed, the historic center of Riomaggiore will be on display with its colorful (and very vertical) buildings clinging to one another.


Continuing on via Signorini, you’ll run into a piazza that locals call the piazzale (the large piazza).  You’ll see Riomaggiore’s main church dedicated to the village’s patron saint, San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist).  This church dates back to the year 1340.


Continue walking past the big church and down the little medieval lane (which is now called via Pecunia).  You’ll pass by Riomaggiore’s tiny post office on your right (blink and you’ll miss it!).  Walk under the archway and you’ll come out to another church (called the Oratorio di Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back to the 16th century).


Make a right and walk down via Colombo (which is Riomaggiore’s main street in the historic center).  This descent is quite steep, so if you prefer you can take the shallow steps on the right.


You’ll make your way through the historic center of Riomaggiore with its shops, cafés, restaurants & take-away places.


When the main street (via Colombo) comes to a dead-end you’ll see a pedestrian tunnel on your right.  This will connect you back to the Riomaggiore train station in just one or two minutes walking and the panoramic loop is complete!


Optional add-ons

If you’d like to make things even more panoramic, you might want to consider these (however, keep in mind these are not stroller or wheelchair-friendly options as there are stairs involved):

  • Detour to visit Riomaggiore’s castle for a beautiful vista point

When you’re on the piazzale where the big church is located, you’ll see a lane with long, shallow stairs going up on the opposite side of the square from the church.  This medieval lane is called via Pecunia.  Walk up these stairs and you’ll reach the castle and some beautiful vista points.  After visiting the castle you’ll want to backtrack to the piazzale to continue the loop.


  • Venture down to Riomaggiore’s marina at the end of the loop

Riomaggiore's marina, Cinque Terre

Instead of heading through the tunnel back to the Riomaggiore train station, take the stairs on the left at the end of via Colombo.  After descending three flights of stairs you’ll find yourself in the marina.  If you’re wanting that “postcard picture” of Riomaggiore, stay to your left until you reach a little piazza where the ticket booth for the ferries and Bar La Conchiglia are located.  This is also a breathtaking place to watch the sunset!


Buona passeggiata!