Reopening of the Via dell’Amore? Don’t hold your breath

Spring 2021.  That’s the projected reopening date for the Via dell’Amore, the beloved and world-famous Lovers’ Lane connecting the Cinque Terre villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola.  The path has been closed to the public since September of 2012 when a rock slide overtook a portion of the path and injured three Australian tourists.  Since then, only a very small portion (circa 200 meters) of the path reopened in 2015.

It has taken over five years to simply procure the €12 million needed to complete the Via dell’Amore project.  FIVE YEARS.  Just to put things in perspective, with an estimated 2 to 3 million visitors per year to the Cinque Terre and with a ticket price of €5 per person (which was the last price that was charged before the Via dell’Amore was closed, although the current rate is actually €7.50 for the hiking pass), the path could finance its own reopening in one year.  And let’s not even mention the potential mancato guadagno (loss of earnings) in nine years of closure as the figures are staggering.  There really is no excuse for such an extended closure and the situation has been under close scrutiny by the international community.  Had the public sector been unable to finance the project in a timely manner, private investors should have been allowed to enter the scene to finance the project and get the ball rolling.

Where’s the money coming from for the Via dell’Amore project?

€2 million from the Regione di Liguria (the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located)

+ €3 million from the Ministero dell’Ambiente (Ministry of the Environment)

+ €7 million FSC funds (“Fondo per lo Sviluppo e la Coesione,” funds from the Italian government for underutilized areas of the country)

= €12 million needed to complete the project & reopen the path

In 2021 elections will be held.  Is it a coincidence that the Via dell’Amore is expected to reopen that year?  Probably not.  Let’s just hope that it’s incentive enough to finally get the path back open.

More details on the Via dell’Amore can be found in my previous posts here:

What’s going on with the Via dell’Amore?

The underwhelming partial reopening of the Via dell’Amore

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!

The underwhelming partial reopening of the Via dell’Amore

In early April, 2015, a small inauguration party was held with local politicians and Italian railway representatives for the reopening of circa 200 meters of the Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane).


photo credit: Città della Spezia News

This tract, considered the first of seven phases of the Via dell’Amore project, includes the beginning of the path from the train station in Manarola to the Bar Via dell’Amore (which is currently closed). For more details on the Via dell’Amore, its history and the current works in progress, check out my previous post here.

As it currently stands, the remainder of the path (from just after the Bar Via dell’Amore to Riomaggiore) is closed while works continue to contain slides and improve safety measures. Statements from the Regione di Liguria  pledge continued funding of 1.5 million euro towards the project with promises of reopening another portion of the path before the end of 2015.

I took a little outing to Manarola to check out the reopened portion of the Via dell’Amore myself.  I was disappointed (but not surprised) to find that signage at the Manarola train station was lacking regarding the current status of the path.   I found myself walking with numerous visitors who were clueless that only a very small portion of the Via dell’Amore is open.  Granted, had they inquired at the Tourist Info points they would have received accurate status details but a strategically placed sign or two would save everyone a lot of time and confusion.

The extensive work that has been done to secure the first 200 meters of the path is evident. But the Via dell’Amore, as it currently stands, is anticlimactic.  It’s important to remember that this is a massive project and this is just the first of many steps towards the ultimate goal of a complete reopening of the Via dell’Amore.

I couldn’t help but cringe when I read the English translation. I’d happily offer my translation services for free!

At the moment, my advice is to skip the Via dell’Amore.  In the meantime, you can take a lovely stroll in Manarola out to Punta Bonfiglio. Or, if you’re in Riomaggiore you can take a panoramic walk around the village on via Signorini, which starts at the Riomaggiore train station.

If you’d like to see the behind the scenes work that took place to reopen these first 200 meters of the Via dell’Amore, check this out.

What’s going on with the Via dell’Amore?

Update 2017:  The works on the Via dell’Amore are at a complete standstill.  The local city  hall is waiting on national public funds to be released to pay for the extensive repair costs.  It sounds like it could be a very, very long wait.  *sigh*

The Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane) connects the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola and is the most famous portion of the Sentiero Azzurro (the path along the coast that connects all five villages of the Cinque Terre).  The Via dell’Amore has become a world-famous landmark in its own right, and is especially popular with visitors to the area (as it’s an easy 20 minute stroll along the waterfront rather than a vigorous hike like the remainder of the Sentiero Azzurro).  For locals, it has played an integral role in unifying the two villages and their residents.

A wedding party traveling from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the Via dell'Amore.   photo credit: M. Ravecca, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

A wedding party traveling from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the Via dell’Amore.
photo credit: M. Ravecca, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

Since its creation in the early 1900s, the Via dell’Amore has faced numerous periods of closure due to rock slides. Eventually, a tunnel was constructed for a portion of the path that was particularly prone to slides and steel netting was pinned to the mountainside in other areas at risk.  Obviously, the unique geography of this land with its steeps cliffs and rocky terrain makes for a constant struggle to keep slides at bay despite safety measures.  In September of 2012 an extensive slide closed the Via dell’Amore until present day.

The Via dell'Amore in the 60s/70s, before safety measures were instated. photo credit:  Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

The Via dell’Amore in the 60s/70s, before safety measures were instated.
photo credit: Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

Regarding the Via dell’Amore’s most recent closure, here are the facts:

  • September 24, 2012:  A rockslide on the Via dell’Amore injures four Australian tourists, two of which are hospitalized.
photo credit: Pistelli

photo credit: Pistelli

  • From that moment, the Via dell’Amore is officially closed by local ordinance and is sequestered by the Italian Procura (prosecutor’s office) while the slide and its cause are under investigation.
  • February 25, 2013:  The Italian Procura releases the Via dell’Amore back to the Comune di Riomaggiore, under explicit directions that the path is not to be reopened to the public until it is messa in sicurezza (deemed safe).
  • March 14, 2013:  The Regione Liguria proffers €800,000 euro to help with costs for the messa in sicurezza of the Via dell’Amore.  These funds were originally earmarked for a different project in our territory.
  • April 18, 2013:  Riomaggiore’s mayor as well as numerous experts in geological hazards perform their first official inspection of the Via dell’Amore.
  • April 22, 2013:  After the inspection, the Comune di Riomaggiore proposes that an extensive study be conducted by geologists and other professionals in the sector, detailing the current state of the path (and the terrain both above and below it) and what operations will be required in order to make the Via dell’Amore safe.  This is the beginning of a long and arduous process (and paper trail).
  • September 26, 2014:  An accord is signed between the Comune di Riomaggiore, Regione Liguria and the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (the Italian railway) to authorize work on the portion of the Via dell’Amore directly above the Manarola railway station.
  • January 13, 2015:  Work on the portion of the Via dell’Amore above the railway station in Manarola begins.  Works for this phase will extend from the railway station in Manarola to the Bar Via dell’Amore (circa 200 meters).


  • April 3, 2015:  Inauguration for the reopening of the first 200 meters of the Via dell’Amore (from the Manarola railway station to the Bar Via dell’Amore).
  • April 3, 2015:  The Regione di Liguria issues a press release pledging 1.5 million euro towards the Via dell’Amore project and promises another portion of the path will reopen before the end of 2015.
photo credit:  Comune di Riomaggiore

photo credit: Comune di Riomaggiore

Due to miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape and the slow motion grindings of Italy, the future of the Via dell’Amore at the moment looks grim.  The best case scenario for 2015 is that the portion of the Via dell’Amore between the Manarola railway station and the Bar Via dell’Amore will reopen.  As this is just one portion of the path (experts have divided the work into a total of seven sections based on geological surveys), you can probably imagine just how long the works on the Via dell’Amore will take to conclude.

photo credit: G. Pecunia, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

photo credit: G. Pecunia, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

For locals, the Via dell’Amore is more than just a touristic attraction; it’s the lifeline between two medieval villages.  It’s a place for elderly residents to sit in the sun and reminisce with one another.  It’s a place for young families to take their little ones on their first walks.  The closure of the Via dell’Amore is much more than just an inconvenience to visitors to our area, it’s the denial of a legacy to locals.  As can be imagined, villagers are feeling very disheartened and upset.  It’s in everyone’s interest to reopen the historic path as soon as possible.  The question remains, will it happen?  

photo credit:  Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

photo credit: Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives

Want to know a little more about the history of the Via dell’Amore?  Check out this article published on the Smithsonian website, penned by Rick Steves.

Want to follow the progress of the Via dell’Amore on the official Comune di Riomaggiore website?  Brushing up on your Italian beforehand is recommended: Situazione Via Dell’Amore

Want to see my most recent post on the Via dell’Amore?  Click here.