Cinque Terre– The Five Villages
Cinque terre is a beautiful area in Italy. It’s on the coast north west of Florence, just above La Spezia. In my opinion it really is a showcase for the best of Tuscany, it is a national park that includes five tiny villages, almost inaccessible, set within beautiful mountainous scenery.
Me and my family loved this are so much, we visited it multiple times. And every time we went we’d have a crack at the trails! Truly a great area to visit for anyone visiting Tuscany. The memories of the five villages Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore will stay with you long after you’ve left.
The run route
The trail route starts in the first village Riomaggiore: car parking is truly scarce and so before you even start the run you get a good appreciation of the ascents that lie ahead because you have to park at the top off the road above the village then jog down.
The trail starts with a flat and well paved path, and you can really appreciate the view of Riomaggiore as you follow the path towards Manarola. The trail remains flat, and well marked all the way.
The first time we did this run we were able to run on from Manarola to Corniglia, which although on less well tread remained flat. However, because of a landslide that closed this section on subsequent visits you have to avoid the landslide by going up and over!
The links between the other villages also require the up and over approach. On small dry paths through terraces and small houses. Each village is unique, but each is spectacularly beautiful.
There are many areas that you can swim between the villages, and although it can get quite busy by the sea, the swimming and diving is definitely worth it. One year we actually swam the Manarola to Corniglia section to avoid the landslide- it was so refreshing to swim after the dusty trails. The beach falls away quickly so you swim over deep crystal clear water with thousands of tiny fish wherever you look. There is a really great map of this area and the possible trail routes here which includes details of the landslides and the elevation data.
I must advise, having ran on these paths, taking water with you is a must. I remember our whole group gasping for water between villages and racing for a fountain as soon as we came down from the cliffs.
As you can see it is a long way down to the sea! you run past grapes and gardens as you wind your way over each cliff. And as you drop down into to the next village you’re invariably greeted with a beautiful panorama.
The easiest way to get to this place is via train and these villages that are so difficult to get to by car, are actually on the main train line from Rome to Genova so trains are regular. More information about the trains right here. The train also provide a good get out clause if you become exhausted and need to get back to the start quickly. The lonely planet have a lot to say about Cinque terre as well- although their article is more about the churches and sights rather than the trails! In the summer the beaches can become quite crowded, but the mountain trails between each villages are much quieter and who can blame the sunseekers, who wouldn’t want to take a dip here: