Travel Diary: I Hiked the Cinque Terre in Italy (and Lived to Tell About It)

Hiking the Cinque Terre – in my touristy “I love Italia” t-shirt LOL

Like I said, I don’t even LIKE hiking. The most exercise I’ll do willingly is walk around the neighborhood for a bit every day so that I get some regular physical movement in my life. So when someone on the Tuscany tour suggested that I do the hiking one as well, I shook my head. “No, I don’t hike,” I said. Because I don’t. But last week, in Italy, I did. And it was pretty amazing.

So, the second unforgettable tour I took when I was in Florence was also through Walkabout Florence: the Cinque Terre Trek.

Walkabout Florence Cinque Terre Trek

view of the village of Manarola – on the right are terraces where people grow food & grapes to sell

This tour promised to take us through the Cinque Terre on a one day hiking trip. The Cinque Terre is on the rugged Italian coast in the Liguria region of Italy. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site made up of five small villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The views of the coastline from the walking trails are breathtaking, which is the ONLY reason I undertook this crazy hiking adventure.

amazing view of Manarola and the sea

What I don’t think they stressed enough (in my not-so-athletic opinion), is how rigorous the hike would be. I figured this “hike” would be more of a brisk sightseeing walk. That’s just how I imagined it. I’d heard about the fabulous views from some folks who had done the tour before and they somehow neglected to mention how rough it would be if you’re not used to the hiking life. From Manarola to Corniglia, we had to hike up 368 stairs!

But just like on the last tour, the Walkabout folks took care of us. Our reward for surviving the ultimate Stairmaster was a delicious seafood and pasta lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea. (The meal was included in the price of the tour!)

seafood plate with squid, octopus and delicious regional anchovies –                                                                              they were unlike any of the salty, briny ones I’ve ever tasted

we also ate pasta with green beans and pesto, the famous sauce of the Liguria region                                                      (made with basil , garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese)

To be fair, we did not hike the ENTIRE time. We took trains between most of the villages. We also took a boat ride at the end of the hike to the last village to complete the tour.

boat we took from Monterrosso to Riomaggiore

But man, it was still a whole 90 minute stretch of walking, climbing, slipping, and so many stairs to get through on the main hike from Corniglia to Vernazza. I thought I was going to die. At the end of the hike, I even looked like I was going to die.

This what I looked like after the hike. Dead woman walking LOL

When we got to Vernazza, we were greeted with a small beach, cute restaurants and shops.

small beach in Vernazza

Also, what ended up being the BEST gelato I had in Italy. At Gelateria Il Porticciolo, the pistachio gelato actually tasted like the ground fresh nuts mixed simply with cream and sugar. Heavenly! The cherries and cream flavor also blew me away. Even if you just went to Cinque Terre to visit the village of Vernazza, make sure you get your gelato fix from here!

BEST gelato I had in Italy overall – Il Porticciolo in Vernazza. Get the pistachio and thank me later.

Although I struggled during the hike through the Cinque Terre, it was an incredible experience to see such a beautiful coastal area. Cinque Terre felt like the kind of place you could go to if you wanted to fall off the face of the earth. Just go off the grid. Hide out in the hills, lay on the beach, eat good seafood, and drink wine on a boat out on the open sea.

Photo Gallery: Images of Cinque Terre

click photos to make them bigger

[See image gallery at]

All in all, I could have stayed in Florence yet another week and been perfectly happy, except that one thing on my bucket list was to eat pizza in Naples – the birthplace of pizza! So after the Cinque Terre, I took the train to Napoli from Florence (a 3 hour ride and 68,00 euro in second class).

I was so excited to finally cross my pizza fantasy off of things I want to do before I die. But who knew that getting around Naples would be so…stressful?

Read my previous Travel Diaries:

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