HIKING IN CINQUE TERRE AND PORTOFINO
The glittering gold of sunlight, the turquoise and emerald green shades of the Mediterranea Sea and the pastel colours of the houses, paint like a magic palette the Italian Riviera. Come and find out why the Cinque Terre and the Portofino harbour are such an irresistible magnet. Discover the enchanting small town of Camogli, and encounter a real slice of Paradise in the process.
Our tour Hiking in Cinque Terre and Portofino is the perfect way to explore the Italian Riviera. The [Cinque Terre National Park], comprising the enchanting, small towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and the Park of Portofino with its spectacular and unique environment, must be explored on foot, on paths that seem suspended between the earth and the sky, slowly, and paying attention to the details. One cannot help but be moved and overwhelmed by the landscape, from any angle of observation. Here you can feel the century-old symbiosis between man and the land that pervades the region, evidenced by the obvious details: the “cian” or steep, terraced vineyards clinging to the rocky sea cliffs; the olive groves further up in the hills; the colorful houses clustered in the tight coves. Day hikes take us along high panoramic paths, removed from the hub-hub of tourism that nowadays marks the rhythm of the Cinque Terre and Portofino. The views are breath taking, while we make our way through terraced vineyards, thick forests. We pass sanctuaries which, perched at 1’500 ft of elevation, are open balconies over the sea. Our first base is Levanto, just outside the boundary of the Cinque Terre. The most interesting example of mercantile port of the middle ages in the area, Levanto has an authentic historical centre, with exquisite masonry work and elegant details, which still stand in testimony of a rich past, culture and tradition. Camogli, one of the most enchanting and characteristic seafaring village on the Italian Riviera, welcomes us in the second part of our journey. Its narrow, tall and colourful buildings beckon the visitor like an enthralling stage set. Camogli is the jump-off point for our escapades in the Park of Portofino a promontory jotting out into the Mediterranean and a unique area on the coast untouched by modern development.
We encourage you to add some extra time to your vacation to explore Genova, one of the most powerful Maritime Republics in Italy, and a city rich in history that deserves a visit. Feel free to ask us for details.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 Arrival – Levanto
Private transfer from Genova Cristoforo Colombo Airport to Levanto, strategically located outside the boundary of the Cinque Terre National Park. While its origins – the ancient Ceula – could even be pre-Roman, Levanto, since the early medieval times, was an important mercantile port, on one of the most important trade routes of the Mediterranean. Its historical centre is an extraordinary display of monuments, architectural details, and palaces, which documents the town’s prominent role through the centuries. Since the 1800s, it has attracted a cultured and qualified tourism. A wonderful short hike, along the coastline, is the perfect introduction to the surrounding natural environment, of great geological interest. We return to Levanto cruising on a typical boat from the Cinque Terre. This is perfect opportunity to see from the Mediterranean a pristine, tranquil stretch of coastline, removed from the hubbub of tourism and public boat traffic, and to take a swim and/or snorkel in one of its secluded coves.
Day 2 Hike above Levanto
Strategically positioned right on the coast of Mediterranean, Levanto is surrounded by a natural amphitheatre furrowed by small valleys, and whose slopes are dotted with charming, unspoiled hamlets dating back to the 13th century. We head out into a pristine environment enveloped in silence, while unparalleled views frame our journey. We make our way from one small hamlet to the next, painted in various shades of red, pink and yellow, typical pastel colours of the Italian Riviera, which create delicate palettes contrasting with the verdant vegetation. We meander through the tight network of passageways, where time seems to have stopped or, least, to beat at a different rythm. During the middle ages, mule paths would connect one village to another, and to the surrounding sanctuaries. The buildings are tightly clustered together, in some cases linked together by vaulted passageways. After a well-deserved, light lunch, we continue our journey, descending into Levanto. Tonight, we head into Monterosso for dinner.
Day 3 Hiking in Cinque Terre – Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola
A spectacular hike takes us along the coastline of the Cinque Terre National Park, inscribed in the [UNESCO World Heritage] list in 1997, and away from the crowded paths. The bird’s eye views over the five small towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Rio Maggiore are simply astounding and, on a very clear day, it is possible to see the island of Corsica, as well as the islands of Elba and Gorgona, off the coast of Tuscany. Our approach to the Cinque Terre towns is superb, and it offers a clear idea of their vertiginous position on the precipitous cliffs. Hiking through luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation and past secluded sanctuaries, we visit Vernazza, defined as the “good living room of the Cinque Terre”, to underline its intimate beauty. The terraced hills, with their bright green vineyards, and the colourful houses, simply create a picture-perfect scene. We make our way to Corniglia, a true jewel perched on a rocky promontory, and the only Cinque Terre hamlet elevated above sea level, with no direct access to the water. Here, we have a light lunch at an “osteria”, carved out in the stone cellar of a house, and recognized by Slowfood (www.slowfood.com) for its commitment to sustainable farming and agriculture. Our hike continues to Manarola, appreciating the arduous, century-old work of men on the land. Olive groves, chestnut trees, agaves and cacti alternate each other, while the perspective over the coastline continues to change. We have ample time to visit Manarola before we return to Levanto.
Day 4 Hike from Riomaggiore to Portovene
We start in Riomaggiore, the easternmost and most ancient hamlet in the Cinque Terre, located on the romantic Via dell’Amore (Path of Love), characterized by caves in the rocks where lovers could find a secluded place. Hard to believe, that the path was originally constructed to find adequate storage for explosives used in the construction of galleries, in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the path is closed for an undetermined amount of time due to landslides. We make our way through Riomaggiore’s intricate, clustered centre, and get a glimpse of the spectacular panorama that lies ahead, spanning from Monterosso to Portovenere, our destination today. Our senses meet the fragrance of the Mediterranean vegetation, changing along the way. We stop for lunch in a lovely hamlet, at a local trattoria, where we can savour home-made wine vinegar, olive oil, and exquisite food. “Zafferano purissimo”, pure saffron produced from the pistils of the flower “Crocus Sativus” is produced in this area. It takes one hundred and fifty flowers to obtain just 1 gram (0,03 ounces) of saffron. Portovenere is also part of the [UNESCO World Heritage], along with the Cinque Terre. First mention of “Portus Veneris” (Port of Venus), an ancient marine hamlet, dates back to 150 A.D. A secure port for the Romans, an important location for Florentine commerce, and an outpost against Pisa in 1113, this extraordinary little town sits at the edge of the “Golfo dei Poeti” (Gulf of the Poets). In fact, many poets and artists, such as Petrarca, Lord Byron, Georges Sand, and William Turner came here to be inspired. Despite tourism, Portovenere still beckons the visitor with its extraordinary beauty, its medieval pathways, the light and colours, and its unparalleled views of the coastline, as far as Portofino. In the company of a licensed guide, we enjoy a tour before we return by boat to Levanto, enjoying the views of the Cinque Terre from the Mediterranean Sea.
Day 5 Sestri Levante – Camogli
Once a quiet fishing village, which developed during the Middle Ages, today Sestri Levante has become a favourite amongst Italians. Though well known in the Roman age as Segesta Tigulliorum, tts roots go as far back as the Ligurian tribe of the Tigullii. The town sits in a splendid position on a peninsula, with the Bay of Silence on one side and the Bay of Fairy Tales on the other, named in honor of the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who lived in in Sestri for a period of time. In fact, each year, Sestri dedicates a festival to the author, loved by children the world over. Historic villas belonging to the Genoese aristocracy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries still stand in testimony of a glorious past. A wonderful hike takes us along a promontory to Punta Manara, through ilex groves, century-old cork oaks, Mediterranean brush and terraces cultivated with care. The views, on a clear day, sweep from the Tuscan archipelago to France. In Sestri, we take some time to explore before continuing to Camogli, our base for the next few days. Of prehistoric origins, testified by three huts dating back to the 13th and 12th centuries B.C., Camogli is the western gateway to [Portofino Natural Park] and an exquisite fishing town in the Golfo Paradiso (Paradise Gulf), a name aptly fitting the spectacular environment of the Mediterranean Sea, olive groves and maritime pines. The town is a most enchanting place, framed by colourful houses, restaurants and unique artisanal shops. Everything, here, has remained authentic. In the late afternoon, one can sit at a cafè by the port, and watch the fishermen unload their catch of the day while the sun casts a beautiful glow on the colourful town.
Day 6 San Fruttuoso – Portofino
We visit the 10th-century Abbey of San Fruttuoso, tucked away in a very small bay at the tip of the Natural Park of Portofino, which can be reached only by boat or on foot. The Abbey is a property of FAI, [Fondo Ambiente Italiano], the Italian equivalent of the National Trust. The first known documents regarding the monastery date back to 984. In 1200, the abbey acquired a small territorial empire and, from this moment, its history intertwined with that of the Doria, one of the most important families in Italian history. We visit the interior of this extraordinary place, exploring its hidden corners. We then continue on foot to Portofino, on a wonderful hike, which starts uphill, reaches a panoramic point, and continues along the coast, directly above the Mediterranean, 250 metres (800 ft.) above sea level. Once in Portofino, we have a quick lunch followed by some free time to visit the small and renowned town on one’s own. Often busy with the yachting crowd, the harbour is a lively u-shape, with a selection of portside restaurants. We rendezvous again to hike to the lighthouse, where the view is splendid. From Portofino, we have the option to continue to Santa Margherita Ligure, following a promenade along the water, or a higher path, or return by boat to Camogli and have some time to explore more of the town.
Day 7 Camogli Surroundings – Punta Chiappa
We explore of one of the most evocative places in the Park of Portofino. Making our way through Camogli’s countryside, we pass small plots of land, where humble patches of olive groves, fig trees, and a few small vineyard stand in testimony to the hard work of the local people. Beyond the walls, we can glimpse at the irregular but harmonious homes, modified based on necessity but in complete respect of the cultivated fields. We reach the small but beautiful hamlet of San Rocco, with its houses painted with the characteristic pastel colours of Liguria. Sitting on a sheer cliff above the Mediterranean, San Rocco is a splendid vantage point from which to enjoy the panorama over the Golfo Paradiso and Camogli. We continue past an exquisite Romanic church and start our descent to Porto Pidocchio (lice port), to underline the tiny size of the port, and Punta Chiappa. In Punta Chiappa, if we wish, we can take a dip in the refreshing and clear waters of the Mediterranean. We have lunch at a simple restaurant that serves freshly caught fish before returning by public boat to Camogli. We have the option to lengthen our hike with a detour to the “batterie”, military installations built by the Italian army as early as 1939 until 1943, when the German army took over and completed the work that we see today.
Day 8 Departure
The trip ends in Camogli, after breakfast. If you are continuining to Genova or other destination in Italy, you can take the train from Camogli. If you need to return to Genova Airport, you can take the train from Camogli to Genova porta Principe or Genova Brignole train station and connect to the shuttle bus for the airport. Alternatively, we can organize a private transfer.
From Euros 3150 per person (this price is based on a group of ten participants)
Euros 590 | Single supplement
Prices are quoted in Euros and based on double occupancy. Cost for the single supplement may vary based on room availibility at tie of request.
What Is Included:
Private transfer from Genova Airport to Levanto on Day 1.
English-speaking guide for the duration of the trip.
Guide’s accommodations, meals and expenses while with clients.
Clients’ accommodations in four-star hotels, in shared double room.
All tourist taxes.
All breakfasts, seven lunches, five dinners.
Water, coffee/tea with group meals.
Private guided tour of Portovenere.
Entrance fees to museums and other points of interest.
Public transportation (trains, boats, buses).
Gratuities to porters, drivers, and at restaurants.
What Is Not Included:
Any transfer from Camogli at the end of the trip, Day 8.
Any insurance (trip cancellation, baggage loss, rescue/evacuation, medical, etc.).
Personal expenses (sodas/alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, etc.).
Additional expenses due to unexpected changes to the itinerary or added activities.
Anything else not mentioned in “What is Included in the Price of the Trip”.
TRIP DATES & DETAILS
2016 Dates: contact us »
Season: May – October
Trip Length: 8 days
Trip Activity [more details »]:
Walking | Hiking
History | Culture
Scenery | Flora | Fauna
Gastronomy | Wine
Traditions | Art | Artisans
Trip Rating [more details]: easy to moderate
The Guide: [more details]:
ACCOMODATIONS & MEALS