Liguria, Cinque Terre National Park: amid paths and the sea
It is one of the smallest in Italy as well as the most densely populated: the Cinque Terre National Park, with its atypical landscape, strongly altered by man, has become a World Heritage Site.
The true identifying trait of the Cinque Terre offering its visitors a network of footpaths dotted with scenic routes that they cannot help but fall in love with.
The network of trails
For centuries, the Cinque Terre paths were the only form of connection between one village and another. We are talking about a network of 120 kilometres, which today allows you to cross the length and breadth of the entire territory, offering you various routes.
You can choose, among many, the Terraced Vineyards Itinerary, running from Riomaggiore to Corniglia, but only if you are an experienced hiker, because it is over 8 kilometres long and with 73 metres of altitude difference. You will walk along cultivated gardens, up to the ridge of the Costa Corniolo: from here you will admire the Montenero Point to the east and the Gulf of the Cinque Terre to the west. Then, with the ancient steps, partly in stone and partly carved into the rock, you descend towards Manarola, with its scenic views.
You will also be fascinated by the Ancient Settlements Route, connecting Riomaggiore to Fossola. An even longer, 11-kilometre path runs between dry stone walls, flanked by the Rio Major stream, among alders and black elder trees.
For the more romantically inclined, we recommend the Via dell'Amore, an entirely paved walkway overlooking the sea, which allows you to reach the village of Manarola in no time from Riomaggiore, offering enchanting views.
And again, the Sanctuary and Church Itineraries, like the one that starts from the village of Monterosso and heads towards the Sanctuary of N.S. di Soviore, alternating steps and long stretches of dirt road, through houses, Mediterranean scrub and dense woods of holm oaks and chestnut trees. Or the path to the Sanctuary of Reggio, which winds along the valleys between Monterosso and Vernazza between 500 and 350 metres above sea level.
Do not miss the Monterosso Literary Park, dedicated to Eugenio Montale, to experience first-hand the emotions that the Ligurian poet was able to express in his verses, in an embrace between sea and land.
The Marine Protected Area
The wonderful offer of the Cinque Terre National Park continues with the routes offered in the Protected Marine Area. Routes for swimming, such as the 700-metre-long swimming route in the Cinque Terre MPA, starting in Vernazza, continuing along the coast, bordered by small buoys to prevent recreational boating.
The same stretch of coastline is suitable for snorkelling and kayak excursions, enhancing an extremely scenic stretch of sea, among starfish, lobsters and barracuda.
Diving also for the disabled, for a barrier-free sea experience, such as the one at Punta Corone in Monterosso. The route is marked by a summit supported by pegs and is striking for its seagrass meadows.
The Cetacean Sanctuary
The waters that bathe the five jewel-like villages, nestled between the sea and the hills, are particularly important from a biological point of view and so rich in nutrients that they can be compared to those in the Atlantic.
The perfect way to end your stay in the Cinque Terre National Park is to visit the Cetacean Sanctuary. In this area, in fine weather, you can witness a magical spectacle of whales, dolphins and sperm whales finding an ideal habitat for food and reproduction in the Ligurian Sea.