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The Italian Riviera is a walker’s paradise. Over a week this self-guided journey explores the five villages of the Cinque Terre and Portovenere and discovers a traditional way of life that has existed in bucolic harmony for thousands of years.
Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving/departing by train where possible within Europe, as this method of transport has minimal carbon emissions. Please make your own way to the hotel that is centrally located in Levanto (details are in your travel documents). After settling in to your hotel, you may wish to explore the town centre and take a swim at Levanto’s beach.
You will then follow a fairly steep path down into Monterosso, a colourful village, with blue, red & yellow houses that cluster behind the beachfront. There will be time to explore the town before taking the local train back to Levanto. For those who prefer, there is also the option to walk back to Levanto from Monterosso, following a more inland forested path, which will bring you back behind the castle of Levanto. (Walking time: 3-5 hours (5 hours if you walk back to Levanto).
As you approach Vernazza, dominated by its old fortress, you will enjoy some of the best views in the region. You contour around the hillsides will follow a narrow track that leads you up and down, before a fairly steep descent that will bring you into the village itself. In Vernazza, arguably the prettiest of all the villages, there is time to ascend the castle tower for a stunning view of the port with its brightly painted boats. There are numerous cafés & bars where you can enjoy refreshment before taking the train back to Levanto. (Walking time: 4-5 hours)
You may wish to stop and enjoy a coffee break before you start climbing up to the sanctuary of Madonna di Saviore. Here you can have lunch or relax for a while, before walking on to the next sanctuary, that of Madonna di Reggio. The walk then continues more or less along the contour lines; you will then walk through the hills to the little church of San Bernardo, with beautiful views over the coast, and from there you will descend down to the coast at Vernazza again. A shorter option will take you directly from Madonna di Reggio, along a number of little chapels, back down to Vernazza. (Walking time: 4.5 hours)
You will pass through the little hamlet of Campiglia where you can stop for a refreshment. Walking down into the pine forest, the track narrows as you continue towards Portovenere with some spectacular views. Arriving at the 16th century castle above the village, you may be able to see the distant peaks of the Alpi Apuane before a long staircase takes you into the heart of the village. There will be time to visit the charming village and Punta San Pietro, before settling into your hotel overlooking the Gulf of the Poets. (Walking time: 4-5 hours)
Take some time to discover the impressive fortresses and perhaps go for a swim on one of the island’s remote beaches. Upon returning by boat to the mainland, we recommend you visit the charming village of Portovenere itself and choose a restaurant on the harbour of Venus for your last supper. (Walking time: 3.5 hours)
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