Nestled among the cliffs of Italy's Ligurian coast is the Cinque Terre, a land of five villages lost to time. In each town narrow alleyways wander below ancient terraces, wind among colorful buildings, and lead down to the crystal-blue Mediterranean Sea. The mountainsides between the villages are covered with vineyards, olive trees, lemon trees, and other produce. Local restaurants serve up plate after plate of fresh seafood, tagliatelle pasta, and pesto, the regional favorites. As for the traffic? There is none. The Cinque Terre is preserved as both an Italian national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, two designations which should save this delicate landscape for generations to come. This is fortunate for both Italians and travelers because, in short, the Cinque Terre is a little piece of paradise.
And for active travelers? Well, the Cinque Terre is Paradise itself. In addition to the mountain biking, swimming, and sea kayaking opportunities in the area. an extensive network of footpaths stretches from town to town and up into the mountains. The opportunities to hike abound, as do the opportunities to trail run. To help get you started, BTG has mapped out a must-do Cinque Terre trail run. Our route starts in Riomaggiore, the southernmost town of the five, and runs the length of the coast through the other towns: Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. This is the perfect introductory jaunt by which you can get a sense of the territory. After your run we suggest going out onto your terrace, opening a bottle of wine, and planning how next to actively revel in your Italian odyssey.
- Rocky Trail: While the section of the run between Riomaggiore and Manarola is pretty tame, the rest of your way will have a lot of rocks sticking up in your path. Also, after periods of rain and wet, the coastal route is susceptible to being blocked off by landslides. Either way, pick your way carefully when running along these paths.
- Other Hikers: The five towns are a popular travel destination, and you'll likely see people of all nations on the trails. They, however, will more likely be hiking than running. Be sure to excuse yourself as you pass them, and don't get too frustrated if you have to stand by the side and wait for a group to go on by.
- Incredible Scenery: You'll see what we mean when you get there. Just remember that it can be tough to look at the view and run the rocky trail at the same time. Better to focus on doing one or the other.
In the mood to bicycle?
Check in with Tourist Info to find out about mountain bike rental locations in the park. While bicycling is not allowed on the main trail, you'll be able to cover some solid ground on the other trail.
In the mood to swim?
Pull on your trunks and go. The best beaches are in Monterosso al Mare.
In the mood to lie on the beach and drink a glass of wine?
That is eminently doable as well. Head to Monterosso and get your relax on.