I set out for my hike around 9am and really had no idea where I was going. I knew the main path to Riomaggiore was closed, but I was told the entrance to the higher up one was somewhere near the car park. I also knew that you followed the little red/white paintings to stay on the path. I found one and it looked steep so figured it must be it.
Well, I realized quickly that I wasn’t on the hiking path. I was on a path that was overgrown and hadn’t been used in at least a few days due to the number of spider webs I was going through. It was a path the grape harvesters use while working the fields. I could see that if I kept going up it would eventually connect. I came up out of the brush and onto the main path. I took a left and my hike was a very slow pace because I kept stopping to take pictures of things! It was honestly the most beautiful hike I’ve been on. Coast line, lush greenery, flowers, grape plants, butterflies, lizards, blue skies… I was loving it! Then I realized I was headed back down to where I started but on the path I should have taken LOL. So, I turned around again and this time went right at the fork.
I should reiterate how steep the hike was, so to go up-down-up already, I was spent. Fortunately, the rest of the path was straight for awhile. It was the perfect amount of difficultly for me, very challenging, but doable. After another couple of steep inclines, I passed through a little town which I was glad to see. I was super thirsty and hungry so stopped for a Powerade and freshly picked strawberries. I took my goodies and sat down on a picnic table in a park near a church and soccer field. I was imaging what a perfect Sunday this would be if you lived here. Mass with the family, followed by a potluck outside while the kids played (I think there was a country music video like that). After devouring the most perfect strawberries, I stepped inside of the little church. It was nothing close to the Vatican, but I liked it better. I personally think churches should be more humble. I was the only one inside so I sat in a pew and had a few reflective moments to myself.
I continued along and made it to a stretch that was much easier. I had forgotten my headphones and I was thinking back to one of my first posts from January about how I hate walking without music. I’ve actually learned to like the quiet and enjoyed the sounds and thoughts around me. I then walked back down a steep hill (my knees now really sore) and I was in Corniglia. I went all the way down to the train station to find that the path to continue on to Vernazza was at the top of the stair (another right turn that I took a left at). I slowly made my way back up after taking an espresso shot, a bottle of water, spicy nuts and an ice cream from the train station. I also decided I needed some pump up music so I quietly played music out of my speak on my phone as I ascended.
This next leg of the trail was more in the woods, so gave me a break from the sun. The pine forests smelled great and every once and while you would have an opening to get a peak at the coast again. I took this next leg very quickly, and passed a lot of people by. I noticed that the majority were French speaking when they gave me a “Bonjour’ as I passed. I was tempted to stop at this mid-way cliffside bar, but decided if I stop I might not start up again, especially after a drink. Finally, I could see Vernazza and I was impressed from a distance. However, after getting there, it was the most narrow city and also very busy (because of this castle you can tour- side note- small castles have only one stair case for up and down). I only stayed for 30 minutes or so because it was very similar to Manarola, but more crowded. I hopped on the train and was back to Manarola in 5 minutes.
Sitting felt fantastic, so I ended up reading in my room for awhile before heading down near sunset to eat dinner on the pier. I had a (no surprise) delicious walnut ravioli! My table bread, which you pay for as a cover charge, came in a bag so I took that with me for breakfast the next day. I stopped at a little store next to my hotel and bought a small olive oil for dipping.