Arriving in Corniglia by boat isn’t an option: there’s no harbour here (because of the high hillside location), so if you haven’t walked you’ll arrive by train and I’ll warn you now, there’s quite a climb from the station to the village!
We’d hoped to hike from Manarola so it was annoying to find the path closed, especially as the train takes mere minutes. It’s also nothing more exciting than a mountain-boring tunnel so is nowhere near as scenic as walking or getting the ferry, like we did from Riomaggiore to Manarola.
The slightly trickier location and lack of a pretty port could help explain why it was the quietest of the ‘five lands’ but this little village does have a charm all its own (and in my opinion the fact it’s less busy is part of the appeal).
I did pick up some tourist tat though, albeit practical: my lemon-scented soaps are still making my underwear drawer lovely 18 months later! We also had a fabulous gnocchi-heavy lunch, though I could never tell you which narrow alleyway the trattoria was on…
After some wandering we set off for our next overnight stay: Vernazza. This time we were able to hike the 3.5km, hooray!
The Cinque Terre is a national park so an entrance fee is payable (there are several ‘Cinque Terre card’ options). Hikes are well-marked and fairly easy but some paths are narrow and slippery. My flimsy sandals held up well but I should’ve bought proper footwear (I’ve since invested in some cheap-but-cheerful Karrimor walking shoes, which I love).
The views along the coast are unsurprisingly absolutely stunning. In the photo below Corniglia can be seen in the centre of the frame and Manarola is just visible in the distance, through the haze.
After a couple of hours trekking up and down hills in the high 30 degrees, the sight of Vernazza (and prospect of a gelato) was most welcome.
I’ll be back with details on village number four very soon!