Corniglia, the third village in the Cinque Terre, is the smallest of the villages here and the only one that cannot be reached from the sea, being at a height of over 100 meters.
Boats with tourists pass by it and they inform you about this, and you sit and flip a coin to decide if you should come here by train or on foot, you take beautiful pictures from the sea and it never occurs to you that once you decide to come to Corniglia, you have to climb hundreds of steps…
I myself decided to take the train from Riomaggiore. In a few minutes, I was already there.
The train practically leaves you at the foot of the village. You walk a few hundred meters, towards “the stairs!!!”, a good opportunity to remember what you read/learned about Corniglia.
It is one of the richest villages in history. In 177 BC, the invading Romans came here to show their power. And, as they had some power, they defeated the Ligurians and took possession of the territory.
The time of division came and, after playing “one for me and one for you”, a family called Cornelia received a large piece of vineyards here – hence the name of the village.
(Another source says that the name comes from the Roman colonist Cornelius and his mother, Cornelia. Whatever, same difference…)
The village was built around the 11th century. You can still see here the stone houses, something that I think is very cool! Initially, it was wider to the south, but over the years, due to the strong sea waves that hit the shore, the hill changed and landslides happened. So, at present, a single long rock remains, on which the village sits.
I’m still walking… And I see some stone stuff in the distance. I realize that these are the famous steps you have to climb to get to the village.
YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE STAIRS!
And here are the hundreds of steps. If you have luggage, turn around while you are still close to the train station…
If you have knee problems or if you feel you cannot take it, better forget about it.
Otherwise, it’s wonderful to climb and keep climbing the dizzying zigzag stairway, without seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel”.
There are 365 steps, one for each day of the year!!! Can I climb one a day, please?…
Others say there are 377 steps. Oh, couldn’t there be less? J
I have to admit that it was easier than I imagined to climb them, because they are wide and… climber-friendly, not like those in the Florence Cathedral or in the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome…
And wait!!! There are not 365. I counted 483 steps! (Yes, I’m crazy. I counted them. From the first stairs to the last step. But I did this on my way down. Because while climbing, I was busy trying to survive…)
What??? Is there a minibus that takes you to the village so that you don’t have to climb hundreds of steps?!?! Well, why didn’t I know about it?!?
The first time I went there, not only did I have no idea of its existence and I didn’t even see it around, because I would have taken it…
The second time, when I went there mentally prepared and with a lot of water in my backpack and with a climacool T-shirt on (so as not to have a soaked cotton T-shirt when I get to the village), what do you know: I met the minibus that goes up to the village. And, on top of that, I didn’t even have to pay anything, because I had the Cinque Terre Pass, about which I wrote here! Hurray!
It took 4 minutes to get there by minibus. Clean, dry and with an air of a well-rested tourist…
Right… but let us go back to the steps of my first visit, because there are many who climb them. Some because they are well-trained, others because they don’t know about the minibus J, and others because they want to have nice, firm buttocks…
Come stai? – I hear a local, as soon as I reach the last steps. He doesn’t ask me, but I feel like answering: Antonio, fa caldo! – yet I’m out of breath.
I see the baskets with lemons and my taste buds take over! I get a fresh lemonade. I think the seller considered me sooo sweet, because he didn’t put any sugar in the glass at all. It was as sour as… a lemon!
After I catch my breath, I really enter the village of Corniglia.
IN THE HEART OF CORNIGLIA
The village is pierced by a narrow and long street – Via Fieschi. You can’t miss it. You keep going ahead on it, without needing any map or guide.
It is a pleasant walk, only it costs some money… Because on the right and on the left there are shops with souvenirs, local products, clothes. And even more, every now and then you find a bar or a restaurant.
Taking the main street, in between the houses, you reach a square. In plain light…
It’s a good place to stop. Either if you want to have lunch at one of the restaurants which have a terrace, or if you want to enter the small church (chapel) to put your thoughts in order or to see the Monument of the Fallen from 1926.
Before continuing on the main street to the end of the village, I invite you to climb with me the hill behind the chapel. I know, steps, more steps, but seriously it’s worth another shortness of breath…
VIEWS FROM CORNIGLIA
All the steps in Corniglia are worth the climb. Because the reward is just right: in the highest points of the village, you simply enchant your eyes, your mind and soul with the view that is opened before you!
The sea at your feet is an unbelievably blue! And you feel like the King of the World! …
My eagle eye spots a yellow dot on the water (left photo). Before my imagination goes crazy, I use the camera lens and discover two people in a boat. They simply went out to a gossip on the sea, because no one can hear them there…
The same camera lens helps me see better the neighboring village, Manarola. From a different angle than the one from which I saw it before.
I get back to the square with the chapel and then I go farther on the main street in Corniglia, a street that can barely fit between the rows of houses on both sides.
What could it be like to live in a village on top of a rock, where the street of the village overlooks the sea?…
That’s it, I’ve reached the end of the road. Well, if you consider throwing yourself headfirst into the sea, you can say that the road continues J.
Here you go out on a terrace that you would never leave! It’s a kind of an “observation deck”. And, as a bonus, you have a bar where you can taste something… arrogantly. And of course an instastory really works in such a place…
What you can see from this place:
Me hihihi. Taking a lot of selfies, because I either don’t see because of the sun, or my hair is all over the place, or I didn’t catch the sea as I wanted and other such dramas.
Ignoring people like me, who spoils an exceptional view, you can enjoy more landscapes from this corner, beyond the sea of an ink blue.
You can very well see the terraces with the vines. It is the pride of the local people. They produce a very good quality wine. And expensive…
This wine called Vernaccia, I understand was mentioned by Boccaccio, who praised its extraordinary quality. (I only read the Decameron, but who can remember if he mentioned anything about the wine?…)
THE CORNIGLIA BEACH?
From the category “what can I see from the terrace”, I look for the Corniglia beach…
…but I come across a body of water, between the rocks, where a couple swims. Although I am tens of meters above them, I realize that, as clear as the water is, here you have no chance to swim in the nude or, worse, to make love in the water… All the groups of tourists that hit the terrace can see you. You’ll go VIRAL! J
Instead, you can go sunbathe in the nude on a small beach called Guvano. Although I understand that it is difficult to get there, through a former train tunnel, where you clearly need a flashlight while crossing it. And it is better to ask before if it is still open or not…
The only public beach in Corniglia is not visible from here. Or at least I don’t see it. It is a small rocky patch, which you reach by descending 343 steps!!! Steps again?!?!
Well, if you want beach and swimming in Corniglia, this is the solution. You have two in one: sport and sea…
From the same terrace – it offers you a lot of things, right? – you can see the village from a different angle. Between the pastel houses I see the Gothic Church of San Pietro, which divides the village in two (it can be seen clearly in the main picture, taken from the sea).
The church is a kind of a center of the borough for hikers, as I saw when I returned to the village.
On the steps of the church, the “people in boots” mend their wounds, change their T-shirts, get hydrated and prepare for the next path to the next village. It takes a few hours…
I realize something: for 3 days, since I have been walking through the villages, I noticed a lot of people suffering from back pain. I have never seen so many people getting their backs massaged by their partners J.
HIKING IN CINQUE TERRE
As I was saying in a previous post, there are paths that connect the five villages. Some have a low degree of difficulty, others, a little higher one.
During a long day you can walk through all the five villages. It is important to have a little training, to have good shoes (like boots), sticks, water and, very important, sunscreen!!! Otherwise, you will get burned! Both literally and figuratively.
I’m giving you a tip: if you want to venture on footpaths, Corniglia should be the starting point, because, being a high village, most of the roads take it downhill from here J.
At the entrance into the village there is a nice aunty who can give you details about each path – which is closed, which requires a fee, how long it takes to walk on each one. You can also pay here for access on a path, unless you have a Cinque Terre Pass, in which case you don’t have to pay any money.
I sat and listened to the explanations offered by the lady to some tourists, after which I made the decision to… eat J. What can you do, some with sport, others with food.
WHERE TO EAT IN CORNIGLIA
I have only eaten here once, during my two visits. And I went to a recommended place.
Osteria A Cantina de Mananan is called the restaurant and it is on the main street of the village.
It’s a small place, with only a few tables. I was lucky to find a place without a reservation, because I came in autumn, when there are no huge waves of tourists and I ended up here when it opened for lunch.
I got something simple: pasta with pesto.
I have eaten so much pestoooo since I came to the Cinque Terre, that I think my ears will turn green…
Beyond the food and the drinks, the restaurant puts a kind of “Eater’s Guide” on your table. A list of useful tips, rules to follow, reasons for debates between nations or, more simply put, “man, don’t make fun of our food”…
- dishes based on fish or seafood don’t benefit from the addition of cheese; the strong Parmesan flavor will overwhelm the delicate taste of seafood.
- our Pesto is handmade following a traditional recipe which does not ask for pepper
- it is best to eat one dish at a time rather than having several on the same plate
- to conclude the meal we suggest to have a good espresso or a grappa
- we do not serve Cappuccino or similar drinks
I was a good girl and I complied, so that you know…
I was talking before about the bar at the end of the street, where that wonderful “observation desk” is. It’s called Terza Terra Corniglia. Given the view you have when you sit at the table, I think you need some luck to find a place.
And I’ve heard it’s worth stopping at Km 0. But I couldn’t find place for yet another lunch.
For the locals or tourists who have a kitchen and enough time to cook, it is worth buying fresh fish, directly from the van. Never doubt, it’s good quality!
And let me not forget a dessert… If you didn’t have anything at the restaurant, you have several options in the small confectioneries in Corniglia. I stopped at a gelateria. And I set my eyes on something new:
Ice cream with… BASIL!!! Basil from their garden, as it says on the outside panel. And it is “dressed with extra virgin olive oil”. Now that was unexpected! I bought it, of course! After the pasta with basil, why couldn’t I take some basil ice-cream too… It was good! With a very strong flavor.
Satiated and with glycemia ok, I went to the train station.
I took the many steps, looked with pity at those who were breathing heavily on the way up the hill and I finally arrived at the train station. In my own train station, I would say, because there is nobody here! I’m alone!
Hm… it’s the end of October – I tell myself. You will never see anything like this during the summer.
I’m going back to Riomaggiore, my base camp.
After 3 days, I have 20 gigabytes of pictures and videos!!! You’d say I’m getting ready to make a feature film… The truth is there are so many things to be caught on camera!
I’m halfway through my Cinque Terre trip. Who missed the start, Riomaggiore, the first village, it is here, Manarola, the second village, is here, and useful information for a trip to the Cinque Terre, here.