Groppo

Groppo

Groppo is a small hillside hamlet, halfway between Manarola and Volastra, and takes its name from the stream of the same name near which it was built. Composed of very few colorful houses, it’s definitely worth a visit for the tranquility and the panorama of vineyards and the Ligurian sea.

What to do in Groppo

The answer to the question “what to do in Groppo” is really easy: taste wines from the Cinque Terre! Here you can in fact visit the social winery of the Cantina sociale della Cooperativa Agricoltura Cinque Terre, which organizes visits and tastings all year round, even by appointment. The visit lasts about an hour and allows you to discover the various stages of processing and cultivation. If you want to add a visit to the vineyards, to be agreed in advance, count an extra half hour.

Not far from here, in Pié di Campu area, you can also visit one of the oldest mills of Manarola, recently restored and managed by the Associazione Culturale Radici.

Getting to Groppo

Like Volastra, Groppo can also be reached by car, along the coast road that connects the shrines of the Cinque Terre and starting from La Spezia leads to Levanto. An extremely scenic road, but quite winding and whose track is in some places quite narrow. You can also get there with an ATC bus or with an Explora 5 Terre shuttle.

However, we recommend a walk: starting from the parking in Manarola walk uphill on the right of the stream, until the intersection with the paths 506V and 502 in Piè di Fiesse, here cross the road and keep walking on the left through the olive grove following the indications for Groppo.

Three days hiking the Cinque Terre

Volastra

Three days of hiking in Cinque Terre fly away in a whisker and you will surely leave wishing to come back as soon as possible to walk along other paths you will have to give up the first time.

Three days to hike and discover the Cinque Terre are barely enough, but still a good option to start and this article, considering Riomaggiore as a starting point for the itineraries, is a simple proposal for a program allowing you to visit the five villages and go through some of the most beautiful paths in our area, knowing that there are many other options!

Three days hiking the Cinque Terre

First day

On the first day, you could start with the now-classic path, the SVA path that connects Corniglia to Monterosso: following a rich breakfast in the morning, take the train to Corniglia, to immediately start with a healthy hike overlooking the sea.

The first portion of the trail, up to Vernazza, will take about 90 minutes, walking quietly and enjoying the panorama and the always different points of view. Upon arrival, take some time to visit the village and maybe treat yourself to a light lunch in the square and a break on the rocks before leaving.

The second section up to Monterosso is a little more demanding but equally spectacular: about 2 hours walking reaching 217 meters above the sea level. The landscape is a postcard and we recommend you enjoy it, walking peacefully.

Upon arrival, take your time to visit Monterosso and treat yourself to some time on the beautiful sandy beach before getting back by train, in time for an aperitif with local products and wine, and a typical seafood dinner.

* on your first day you’ll need to get a one day Cinque Terre Card MS Train.

Second day

On the second day, we suggest you hike the Riomaggiore-Corniglia section. A decidedly more vertical itinerary, but wonderful and characterized by vineyards and terraces.

Let’s start with the Via Beccara, recently restored and reopened to the public: about an hour’s hike on a vertical trail, or rather steps, through the vineyards and with breathtaking views. After visiting Manarola, you can leave for the enchanting Volastra. Another vertical climb through the vineyards before a well-deserved lunch break.

From there, the path to Corniglia starts from the square of the Madonna della Salute church, one of the shrines of Cinque Terre. Just over an hour among vineyards overlooking the sea, alternating with pine woods, to end with a splendid panorama from above on Corniglia, which this time you can visit taking as much time as you need.

Once back, before dinner, you could treat yourself to a visit to a vineyard with wine tasting in the cellar.

Third day

On your last day, we recommend a slightly less hiked trail, but an absolutely fabulous one: four half hours walking from Riomaggiore to Porto Venere, passing from the Montenero shrine and the mythical Monesteroli, with its dizzying and endless stone staircase.

The path arrives downtown Porto Venere, a small pearl in the Gulf of Poets where you can spend a few hours after a seafood lunch on the waterfront. We definitely recommend getting back by boat, in time to enjoy the last evening in Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre terracing

Volastra

The Cinque Terre terracing is a legacy of the Middle Age, they are what has shaped us, nourished us, made us special and which today guarantees us an identity and, in a much more concrete way, allows us to live downstream.

Volastra, Cinque Terre terracing

The construction of Cinque Terre terracing

Until the first half of the last century our economy was based almost exclusively on agriculture: vines, olive trees, fruit trees, and vegetables. To cultivate this vertical and rocky environment, the inhabitants began to erect kilometers of terraces supported by dry stone walls and arranged in overlapping bands, starting from the sea level, the ciàn.

A great work of environmental engineering well illustrated in the second part of the video linked in this article, estimated at over 4 million cubic meters of dry stone walls per hectare, for over 3 thousand linear meters of walls per hectare, for a total of 6729 km. Greater than the Earth’s radius!

Our dry stone walls, therefore, have a clear social and cultural value and if you want to know more about these aspects and their recovery, check the Stonewalls for life project.

It is estimated that until the first half of the last century in the Cinque Terre there were about 2000 hectares of olive groves, vineyards, and orchards. Today there are only about 400 of them left, while the Mediterranean maquis and the forest took over the rest.

We advise you to take a few minutes to watch this historical video of the Istituto Luce, showing the terracing construction and illustrating the past local lifestyle.

If you want to know more about the filming locations and the traditions shown in this short documentary, we are at your disposal.

The monorails of Cinque Terre

Since the 1980s, the application of a minimum of technology has begun to facilitate the work of the few who still choose that lifestyle: lighter materials and tools, but above all a network of monorails on which racks with small freight wagons move.

They do not go everywhere, but they are of great help, especially during the harvest period, which once involved carrying baskets of grapes for days, men on the back, and women on their head.

With the monorail and the abandonment of agriculture, even boats carrying baskets full of grapes to the pier disappeared, as now we no longer need to load the baskets of grapes on the gozzi moored under the lowest terraces. The same goes for the olive harvest in the fall.

Immense sacrifices and efforts, which led Veronelli to define the local winemakers as mad angels, whose work safeguards the splendid and fragile landscape of Cinque Terre.

Volastra

Volastra

Volastra is home to the original settlement of Manarola and its name derives from Vicus Oleaster meaning the oil village.

An ancient village with a circular plan, probably of Etruscan foundation and subsequent Roman occupation, today a small hilltop hamlet, known because of one of the Marian shrines of the Cinque Terre, but also because one of the most scenic paths in our area starts from here, between vineyards, sky, and sea.

What to do in Volastra

Volastra

The church was actually first named after San Lorenzo, patron of Manarola, with a certificate from 1240, and only in the fifteenth century devoted to the Marian cult. The building has a quadrilateral plan with a single nave and no apse and an image of the Madonna, crowned in 1861, is venerated inside.

Getting to Volastra

Volastra can also be reached by car, along the coast road that connects the shrines of Cinque Terre and starting from La Spezia leads to Levanto. An extremely scenic road, but quite winding and whose track is in some places quite narrow. You can also get there with an ATC bus or with an Explora 5 Terre shuttle.

If, on the other hand, you prefer a healthy and scenic hike, you can walk and take the path at the Manarola parking lot. After the first steps, parallel to the road, the path runs along the typical terraces mixed with Mediterranean maquis and, once crossed the road in Piè di Fiesse, turns into a long vertical staircase between vineyards and olive trees ending in the village, right in front of a providential fountain! The ascent takes about an hour.

Manarola, history and monuments

Manarola

Manarola, the second village of the Cinque Terre starting from the east, administratively depends on the municipality of Riomaggiore but has its own identity and peculiarities.

It is believed that its name derives from the Latin Manium arula or “small temple dedicated to the Mani”, but there is no confirmation on this. Some historians claim that it derives from an old Manaraea dialectal form dating back to an older Magna Roea, the large water mill wheel.

Manarola

History

What we know for sure instead is that its foundation is due to the downstream movement of the inhabitants of Volastra, an ancient Roman settlement and today a hilly hamlet, back then inhabited by the people of the Val di Vara. The first documents mentioning Manarola date from the second half of the thirteenth century and deal with the struggles between the Republic of Genoa and the Fieschi di Lavagna, beaten in 1273 by a fleet of 14 galleys.

Passed under Genoa, Manarola became one of the major producers of wine and oil on the coast and, in the lower part of the village, still exists an old mill restored by the National Park. During this historical period, men really began to model the landscape and the heroic agriculture that today preserves the Cinque Terre was born then, one terracing after another.

The modern history of the village coincides with that of the other villages of the Cinque Terre and a large part of Liguria. However, the evolution on the urban side is marked with the coverage of the stream that crosses the village, beginning in 1863 and ending in 1978. For instance, in the 1950s only Piazza Innocenzo IV was covered and the two sides of the village till the Marina were connected by eleven stone bridges.

Monuments in Manarola

In addition to admiring the typical Genoese tower houses, today colorful, starting from the top you can visit Piazza Innocenzo IV, with its panoramic terrace perfect to enjoy the illuminated nativity scene by Mario Andreoli, but also the seat of the fifteenth-century Oratorio dei Disciplinanti, also known as the oratory of the Santissima Annunziata or of the Azzurri.

Also on the square, there is also the parish church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, better known as the church of San Lorenzo for the portal that depicts its martyrdom, with its bell tower with a square plan, in ancient times a watchtower. Dating back to 1338, the three-nave church is in Genoese Gothic style, with a local sandstone facade decorated with a particularly elaborate Carrara marble rose window added in 1375, while the baroque interior is characterized by a barrel-vaulted roof.

Manarola also had its castle, a defensive fortress in the heart of today’s village, in via del Baluardo. Over the centuries, however, the building has become a private home and today it is recognizable only for its rounded shape.

On the sea

What to do at the Marina in Manarola? Admire the village and lose track of time looking at the sea … from Punta Bonfiglio you can enjoy a panoramic view of the houses perched on the cliff, a glimpse that you have probably already seen in past known advertising campaigns and certainly in the infinite shots published online by those who have visited before you.

Riviere, bastano pochi stocchi d’erbaspada penduli da un ciglione sul delirio del mare

Here there is also the village cemetery, which is also often immortalized because in an extremely panoramic position and because the end lines of the poem Liguria by Vincenzo Cardarelli are engraved on its facade. This is not the only poem on the walls of Manarola, however, at the end of via Belvedere you will find, in addition to the immensity of the sea, also a small square dedicated to Eugenio Montale and a plaque with verses from his Riviere.

Madonna di Montenero in Riomaggiore

The Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero

The Church of Our Lady of Montenero is the Marian shrine overlooking Riomaggiore dominating the entire Cinque Terre coast and offering a breathtaking view, which from the island of Tino to the east reaches Punta Mesco to the west.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero

It is said to have been founded following the discovery of a Byzantine icon brought by Greek refugees fleeing iconoclastic persecution at the beginning of the 14th century and was attested for the first time in 1335, but the construction as we see it today is the result of various renovations over the centuries. The image of the Virgin venerated today is actually oil on canvas from the 16th century.

Celebrations at the shrine are held three times during the year:

  • May 1st, on the occasion of the beginning of the Marian Month
  • Sunday and Monday of Pentecost, with the celebrations that start on the previous Saturday, with a procession from Riomaggiore and the exposure of the golds of Montenero, the local ex-votos
  • the fourth Sunday of July, on the occasion of the Feast of the Coronation, also preceded by a procession on Saturday

Getting to Montenero

You can reach the shrine by car, parking it along the coastal road and walking the last stretch of the SVA path till the church. The same path, dotted with thirteen votive shrines and called La Via Grande, starts from Riomaggiore, in Lavaccio. About an hour and a half walking through vineyards and Mediterranean maquis.

The Cinque Terre’s shrines

I santuari delle Cinque Terre

The villages of the Cinque Terre are dominated by as many Marian shrines to which the inhabitants are linked by deep and authentic devotion. They are all accessible by car, along the coastal road and are connected to their respective villages by ancient mule tracks and from each other by the Via dei Santuari (i.e. Shrine’s Road), one of the most scenic hiking routes in the eastern Liguria.

We have already talked in detail about the Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero in Riomaggiore and that of Our Lady of Health in Volastra and it is time to introduce you to the other three hilly places of worship.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Soviore

The Shrine of Our Lady of Soviore, 464 meters above sea level, is the oldest Ligurian shrine, mentioned in a document from 1225, where a wooden statue representing the Pietà (Madonna holding the Christ dead body) is worshipped. The organ inside is a Giousuè Agati from 1822.

It is said that in 629, during the attack of the barbarian hordes of Rotari, the inhabitants fled heading towards the sea and in doing so buried an image of the Madonna in the locality of Fontanelle, just below Soviore. After more than a century, around 740, a hunting priest noticed a white dove disappearing inside a tunnel, he was intrigued and returned the next day with helpers who digging on the spot found the Pietà.

A votive chapel was built on the site of the discovery, while the church casket of the Virgin was erected fifty meters above. The cult took on such importance that in the fourteenth century the church was demolished and rebuilt, with the participation of all the citizens of Monterosso. The construction of the portico adjacent to the bell tower and the guesthouse for pilgrims on their way along the Via Romea, which connected Rome to Santiago de Compostela, also began. In the Middle Ages, the shrine was then used as a shelter during the Black Plague.

The Shrine of Soviore, shaded by centenary holm oaks recognized as monumental trees, is celebrated three times a year: on July 7, to celebrate the discovery, on August 15, for the feast of the Assumption of Mary and on Sunday after September 8.

The path that leads from Monterosso to Soviore starts at the top of Via Roma and is obviously all uphill. About an hour and a half walk for 2.75km.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Reggio

The Shrine of Our Lady of Reggio, at 317 meters above sea level, is dated 1248 and stands in the shade of secular cypresses, one of which is the oldest in all Liguria.

The settlement of Reggio dates back to Roman times, when it became an agglomeration around the year 1000 from an important commercial crossroads, before being abandoned to found Vernazza further downstream.

The church with three naves and Latin plan has a Romanesque facade and the painting of the Black Madonna with the Child Jesus that is venerated there is from the fourteenth century. Since 1853, the effigy has been brought to the village every 25 years and remains there for a week, before being transported back to Reggio with a solemn procession.

The inhabitants of the village walk to the shrine very frequently, but the official festivities of the Shrine of Reggio are the second Sunday of May, for the Christ Feast, and the first Sunday of August, Madonna si Reggio Feast. If you are in Cinque Terre on these dates, we absolutely recommend a visit to Reggio, for a decidedly authentic experience.

The vertical path that leads from Vernazza to the shrine starts from the train station is actually a Via Crucis, today marked as path 508 (ex n ° 8). A beautiful walk of about an hour on an ancient pavement, among olive trees overlooking the sea, chapels, and votive shrines decorated with marble bas-reliefs. Upon arrival, you are greeted by fresh spring water, for the Vernazzesi the best water in the world …

The Shrine of Our Lady of Grace

The Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in San Bernardino, at 390 meters above sea level, it is the most recent one, built in the early twentieth century to replace a chapel dating back to 1584.

The church has a single nave and a rectangular plan, with a Romanesque façade surmounted however by a Gothic mullioned window and flanked by a rather massive bell tower. The interior, which has undergone various modifications, preserves a canvas depicting the Madonna and Child, crowned in 1874 and originally assembled together with the two depictions of San Bernardo di Chiaravalle and San Bernardino da Siena. Currently, the icon of the Madonna is placed above the altar while the two saints have been placed in the two ovals on the side walls.

Legend has it that in 1700 the inhabitants of Corniglia went there to restore a painting of the Madonna, finding it suddenly and miraculously intact and with vivid colors.

From Corniglia to the shrine, whose feast day is celebrated on September 8, it takes about an hour and a half and the route starts just outside the village, taking the SVA path towards Vernazza up to the intersection with path 507.

Vernazza, history and monuments

Vernazza

Vernazza is the fourth town starting from the east and the village of Corniglia depends on its municipal administration. The first village of the Cinque Terre, the castrum Vernatio is mentioned already in an act of the Obertenghi in 1080, and the etymology of the name derives from the adjectives verna or local, while from Vernazza derives the Vernaccia wine, produced in Corniglia but taking the name from its port of embarkation.

Vernazza

History

The settlement developed with the move downstream of the inhabitants of Reggio around 1016, after the last Pisan-Genoese expedition in support of Sardinia to repel the Saracens. Vernazza was the maritime base of the Obertenghi, lords of the village until the end of the XII century, when the Republic of Genoa made it a commercial maritime base in 1209, decreeing it a fief of the Da Passano first and the Fieschi subsequently.

Genoa built both a fortified port for the landing of its galleys and a shipyard for their repair. Only a few portions of the walls remain, clearly visible when you hike from Corniglia, along the SVA path, while the lookout towers and Belforte have been recently restored.

Under Napoleonic rule from the end of 1797, Vernazza was annexed to the Department of the Gulf of Venus, becoming its capital after La Spezia and before being inserted in the Department of the Apennines with the First Empire of France. From 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, until the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

What to see in Vernazza

The town winds around Via Roma, the result of the covering of the stream, from which branches of carrugi (i.e. narrow alleys) and very vertical stairways branch off.

Reached the main square, Piazza Marconi, spend some time visiting the Parish Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, whose foundations were laid directly on the rocks in 1318, but whose variations and extensions continued until the whole of the seventeenth century.

In the Ligurian Gothic style, the church dedicated to the local patron saint presents the signs of the Antelami’s workers and its mullioned windows give a very suggestive view of the pier and the Genoese bastion Belforte. Very peculiar the bell tower with an octagonal base and a balcony.

On the opposite side stands the Doria Castle, the defensive fortress built by the Obertenghi in 1056 and then developed and enlarged by Genoa. We advise you to walk up to the castle if it were only to discover the heart of the alleys of the village and enjoy the 360 ° panorama that you get by climbing the top of the tower.

From the tower, you will also notice the Torrione on the opposite side of the gulf and the church of the Convent of San Francesco, today the seat of the municipal administration, but whose cloister is often open and can be visited.

Corniglia, history and monuments

Corniglia

Corniglia is the central village of the Cinque Terre, the only one perched on a vertical cliff, and without a pier. Administratively it depends on Vernazza.

Arriving by train to reach the village you have to climb along the Lardarina, a staircase consisting of 33 ramps and 377 steps. This zigzag pattern makes it a fairly gentle climb and ramp after ramp you can enjoy a splendid view … and if you are really lazy or have some walking problems you can always take advantage of the minibus service that from the station railway leads to the village.

Corniglia

The settlement has origins in Roman times and the etymology of the name, which can also be traced in some wine amphorae found in Pompeii, derives from that of the family that dominated it, the Gens Cornelia. The history, from the Middle Ages onwards, is similar to that of the other villages and has followed its events and development, also on the urban and agricultural side. Corniglia is still surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.

«And then in a white napkin, she brought him two slices of toasted bread and a large glass of Vernaccia from Corniglia.»

(Boccaccio – “Decameron”, tenth day, second novel)

What to see in Corniglia

Corniglia has what is called a ribbon structure, developing along Via Fieschi, which leads from the historic center to the cliff overlooking the sea, passing through the heart of the village, with its shops, bars, and many picturesque views.

Starting from the top, we advise you to stop and admire the village seen from the square of the church of San Pietro, patron of the village. In pure Ligurian Gothic style, dated 1334, while the Carrara marble rose window that adorns the facade is an addition from 1351. The remarkable baptismal font kept inside, from at least two centuries earlier, as well as the frescos and the evangelists’ statues, are remarkable.

Walking downhill and following the road, you arrive in Largo Taragio, an eighteenth-century square overlooked by various shops and bars and the oratory of the Disciplinati di Santa Caterina from whose square on the back you have a splendid view of the coast.

Another unmissable square is the panoramic terrace of Santa Maria, at the bottom of Via Fieschi and overlooking the sea.

Monterosso, history and monuments

Monterosso

Monterosso al Mare, Eugenio Montale’s favorite village, is the fifth of the Cinque Terre starting from the east, the least vertical and the only one also famous for its beach and historic bathing establishments.

The village is made up of a medieval village, Monterosso, and an expansion of the modern era to which it is connected by a very short gallery or by a more panoramic staircase, Fegina, home to the current railway station.

Monterosso

History

According to certain historical sources on the heights of Monterosso, a pre-Roman settlement, Albareto, would have arisen, while the origins of the current village date back to the ninth century, as for Vernazza. The village, Monte Russo, is mentioned in a 1056 Obertenghi accounting document, just before passing under the dominion of the Republic of Genoa, as a fief of the Fieschi and then of the Lords of Lagneto starting from the XII century.

Under Genoa the village became Podesteria of the Capitanate of Levanto, knowing a great commercial and economic development, like the other villages of the coast, with which it also shares its modern history.

What to see in Monterosso

In addition to wandering among the alleys and the colorful shops, in Monterosso, you can not miss the Church of San Giovanni Battista, in the heart of the old village, in Genoese Gothic style and dating from the first half of the thirteenth century, with the typical facade in bichrome vestment and the imposing bell tower located between the apse and the entrance.

A few steps from there stands the Oratorio della Confraternita dei Neri ‘Mortis et Orationis‘ of the 16th century, in Baroque style and a little further away the Oratorio della Confraternita dei Bianchi or Santa Croce.

Reaching the hill of San Cristoforo you will find the Convent of the Capuchin Friars, one of the “Places of the Heart” of the FAI, and the Church of San Francesco, from the beginning of the 17th century, with a Crucifixion attributed to Van Dick.

Walking back down to the sea you can see the statue of San Francesco and Torre Aurora, today a trendy restaurant-bar in an extremely panoramic and romantic position. The tower dates from the sixteenth century and is a testament to the important defensive system of the village.

Leaving Monterosso for Fegina, at the western end of the promenade, stands the famous statue of the Giant, a 14-meter-high restored Neptune.

The Eugenio Montale Literary Park

The Eugenio Montale Literary Park, strongly desired by the Cinque Terre National Park, the Dante Alighieri Society, and the local administration, was born on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the literature Nobel Prize to the poet, to revive the emotions he experienced in Monterosso and transmitted through his verses. The symbol of this literary park is the yellowish pagoda or house of the two palm trees, the poet’s summer residence on the Fegina promenade.

Meriggiare pallido e assorto Presso un rovente muro d’orto, ascoltare tra i pruni e gli sterpi schiocchi di merli, frusci di serpi…

The Park and the municipality organize guided walks along a naturalistic-literary path loved by Montale, which allows you to discover the beauty of Monterosso and the landscape that surrounds it, including Ossi di seppiaMediterraneoLa Punta del MescoI limoni and Meriggi d’ombre.