Thursday, 6 July 2017

Volastra, Corniglia and San Bernardino

Having visited the main villages on our previous trips, our aim today was to be a little bit more adventurous and see the smaller hillside villages in combination with the high trails. We took the train to Manarola to catch the first ATC bus of the day to take us to the village of Volastra. To avoid the heat of the day, we wanted to start as early as possible. The Italian bus timetable meant that our walk from Volastra to Corniglia could only commence at 0930... We found this particular website handy as background reading for the trails. The numberings have changed but it was easy still easy to follow with some signs still indicating the old trail number (e.g ex 6d). The walk amongst vineyards was scenic with spectacular views of Manarola to the left and Corniglia on the left. At least half the walk was shaded which made it very pleasant. The first half at least only had a small gradient of decline. The last section approaching Corniglia was a continuous downhill trek with big steps which my mother found difficult. It took us about 90 minutes in total with some rest stops for my mother. It was a nice way to escape the heat and crowds. We only came across about 20 groups of people at most during our walk.

It seems 0809 is early, No one else catching the train with use to Manarola

The ATC bus dropping us off at Volastra

The start of the trail starts just next to the church.

New and old trail numbers side by side

The start of the trail. Oma still happy, smiling...

Walking through vineyards with ocean views

Manarola down below us to the left

You can just see Corniglia in the distance

This part of the walk is very pleasant

Look for the red and white stripes along the way to mark the paths

At times it seems like you're not on it and seemingly in someone's backyard!

Shady paths make for pleasant walks

Surely Corniglia is close...

When the descent started to get steeper was when it got more difficult

Just confirming that we were on the right path. Was previously 7a

You arrive at Corniglia at the back of the church of St. Peter. This is the front

Our lunch with a view where we sat for a LONG time

The village of Corniglia

She was happy to be able to sit and enjoy a long leisurely lunch at Corniglia. Lunch was extended with dessert and coffee before she finally agreed to move on. The ATC bus transported us from Corniglia down to the station where we trained it back to Vernazza. I managed to convince her to do another trail....

Again, we caught an ATC bus up from Manarola to San Bernardino. Even if you were not interested in hiking, a round trip bus ride might be worth doing if you wish to escape the crowds. The ride afforded amazing views of the region from up high and it was fascinating watching the Italians manouvre 2 way traffic on a one lane windy mountainous road. San Bernardino was very very small and no one else was there when we arrived except one lady who was sitting down to write in her diary. It was a great place to be journaling...quiet (until we arrived) with yet more incredible views. The views on this particular trail were just gorgeous but the walk was definitely a lot more difficult in terms of the gradient of decline as well as the terrain itself. Often we were on open cliff edges with a very steep decline climbing down rocks surely made only for goats. The time of day did not help. It was very hot. I must have said "Look Mum! You can Vernazza. It must be close". My mother was not talking to me by the end of the hike...We stopped at the very first stop which sold drinks which was the one mentioned on the guide we followed for this hike. I must admit the freshly squeezed orange juice was exceedingly refreshing and much needed!

San Bernardino

The first thing you'll see is the church and spectacular views are just behind it

Again it felt like at times we were intruding into people's private space!

This view made the walk worth it

Blue blue waters calling

Views of the hillside vineyards

When the path still felt "safe"

You can just see Vernazza in the distance

Um...where am I suppose to go?!?! The path continued on to the right just in front of the bush on the far right of the photo. That's right! Steep and nothing to the left to keep you safe!!!

Taken from below. Look at the drop!

My mother did not believe this path was meant to be walked on...but here's the proof! Red and white = a path

At least if one was to fall, you would fall into this?!?!

Vernazza is close Mum!!

She's happy! Or to be more accurate, not as angry with me....

What great views to have drinks to!

When we finally reached Vernazza, she really was tired and her knee quite sore. We bought some provisions for a simple dinner and she headed back to the apartment while I finally managed to dip into the azure waters that had been calling me the whole day! It was close to 7pm by the time I got to the water and the majority of the crowds had dispersed. How blissful it was to be in the cool cool water!

Finally made it to the water!

Quiet enough to find a spot

I've noted a few links to help those who may be planning a trip to the 5T:
You can buy ATC bus tickets onboard or at train stations (cheaper). They are free if you have the Cinque Terre Card. ATC buses timetable is updated based on the season so be sure to check for the latest version. They ran pretty close to time except for in Corniglia where they seem to keep running up and down from the town to the station when the bus is filled.

Explora 5 Terre buses were new as of July 2016. This handy site gives a summary of the service although there has been minor changes since then including a new timetable. Unfortunately their buses were not running on the days we were here so I couldn't really give any account on what they were like or if it was better than using trains.

Be sure to work out which combination of transport will work best. This will very much depend on what you wish to see/do. e.g Cinque Terre card vs Cinque Terre Treno (includes trains for the whole day). There is also the option of using ferries to get from town to town. Most of the information on transport and trails are easily found online. You just need to have a plan and do the maths.

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