Cinque Terre National Park, locally known as Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, is located along the coast of northern Italy in the province of La Spezia. As the smallest national park in Italy, it covers an area of 14.9 square miles (38.6 sq km).
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is unique as a national park because of the number of permanent residents numbering around 5,000. The residence is found in five towns which include Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza.
The park is further unique in the way that it brings agricultural, cultural, historical, natural, and scenic significance together under the umbrella of Cinque Terre National Park. It would be fair to argue that it also represents vision and ingenuity with how these towns are intricately embedded into the rugged sides of the cliff.
Each of these five towns is connected through trails that travel along the coast. These trails provide access to the varied flora that exists including Aleppo pine, corks, chestnut, samphire, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and many different succulents.
Cinque Terre National Park is not known for its wildlife; however, it is present. The peregrine falcon and seagull are birds to watch for a while if you are lucky you might also see weasel, badger, fox, marten, and wild boar.
The Cinque Terre National Park is renowned around the world for its unique cultural and natural collective characteristics with approximately 5 million people visiting every year. One of the most coveted activities is the trek from the first to the last of the five towns.
If time allows, it is essential that you explore the towns internally and capture a more comprehensive understanding of what life is like here from this unique perspective of coastal living.
Cinque Terre National Park Trails
The majority of hiking or walking is around and between each of the five unique cliffside towns that are part of the cultural iconic nature of the national park.
Blue Path Trail
This is the most renowned trail as it spans the entire distance between the five cities. It covers a distance of 7.5 miles (12 km) running from Monterosso through to Riomaggiore or vice versa. Unfortunately, damage to the trail has it closed with expectations to be repaired and open back up some time in 2021.
Riomaggiore Ring Trail
This is a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) loop that is rated easy. The trail starts in Riomaggiore and returns back to Riomaggiore with views of the beautiful Sanctuary of Montenero. The church is worth visiting and viewing the ornate ceilings, but the most stunning part of the hike is the panoramic views of the cliffside and waters below.
Vernazza to Monterosso Trail
This is one of the most challenging hikes in the area. The trail is narrow, rocky, and features a steep ascent and descent. It is a two-hour hike covering 1.86 miles (3 km). It provides panoramic views of most of the five towns of Cinque Terre which is what makes the endeavor worth taking. It is recommended that you take lots of water and be in good physical condition.
Cinque Terre National Park celebrates the ingenuity of humankind and their vision for the development of the colorful mountainside towns. The protected area was established to protect the uniqueness and the cultural and hisitorical significance of this remote region. The enchanting nature and impressive architectural vision has earned the UNESCO World Heritage Site status as well.
Cinque Terre Highlights
- Trekking the coastal hiking trails
- Walking the entire trail between each of the five cities
- Exploring the unique culture of the 5 cities that call this national park home
- Italy National Parks, Cirque Terre National Park, http://www.parks.it/parco.nazionale.cinque.terre/Eindex.php, retrieved August 2019.
- National Geographic, Cirque Terre National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/parks/cinque-terre-italy/, retrieved August 2019
- Parco Nazionale Cirque Terre, Official Site, http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Eindex.php, retrieved August 2019.
- UNESCO, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/826/, retrieved August 2019.