Monday, June  17, 2019
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After exploring the cemetery, we made ready to continue our journey north. Here we expected to use the low coastal path - #592 sentiero azzurro, which on our maps looked as it was now open. As it turned out, however, this section was also closed through to the next town (Corniglia), although you could walk as far as a small beach area to the north of the cemetary. It was looking like another high-level path for us.

Corniglia was visible from this spot, a very close 1.5 km to the north. It didn't look all that impressive from this angle, though, because most of Corniglia is built on a north-facing slope of a high ridge that juts into the ocean. From the south, one is only presented with 300-foot high vertical cliff that only has a few houses peeking over the top edge.
courtesy RHanel
Portal View
Coastal Path #2
Surf below Corniglia
Path 2 closed
Rockslide Damage
Clifftop Perch
It was by no means the case that we had wasted our time coming out to this little promontory north of Manarola, however, for it provided probably the best view of the town that you can get from land. The view from here is quite breathtaking: an azure-blue sea laps against dark craggy bedrock that rises vertically out of the water. Crowning this bedrock - in fact, in places grafted right into it, rise the multi-hued, multi-colored cluster of buildings that form Manarola. The densely-packed buildings are at once both orderly and slightly askew from one another - well-maintained antiquity at its best. Sprigs of vegetation and the bobbings of colorful fishing dinghies completed the scene.
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Manarola Closeup
Manarola, Cinque Terre
The closure of the coastal trail had forced us back into Manarola, in search of the next higher trail route that would provide us with passage to Corniglia. Map consultations revealed that a combination of paths would get us there; the first of these was trail 506. Similar to the situation in Riomaggiore, we had to walk uphill to the town's upper reaches until we came to a signed junction. And again, like in Riomaggiore, this junction occurred along the town's only autocar street, just below the Piazza Pope Innocent IV (this little square is quite nice, sporting a scenic detached bell/clock tower, a view down to the lower town, and the interesting historic church of St Lawrence, dating back to 1338 - too bad the pope the square was named after was neither nice or innocent).
courtesy RHanel
Manarola Main Drag
Manarola's Old Millstone
506 Start
courtesy RHanel
Piazza Pope Innocent IV
St Lawrence Rose Window
Much like the ascent out of Riomaggiore on trail 531, trail 506 out of Manarola utilizes a route through working hillside vineyards and groves, utilizing terraces and old stone stairways. The first stretch is especially nice, however, as it curves around almost completely on the level and begins a smooth traverse back towards the coast with the rooftops of upper Manarola in full view.
courtesy JInnes
506 to Corniglia
Starting journey to Corniglia
Nice town-side traverse
Upper Manarola
After less than a hundred metres of this scenic horizontal traverse, the trail then makes a sharp right, and starts climbing straight up the terraced slope north of the town. In a few short but strenuous minutes, we arrived at the crest of the ridgeline above the hill, where we began some more beautiful terrace walking and ridgecrest hiking through vineyards, except this time with an expansive view of the sea on one side and the buildings of Manarola on the other.
Vineyard Paths
Climbing higher on 506
Leaving Manarola
courtesy RHanel
courtesy RHanel
Not a handrail
Crest Above Manarola
Passing small shrine
Trailbed map
Manarola now far below
At about the 180m level (600'), the trail stops climbing the ridgecrest and makes an abrupt right (the laneway straight ahead is for private farm access, and a couple of custom painted signs on the trail and old brickwork attest to the many times hikers failed to make the proper turn here). Another easy stretch of nearly completely flat trail along a vineyard terrace followed, leading east, back into the little valley we were in and away from the coast.
courtesy JInnes
Jenn, old farm building
Pleasant Vineyard Path
Pleasant Vineyard Path
We continued to follow trail 506 as it contoured further back into the valley, and soon the views of the coast and of Manarola were lost. We were clearly walking through active vineyards - endless bunches of ripe and juicy-looking red and white grapes lined the trail. Periodically we would come to a homemade sign that admonished (curiously, in english) hikers to not touch or eat the grapes.
Progress Sign
The Hills of the Cinque Terre
Loose-y English Hands
A total of perhaps ten minutes of walking along on the level brought us around a corner to a trail junction only a few metres away from the SP51 - the main provincial road that ran through these hills. Heading right would continue to the little roadside community of Groppo, a short way further up this little side valley.

Heading left would take us upward, still on 506, on a track to a hillside community called Volastra. From there we'd take another trail bound for Corniglia, the third of the cinque terre towns (and, of course, our "home base" for our stay in the area).
Groppo Trail Junction
Old Track
Trail junction near Groppo
Our resumption of upward travel was along what I'd best describe as a very old farm road - perhaps a metre and a half wide and rustically cobblestoned. At a moderate grade, we curved back towards the coast, climbing past old farm buildings - some seemingly still functional, and some very much abandoned. The path then began to climb steadily through shady groves of olive trees and past old stone walls.
courtesy RHanel
Old Track
Used to be trail 6
Well-cut
Climbing ever higher
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