Saturday, August  24, 2019
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Returning back to the Piazza Marconi, we took a narrow tunnel of a laneway that led up sixty or so steps to the street designated as 592 in Vernazza (as in, the street which is designated as the path for trail 592 - the Sentiero Azzurro - through this part of the town). Turning left onto the street and following the red-white-red paint blazes, we soon began climbing steeply up steps towards the north, passing by the Church of Santa Margherita and getting increasingly stunning views back to Vernazza as we climbed.
courtesy JInnes
Start of 592 to Monterosso
Climbing out on 592
Leaving Vernazza
From the vantage points along the trail, the water in Vernazza's harbour was especially striking: the combination of sunlight angle and water clarity made it impossible to see the waterline against the colorful boats moored in the harbour. If it weren't for the wind-tossed surface of the water, it would have looked as if they were floating in air above a turquoise-tinted seabed.
courtesy RHanel
Harbor and Rail Line
Vernazza-Monterosso toll gate
Vernazza from the North
courtesy RHanel
Rustic path
Narrow path leads north
The well-maintained trail climbed up and around a corner, and the views of scenic Vernazza were hidden - at least for the time being. The trail angled diagonally up vineyard slopes and then forest before reaching a nice northward viewpoint along the coast, some 500 feet (160m) above the sea.
Final stretch of coast
Good fencing once again
Good footing, easy traversing
After the initial northward-facing lookout, the trail stopped climbing, and traversed along on the level through shady forest and maquis (Mediterranean scrubland). Again there was heavy hiker traffic along the trail.
courtesy RHanel
courtesy RHanel
Trailside trickle
Nice traverse
Cinque Terre Love Locks
Flat sections punctuated by a few small ups and downs, forest, scrubland, and lots and lots of hikers - this was the name of the game for next kilometre or two of hiking north on 592 towards Monterosso. Periodically there was a nice view or lookout, but there were no continuous open sections like there had been on the leg from Manarola to Corniglia the day before. The trail never reached higher than about 600 feet above sea level (180m), making this the least vertically challenging of the five segments we had hiked.
Dramatic Coastline
Flat, easy walking
Halfway to Monterosso
Hiker density on this stretch of track reached its peak shortly after 2pm. There were so many people on the trail that we literally had to stop at times, pull off to the side, and let a long string of hikers pass in the opposite direction. All types [of walkers] were represented today, and mostly they looked like people who normally didn't hike very much. Some people were hiking with suitcases! In short, this was the busiest, most congested bit of hiking I have ever done in my life (well, at least up to this point).
courtesy RHanel
Hiker Traffic
Incredible Hiker Density
Nice old bridge path
As we approached to within about half a kilometre of Monterosso al Mare, we began to see cultivation again: vineyards, olive and lemon groves. Views of Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost and final of the five Cinque Terre towns, gradually came more into view. It was nice, but much more like a typical Italian town than the others. Where Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza all had the air of a tiny isolated settlement perched on crags next to the sea, Monterosso was wide, broad, and spread over a couple of valleys. It also had a long beachfront.
Super narrow
Vetua wineries
Vetua Wineries
The trail began descending more in earnest towards the coastline and Monterosso. It carefully wound through many different vineyards, abruptly turning this way and that as it followed a terrace or an old stone wall, or skirted the edge of an area of cultivation. A series of steep steps then led down directly to the coastline, where a built-up cliffside walk led the final distance to Monterosso itself.
courtesy RHanel
Deep Vineyard Recesses
Winding through farmland
Narrow descent
Nearing the end
Descending to the sea
Seaside path
courtesy JInnes
Monterosso al Mare
Cliffside 592
Morphing back into town street
Rocky Cove
Northern end of 592
Arriving Monterosso
We crossed above the sun-tanners on Monterosso's large beach as the trail widenened into one of the town's streets. It led us on a gentle downgrade towards the center of the old part of Monterosso, passing underneath the viaduct of the railway line as it did so (Monterosso has an "old" town and a "new' town).
courtesy RHanel
Monterosso Beach
Main Piazza
Our arrival in Monterosso al Mare represented the end of our Cinque Terre foot journey. In two days, we had hike the five towns, from south to north. The total walking distance really wasn't all that much - perhaps 13 kilometres in total, end-to-end. And that figure included taking the longer paths on the Riomaggiore-to-Manarola and Manarola-to-Corniglia legs. A reasonably fit and seasoned hiker could easily do the entire thing in one day. However, there is much to see and enjoy, so taking your time is highly advised.

In retrospect, the closure of the two coastal legs of trail 592 from Riomaggiore to Corniglia turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The alternate routings around these two segments proved to be the most enjoyable - especially the Manarola-Volastra-Corniglia leg. That was by far the most scenic and the least crowded (although also the most challenging walk) of the various segments.

Hike Data - Corniglia to Vernazza
Start Time:
9:43AM
Start Elevation:
346ft (106m) *
End Time:
10:57AM
Max Elevation:
723ft (220m) *
Duration:
1h14m
Min Elevation:
125ft (38m) *
Distance:
2.91 km (1.81 mi)
End Elevation:
126ft (38m) *
Average Speed:
2.4 km/hr (1.5 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet

Hike Data - Vernazza to Monterosso
Start Time:
1:31PM
Start Elevation:
56ft (17m) *
End Time:
3:09PM
Max Elevation:
590ft (180m) *
Duration:
1h37m
Min Elevation:
30ft (9m) *
Distance:
3.57 km (2.22 mi)
End Elevation:
31ft (9m) *
Average Speed:
2.2 km/hr (1.4 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet
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