A long but stimulating itinerary takes you from La Spezia through the Cinque Terre to Levanto, Bonassola, Framura and Deiva. You can follow the coastal road as far as Riomaggiore and Manarola and then take the ancient Via dei Santuari up to Groppo and Volastra. From here you can go on to Monterosso and Levanto. The sea, the hills, the vineyards, the old fishing villages, and the Genoese churches go together to offer some breathtaking scenery.
The only true way to enjoy the Cinque Terre at its best is by foot. On the contrary, by foot or by train, otherwise by foot and by boat.
The Genoa – La Spezia line stops in all the villages along the coast and the boats make regular shuttle runs between La Spezia, Lerici, Portovenere, Levanto and Sestri Levante. And then by foot, through the Mediterranean bush, between heaven and sea.
In fact, the zone of the Cinque Terre is crossed by a knitted mesh of footpaths. The coastal footpath links all five villages, allowing you to be able to hike from the first village to the last village in five hours. Therefore, it could also be ideal to do a single hike or perhaps the more binding along the crest or towards the Sanctuaries: routes or footpaths are numerous, delightful and interesting; they which give a general idea of the area and also offer a brief insight into its exceptional cultural and natural beauty.
The Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Way) is a road carved into the cliffs between Riomaggiore and Manarola. Corniglia stands along a hill and has a protected beach that is ideal for a holiday in harmony with nature. Monterosso al Mare, which has a large sandy beach with many facilities, is also famed for its artistic and natural beauties: you can see the medieval Torre Aurora, which divides the old part of the town from the new part (Fegina), the Crucifixion by Van Dyck in the Church of San Francesco and the eighteenth-century Sanctuary of Soviore on the hilltop.
Lying between these two towns is Vernazza. Its parish church bears the signs of Genoese Romanesque style. Along the hilltops of the Cinque Terre there is a charming path that takes in all of the local sanctuaries and offers breathtaking views as you look down from a giddy height on the towns below: the itinerary that takes you to the sanctuaries located in the natural greenery is truly spectacular. The hanging vineyards supported by dry-stone walls are characteristic of this area and an amazing example of landscape architecture created by man in difficult natural conditions.
The creation of the Cinque Terre National Park and the Marine Reserve, together with UNESCO’s recognition of these areas as part of world cultural heritage, represent a commitment – and a challenge – to maintain this precarious balance between nature and culture. Thanks to the work of the C.A.I., the network of panoramic paths are well-marked and very popular with tourists and trekkers. Some of them are also suitable for horses and mountain bikes.
Levanto is a modern and very inviting town with plenty of accommodation facilities. Worth visiting are the thirteenth-century parish church, the castle and the charming hillside villages. You will discover that peace and silence are a constant characteristic of these spots on the Riviera. You should try and pay a leisurely visit to the seaside town of Bonassola and to Framura, whose picturesque districts run along the hillside down to the sea. The province of La Spezia ends at Deiva Marina, which is another pleasant spot with a fine sandy beach.
The entire Riviera has many restaurants serving typical local dishes, such as the salted anchovies of Monterosso, the “gattafin” (fritters made with wild herbs) of Levanto or the typical seafood and fish dishes. These are all dressed with the finest local olive oil, which has been awarded the DOP “Riviera Liguria- Riviera di Levanto” seal of superior quality. The local wines, which have been famous since ancient times, include the dry white and “Sciacchetra'” (raisin wine) of the Cinque Terre and the dry white wines of Levanto, Bonassola and Framura.