Cinque Terre National Park, or Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, graces the northern Italian coastline within La Spezia. This national park is among the smallest in Italy, spanning only 14.9 square miles, or 38.6 square kilometers.
Among national parks, it is unique because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to roughly 5,000 permanent residents.
The 5 villages of Cinque Terre
Five seaside communities make up Cinque Terre National Park (Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre).
They are from north to south:
In contrast to the expansive Dolomites, Cinque Terre National Park, spanning just under 40 square kilometers (15 sq mi), offers a unique intimacy.
Cars have been prohibited within its villages for over a decade, emphasizing foot travel along its renowned hiking trails.
Esteemed poets such as Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, Dante Alighieri, and Eugenio Montale have traversed these paths over the centuries, adding to their historical allure.
A mosaic of Cinque Terre hiking paths
Cinque Terre is meticulously designed for pedestrians, featuring an extensive network of hiking trails spanning over 120 km (74 miles).
These well-marked paths wind along the coast, connecting the charming towns, or venture into the scenic hills for more exploration.
The renowned Blue Trail, one of Tuscany’s and Italy’s finest hikes, consists of four sections between the five villages, offering continuous sea vistas.
Covering approximately 11.6 km (7.2 mi) with a 610 m (2,000 ft) elevation gain, it typically takes 5-8 hours to complete. Many hikers, however, prefer to divide the journey over multiple days to savor each village’s unique charm.
The High Trail, also known as Alta Via delle Cinque Terre (AV5T), ranks as the second most favored among Cinque Terre’s hiking routes, offering a greater challenge.
Spanning 35 km (21.7 mi) with an elevation gain of 1,473 m (4,832 ft), it begins in Portovenere and concludes in Levanto, typically requiring 2-3 days to complete.
For those who relish mountainous landscapes, embarking on a Tuscany hiking adventure afterward is a fantastic opportunity to uncover the Garfagnana Valley’s hidden treasures.
Cinque Terre boasts numerous hiking trails, and the official website of Cinque Terre National Park offers an interactive map to aid in planning alternate day excursions or crafting your own multi-day odyssey. These trails encourage a leisurely pace, fostering an intimate connection with the environment.
You can marvel at precipitous cliffs meeting the sea, explore concealed coves with pristine waters, inhale the fragrant scents of rosemary, thyme, and lavender, and savor the sweet life of each charming town.
When should you visit?
The best time to visit Italy depends on your preferences and desired experiences. Whether you are captivated by historical landmarks, thriving cultural festivities, or trying to indulge in authentic Italian cuisine, Italy’s allure is ever-present throughout the year.
To sum up, the park offers an extensive network of well-marked hiking trails, with the Blue Trail and the High Trail providing breathtaking experiences. Italy’s appeal, with its rich history, culture, and culinary delights, makes it a year-round destination.