Refreshed, refuelled and raring to go we set out to hike the Sentiero No 2 between Corniglia and Vernazza. The entire trail is 11 kilometres long and there is an elevation of 500 metres between the highest and lowest points. The section between Monterosso and Cornigilia is apparently the most difficult. We didn’t get to compare – the “easier” parts were all closed thanks to landslides. Anyway, sturdy shoes, hats and water bottles at the ready we found the path and started walking. Paved, flat and a bit of a doddle was our first impression, well that soon changed.
We passed through olive groves and the smell of orange blossom and rosemary was literally everywhere.
This is one of the prettiest and steepest sections of the coastal walk – I can vouch for both of those. Before long a steep, stone staircase loomed ahead (the first of many), thus began (the first of many) groans from Son. We climbed and climbed – dozens and dozens of steep stone steps, thigh testing and great for the bottom, not so great for the knees. Easy is not a word to use here – unless you are a mountain goat. Stamina is definitely required.
The effort is well rewarded. Gorgeous views back to Cornigila and gorgeous views all round. On one side blue seas, the other steep terraced vineyards, stone walls with wisteria and jasmine and all manner of interesting plants like semi tropical aloe, prickly pear and orange and lemon trees.
Some sections of the path were actually flat and easy, lots were not and others hugged the cliff sides hundreds of feet above the sea but it all felt safe and we weren’t too worried about Son scampering ahead. Maybe because scampering was probably a bit of an exaggeration – the steps certainly took the sting out of his tail.
The scenery is just ravishing – no other way to describe it. The distance too is not so bad – it’s the ups and downs that do it. We hiked hard and tough for just over an hour and a half before, perspiring profusely we caught our first peek of stunning Vernazza – the thought of a gelato and ice cold beer put a new spring in our steps.
This is not an easy walk for sure, it is though one of the best coastal walks I’ve ever done. Even if (like me) you’re a bad map reader it’s fine, the paths are marked but you just keep the sea to the left (or right obviously direction dependent) and all will be well. A walk with a wow – Son’s words and the best way to describe it.