Italy

Five Reasons to Stay in Corniglia When Visiting the Cinque Terre, Italy

June 8, 2016

When visiting the rugged coastal stretch along the Italian Riviera known as the Cinque Terre, it can be hard to choose which of the five villages you want to call home. From South to North, the “five lands” are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. While each town has its own character, they are all breathtakingly beautiful, and also all equally serviced by the train that runs from La Spezia to Levanto. By train, these towns are within a few short minutes of each other as you jet through the cliffs. You can quickly hop from town to town (at least when the trains are running on time). We spent time in all five villages plus Levanto, but staying in Corniglia made us particularly partial to this town. If you’re trying to decide where to stay in the Cinque Terre, read on for the five undeniable reasons you should stay in Corniglia (pronounced Cornelia).

If you’re looking for another option when availability within the five towns is running low, Levanto is a larger town with more hotels and apartments for rent. Though it’s not technically part of the Cinque Terre, it’s on the same train route which makes it easy to pop into any of the five villages. Or, you can hike between Levanto and Monterosso (it’s about a 3 hour hike, so maybe not every day).

Where to Stay in the Cinque Terre, Italy: Five Reasons to Stay in Corniglia

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

Cinque Terre Italy Vernazza

1 Head Start on Hiking

We went to this part of the Italian Riviera to enjoy the sun, the sea and the hiking trails. The Sentiero Azzurro, also known as the blue path or hiking path 2, connects all five villages. For tips on hiking in the Cinque Terre, like which hiking pass you need to buy and a list of great hikes, check out our guide here.

As of summer 2016, the portion between Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso is open. The stretch between Riomaggiore and Corniglia closed in 2013/2014 due to heavy rainfall that caused landslides. The trails are expected to be closed for the rest of summer 2016, but you can check trail updates here.

Because of the trail closures, we could only trek the portion from Corniglia to Monterosso. By staying in Corniglia, we got an earlier start on the hike without having to take the train, and had the first stretch of the path mostly to ourselves. It seems that most people start from either Monterosso or Vernazza, so we didn’t pass them until the latter portion of the hike.

Some might count the fact that Corniglia is the only village without a waterfront as a knock against it; in this case, it worked to our benefit as we started high, and ended at sea level in Monterosso. We were descending the long staircase into Monterosso in the heat of the day, which was much easier than climbing up.

You need a Cinque Terre card to hike the blue path. We purchased our daily Cinque Terre card for € 7.50 at the start of the trail, but you can also purchase one in the train station.

Where to Stay in the Cinque Terre, Italy: Five Reasons to Stay in Corniglia

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera
he Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera

Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

he Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

2 Stairway of Heaven

Since Corniglia is nestled high atop the cliffs, you need to trek the 365 steps from the train station to the village. This can be a plus or a minus depending how you look at it, but here, the rewards for hard work paid off. Trekking down the steps in the morning, we had beautiful views of the sea, sky, and lush hillside. At night, I tried not to trip as I stared up at the big dipper (you can see stars here!). There were even the little blinking lights of fireflies guiding us up the steps.

For your initial arrival with luggage, or if you’re simply not feeling up for the stairs, there is a bus that runs from the train station to the village from about 7:30am to 7:30pm. It goes back and forth all day. Buy the bus ticket ahead of time in the train station. It costs € 1.50 from the station and € 2.50 if you wait to buy it onboard the bus.

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia stairs Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia stairs Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia stairs Italian Riviera trekking Sentiero Azzurro or blue path

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera

3 The Best Gelato

If great food is high on your list of criteria when trying to decide where to stay in the Cinque Terre, then Corniglia does not disappoint. Especially when it comes to gelato. Alberto Gelateria has the best gelato in the Cinque Terre. We consume copious amounts a lot of gelato, so we feel comfortable stating this as fact. Alberto uses ingredients grown right on Corniglia’s own hillside for flavors like basil, honey and lemon (check out the size of those lemons in the picture below). Plus, they’re open late, so we could satisfy our craving at 11pm.

We unknowingly were pawns in the gelato wars that are apparently taking place in Corniglia. We initially followed a local vendor’s recommendation to try the first gelato shop in Corniglia, and after rude service and subpar gelato, we were scratching our heads as to why someone would recommend that place. If we have a bad experience, we usually just don’t mention, but from our experience and others, it sounds like an ongoing battle between the gelaterias. So if someone tries to persuade to you venture from Alberto’s, just know they’ve taken sides, and it’s not yours. Gelato in Italy is kind of a holy experience, so we wouldn’t want you to have a bad one.

Alberto Gelateria | Where to Stay in the Cinque Terre, Italy: Five Reasons to Stay in Corniglia

Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Alberto Gelato

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria Large Lemon

4 Getting Away From It All

Corniglia is the tiniest of the five villages, with one main street and no hotels. We rented a room through Airbnb from Beppe, who was the best version of what you would imagine your sweet, white-haired Italian papa to be like. Beppe met us near the main street, and he lead us to one of the colorful, multi story buildings crammed into the hillside that these villages are known for. As we walked down Via Alla Marina, he told us it was “un segreto.” He happily chattered away at us in Italian on the way, and I tried to pick out and repeat the few words I could understand by leveraging three years of high school Spanish. I think our baby was able to carry on a better conversation with him, and Beppe sweetly kept cooing, “Ciao, ciao piccolino.”

While our Airbnb was quaint on the outside, it was completely remodeled and modern on the inside. The views of the mountain and the water down below were stunning, and at night we could here all the frogs cheerfully chirping away in the valley before we closed the window. As another practical bonus of being up above, the only sounds we heard at night were from the surrounding wildlife, and not the train rumbling through.

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

5 Friday Night Karaoke

This small town was packed with travelers and trekkers during the day, most with gelato in hand, but it emptied out at night to just the 300 or so residents and the few people renting rooms.

We enjoyed walking down the quiet streets at night back to our Airbnb. On Friday night we stumbled upon what we at first thought was a neighborhood opera concert in the main square in front of the Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina. The man on stage sounded like a professional opera singer, and we were looking forward to hearing the next song. But then, when the opera singer stepped off and a group of girls got up and started belting out a pop song, we realized it was karaoke! It seems safe to say, only in Italy do you have opera in the karaoke line up!

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Church Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina

Where to Stay in Corniglia

If we’ve convinced you to stay in Corniglia, then check out these amazing places!

Ocean view Airbnb – We stayed in this charming and updated Airbnb with an ocean view! The room was small but comfortable, and accommodated our family of three. If you’re new to Airbnb, check out our referral link here for up to $39 off your first trip.

L’ Agave Cinque Terre – This apartment is steps from the beach. A set of steep steps, as Corniglia is on the cliff, but that just means the views from the rooftop deck are even more incredible. Another few bonuses include free parking and air conditioning.

La Torre Apartments – These newly renovated apartments in the heart of Corniglia accommodate up to four people and overlook one of the main church squares.


 PIN IT HERE

5 Reasons to stay in Corniglia when visiting the Cinque Terre, Italy

Where to Stay in the Cinque Terre, Italy: Five Reasons to Stay in Corniglia

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

The Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria

Cinque Terre Italy Corniglia Italian Riviera Liguria Oratory of the Disciplinati of Santa Caterina

You Might Also Like

10 Comments

  • Reply Anne Harrison June 11, 2016 at 8:46 am

    So want to make it here one day – so jealous, but thanks for the suggestions.

    • Reply nomanbefore June 21, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Hope you can! It lives up to the hype and is more beautiful in person.

  • Reply Adam June 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    That’s the first I’ve heard of gelato wars… but that Alberto Gelateria looks amazing! I can never get enough 🙂

    • Reply nomanbefore June 21, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      It was such a funny thing and made sense after we read the other article about the gelato wars.

  • Reply Neha August 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Nice pictures and interesting perspective

    • Reply nomanbefore August 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks so much Neha! It’s such a beautiful place, it’s hard to do it in justice in pictures. 🙂

  • Reply Which Italian Coast: Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast October 11, 2016 at 7:30 am

    […] in every little osteria in Vernazza, snacking on amazing focaccia, bruschetta and fritto misto. In the evenings, we dived into simple but flavorful dishes, like giant bowls of clams cooked in butter and lemon […]

  • Reply Our Favorite Travel Experiences of 2016 January 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    […] between the five seaside villages in the Cinque Terre was beyond picturesque. And cooling off afterwards with a dip in the ocean and […]

  • Reply The Cinque Terre in 20 Photos: A Guide to the Five Lands of Italy February 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

    […] out our guides for the best place to stay and hiking in the Cinque Terre. If you’re debating between the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque […]

  • Reply 5 Tips for Hiking in the Cinque Terre, Italy May 16, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    […] more information about the Cinque Terre, see our posts on why we loved staying in Corniglia, and how the Cinque Terre compares to another famous coast in Italy, the Amalfi […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Shares