Hiking the Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore to Montenero
Vineland Paradise Part Two, Hiking from Riomaggiore to La Madonna di Montenero

photo cinque terre vineyards

by David Downie

One of my favorite adventuresome trails in the Cinque Terre runs uphill at an impressive angle for 45 minutes starting at Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the Cinque Terre villages. It leads to the monastery of the Madonna di Montenero.

On this challenging trail you weave among stepped vineyards planted with Albarolo, Bosco and Vermentino grapes, the varietals that are blended together to make Cinque Terre D.O.C. wine. This dry, light white wine is almost unfindable in America. The reason is simple: 9 in 10 bottles of Cinque Terre D.O.C. are enjoyed in Liguria.

The trail also offers a delighful display of olive groves with Lavagnina and Taggiasca olive trees. These local varieties bear tiny, flavorful, black olives. Forests of leaning pine and chestnut trees grow between and above the olive groves and vineyards.

A local Cinque Terre historian I once met says the great-great-grandparent seedlings of these olive, pine and chestnut trees were planted when the trails between the villages were “improved” – by the ancient Romans, in about 155 B.C.

Subtract the two-lane coast road halfway up the hill and the setting does not seem to have changed substantially since Antiquity.

The ancient Romans had strong legs, it’s fair to guess. So do their descendants, some of whom (many are aged over 80) trotted past us as we marched toward our goal. Liguria has one of the world’s highest percentages of centenarians: a healthy, delicious diet, clean air, and lots of walking are key. In the Cinque Terre you simply have to walk, there is no avoiding it.

The Madonna di Montenero monastery’s vantage point is about 1,000 feet above sea level. From it your eye sweeps over the jagged Mediterranean coastline. From one end to the other, Liguria is sprinkled with lavish villas, stone-built villages and the proverbial castles-in-the-air seemingly lifted from fairy tales. On a clear day, from Montenero you can see across the Gulf of Genoa to the Maritime Alps. They etch the western horizon on the border of Italy and France.

Photo copyright Alison Harris
h3. More on the Hike

To hike the entire Cinque Terre, we’ve put together a series starting with your arrival in Vernazza and continuing. Just use the navigation bar below:

Travel Resources for the Cinque Terre

Map of the Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

Wines of the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Weather and Historic Climate

Meet Author David Downie

Compare Prices on Cinque Terre Lodging


Hiking the Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore to Montenero originally appeared on WanderingLiguria.com Sep 16, 2011, updated: Dec 14, 2020 © David Downie

Categories ,

Commenting is closed for this article.

RSS / Atom



liguria guidebooks

Most Popular

  • Lunae Bosoni Winery: Winery of the Year 2020 [612]

    Cantine Lunae Bosoni at the eastern end of Liguria in La Spezia province has won Vinitaly’s 2020 wine of the year award—and it’s an awesome winery to visit, especially during Cantine Aperte, a festival of open wine cantinas.

  • Rapallo as seen from the boar's-eye perspective [210]

    Video footage from above Rapallo: This seaside resort on the Italian Riviera – like nearby Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino – is the height of sophistication. But the mountains surrounding this area are rough and ready. Wild boars abound. Your intrepid reporter David Downie climbed the trekking trails into the mountains northwest of town and looked back down on Rapallo and its glitzy marina, full of the motor-yachts of millionaires.

  • Genoa Province Map [531]

    If you like seaside cities and villages, the Genoa province of Liguria is the place to be.

  • Imperia Province of Liguria Map & Guide [797]

    Start with the amazing cities along the Italian Riviera and their formal gardens, and then head uphill to discover Liguria’s lost-in-time rock cities.

  • Savona Weather and Historic Climate Information [293]

    Savona is capital of the Savona Province of Liguria and along with a fine, Mediterranean climate, has a medieval core with lots to see.

  • Cinque Terre: Update on Rebuilding After Flood Damage [494]

    Although the Cinque Terre suffered heavy damage in the floods of 2011, all towns are open and back to normal. Some parts of the hiking trails are closed periodically due to damage, however usually at least some trails are open.