Italy – Tramonti di Campiglia – Off the beaten tracks of Cinque Terre
After seeing the five villages enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage of Italy Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Portovenere, you will want to check the next two: Tramonti di Campiglia and Portovenere. They deserve, nevertheless, the same amount of attention. I will give you some reasons to get you interested:
– are less known by the classical sightseeing speed traveler;
– are not on the Five Lands road, but outside the hassle;
– have the preserved local print and authenticity exactly because they are less touristic;
– have lower prices for both accommodation and board.
Let us start with Campiglia Tramonti:
It is 38 km from the closest Cinque Terre village Monterosso al Mare.
You can reach it, like I did, from La Spezia central train station, by taking a mini bus that goes straight to Campiglia. You can buy the ticket from the local tobacco shops, either one in the train station or one close to it. Tickets can also be purchased online. The driver does not sell tickets, at least did not, when I was there. Ticket price is 2.5 euros one way and if you think of going by car, just note that the road from La Spezia to Campiglia is like a skinny snake rolled around a big oak tree. It has tens of turns after turns and you do not have visibility to anticipate if a car is coming or not. For this reason, the driver was slowing and honking before each turn.
If you find yourself in La Spezia central station and do not know which is the mini bus that goes to Campiglia, just go to one of the bus drivers waiting near and ask them. The schedule of the departures is also to be found online, but as a note, count on departures every hour. The time schedules are not respected as time in Italy has another dimension and this is one of the reason you like it in the first place, right?
So, you got on the bus, and are ready for a hiking adventure? Make sure you have left your high heels home, because you won’t miss those. Have water, some chocolate, your sun lotion and a towel. The road ride to Campiglia is spectacular in itself not only because of the turns, but because of the landscapes. You will go up from 118 m sea level in La Spezia to 400 m in Campiglia. Imagine the Mediterranean panorama you have when you get off the bus! It will be the first mind blowing view. Then your rhythm will slow down, and before you notice you will be one with the rural pace of this small charming village. There is an old church and a local goodies boutique right where the bus leaves you.
You have some options which regard spending your time in Campiglia:
– you daydream watching the Cinque Terre panorama over the Mediterranean;
– you either go to the sea;
– or take the hiking trail to Portovenere or La Spezia;
– if you have more days available, start any of the hiking trails and sleep under the stars in a tent or a hammock. There is no accommodation or board on the hiking trails only in the villages you will reach on the way.
I will take you to the sea and the hiking trails:
First The Sea:
Did you ever want to reach a sea shore which was hard to reach and thus reserved for walking enthusiast and thus wild? Are you prepared to see land slides, logs and huge rocks bathed by the sea? If yes, then lets go. We need to walk down from 400 m to 0 m sea level, so count on a 30 minutes walk down. Do not think about having to climb up the same trail, when we return. I will tell you later why not.
Where does the path to the sea start?
If you stay with your back to the church and facing the sea, go right for about 100 meters until you find a path that goes to the left. There is only one.Take that. And keep on walking. There are thousand of old steep stairs, made of stone, some broken, some green and full of vegetation. Gaze up and you will notice the poppies, the lavender and vineyards -they keep you company until you reach the sea. Do not get discouraged if you feel this path never ends. Because it does, and when it does you will know exactly why you signed in to this adventure in the first place.
The beach: I, personally, have never seen a beach so wild, so untamed, so reminding me of nature’s power when water, wind, tides and rocks meet. The sound of it I will never forget. I will leave you here and go back up, just to tell you that the road up was not by far so hard as the one down. I think it was the feeling of being part of such a special place, making me feel one with it- that gave me all the energy to climb those stairs up. Or maybe the thought that I would miss the last bus and had no handy sleeping option.
Second the Hiking trails:
- Trail 1/1 – CAMPIGLIA -PORTOVENERE
Lenght km 4,8, 2h’15
The walk offers breathtaking panoramas over the islands of Palmaria and Tino and connects Campiglia to Portovenere. Start point in Campiglia is the trail next to the church in the town center and ends up in the the famous square Bastreri in Portovenere.
- Trail 1/2 – CAMPIGLIA – TELEGRAFO Length km 3.2 – 1h . This paths leaves from Campiglia and goes along a quite flat cork oak forrest. You will go up from 400 sea level to 512.
- Trail 1/3 – TELEGRAFO – LA CROCE Length – km 3 – 1h From Telegrafo you will see the Gulf of La Spezia, and cross the Bramapane hill, then the pass of la Croce (637 metres above sea level). From here you can continue to Riomaggiore with the Foothpath 01 or not.
All the houses you will see if you go to the sea or take the hiking trails, are built with impressive physical effort by the locals. They are mostly of stone, which is a traditional print for sea side constructions. It took years to built them and although Campiglia was almost deserted in the 70’-80’ the locals have soon understood the potential of the place and started building weekend homes or even permanently living here, even if this means – away from the world.
All the information regarding hiking trails here.