This is a great way to get to know the Italian cities of La Spezia.
In time I will tell you about all five cities of the Italian Pentateuch, as well as about the reserve itself – at the very end, but I would like to start with the city of Corniglia – it is there that I spent the most time. not by choice, though, but because of the train schedule, but that’s ok – but I got to know this city well and will definitely remember it for years to come. Meet:
Five Earths is a reserve in Italy, a region of Liguria, in which there are five unusual cities – cities very small, but colorful. If you go to Italy and stay in Genoa, for example, the Five Earths would be a great choice for a day tour. You do not need to buy a tour, you can travel around the Pyatiseme yourself, it’s pretty simple. You just have to choose which city you want to start with and which one you want to finish with.
Corniglia is the third city of the Five Terrains, whichever way you look at it. You can only get here by Italian train, because I’ve heard that even cars aren’t allowed here. If you don’t want to take the train, you can walk from the neighboring towns – Manarola or Vernazza. But if the way by train from Manarola or Vernazza to Cornilla will take you 3 minutes, then the way on foot – a few hours. The price is about 2-3 euros per ticket from one city to another.
Cornilla is the one city out of all the Five Earths that you have to allocate more time to than the other cities. Why Cornilla? The reason is that this city is on a mountain, and you have to go up the mountain. And as far as I know, there’s no elevator – you have to walk up the mountain. Only because of this road you will need more time; the size of Cornilla is not much different from other towns in the reserve.
I wrote at the beginning of this review that I had to spend the most time in Cornilla, but not by choice. It just so happened that I was stuck in Cornilla for 2.5 hours. Some might say, “2.5 hours is nothing at all, how can you complain? But there are two problems.
First problem: Cornilla is a VERY small town. It takes you a maximum of an hour to see the whole city. Plus half an hour to walk from the station and back to the station. And what to do with another hour of time?
Someone will say that you can have a snack. Indeed, you can. I bought myself an ice cream – you can see it in the pictures below. Unfortunately, when I was in Cornilla, which was a Sunday, a lot of restaurants were closed. I don’t know if the reason is the impending pandemic or if everything is basically closed on Sunday (or maybe it closed earlier or will open later?), but there wasn’t much choice of restaurants. Some would say you could go shopping. But many of the souvenir stores I tried to go to were also closed! It’s good if you have a book with you – you can sit in the city center, in the breeze, in the sun, and read. But what if you don’t have a book?
The second problem: I really didn’t want to waste any time, not even a minute. Unfortunately, when I went to Five Earths, public transportation tickets were already scarce. Or rather, there were tickets, but the trains didn’t run at very convenient times. The extra hour in Cornilla meant that I didn’t have a chance to enjoy the last two cities, because then I wouldn’t have returned to Genoa at all, or I would have come back VERY late (and got stuck in the last city at night for a long time).
But let’s face it: we really want to believe that things will get better in Italy after the quarantine and pandemic. Trains will run as often as they did in 2019 and before, which means you’ll have a chance to normally explore all five cities in one day – without any rush.
We’ve talked about the trains, but now let’s take a look at Cornilla itself.
Why did I put up a picture of the laundry on the balcony? Because it’s a very Italian picture. You’ll see it everywhere – in all cities, big and small. No matter what happens, Italy will always remain Italy. And that’s cool!
Overall impression: I liked Corniglia, although I liked Vernazza a little more. Corniglia came in second place. Although, to be honest, the pictures online seemed a little more colorful to me than the city itself in reality).
The way from the station to the city center: hard or easy? I’d say it was okay. I’ve had worse. At least there are stairs from the station to town, otherwise in some national parks in Australia you have to climb up on rocks.) However, if you’re in really bad shape, it will be a bit difficult. At the end of the review I’ll show a picture of the stairs that lead to the town from the station.
Cornilla is a clean, neat and tidy town. There are a lot of signs, so you should not get lost (although the town is so small that it is impossible to get lost). I also came across several signs that reminded tourists that they too must keep Cornilla clean and tidy. This, by the way, is a good reminder, I fully support it.
The historic center of the city, the scenic lookout, the well-kept square, the harbor, the towers – there are many beautiful and memorable things to see. There are mini supermarkets, souvenir stores, cafes, restaurants.
Very narrow streets, as in many other Italian cities, and many cozy, incredible corners:
Even though Five Earths is a fairly well-known tourist destination, I wouldn’t say Corniglia is crowded. There were people here, of course, but I didn’t have to stand in line for ice cream, I didn’t bump into anyone once, although on the observation deck I certainly had to fight for a place in the sun.
Here I peeked on the veranda of one of the restaurants:
I tried several times to connect to the free wi-fi in Five Earths, but nothing worked for me. The wi-fi either didn’t work, or it asked for a cell phone number to send a text message with a code, but I don’t have an Italian number, and the Australian one didn’t pick up in Italy (SOS only), so I was without internet during the trip. It’s unfortunate if you need to contact someone, but you can navigate the city without the help of a phone, for Cornilla has many such signs:
Information on signs in Cornilla is usually given in both Italian and English. This helped, too.
In the photo below is the very observation deck, Terrazza Panoramica S. Maria:
A very picturesque view of the sea, the hills, and the other cities of the Five Earths, which you can see perfectly from here. You’re lucky if you have a cool camera, which will see these cities from here.
And here’s the sign for tourists, which I wrote about a little higher up:
Personally, I really like the Italian streets and houses, so here’s a little collage for you:
I had a craving for ice cream in Cornilla. At first I paid attention to this cafe:
But it turned out to be closed. It’s a pity, because I wouldn’t have refused French crepes with free wi-fi. But that’s okay – I went to a cafe across the street.
I chose Gelateria Corniglia, an ice cream parlor. You can only get ice cream to take away, and they don’t have any tables or chairs inside. The cafe is quite crowded inside, a lot of tourists won’t fit in at once. I also liked the design of their menu displayed at the entrance of Gelateria Corniglia:
They have a lot of yummy stuff here. In addition to ice cream, they also offer us a variety of drinks, yogurt, and crepes. I would have gotten a crepe, but eating crepe on the go is not a good idea, so I settled for ice cream.
There are quite a few flavors, but it’s more of a classic number of flavors. I really liked the look of the ice cream. Now I look at it and I want nut ice cream, but back then, in Cornilla, I was in a completely different mood, so I never tried nut ice cream.
I took one scoop of Amarena ice cream – you can see it in the picture below. I paid 2 euros for one scoop served in a cup (it was my choice).
I don’t think I’ve ever picked up an Amarena flavor before because I’m more of a nutty-chocolate kind of guy, but my impressions are (overall) pretty positive. I would say that the ice cream is really creamy, delicate, not too sweet, with a nice sourness. But if I had the chance, next time I would have chosen a different flavor. I did get a great cup, though, with cornilla!
As for souvenirs, almost all the towns in Five Earths sell the same thing. There are some nice postcards, some interesting candies, plates and various Italian delicacies, but it so happened that I have not bought anything in Pyatiseme. I kept hoping for something unique, not Chinese, but only stores with souvenirs made in China (most of them) were open, and those where there could be something unusual, for some reason, were under lock and key.
I tried my best to explore the city: I sat in the central square for a long time, looked at the observation deck a few times, walked through the same streets, and then stumbled upon this wonderful view:
Cornilla is a beautiful city. An unusual city. I wouldn’t mind visiting a tiny museum, but there are no museums here, as far as I understand. It would have been easier with a museum, especially since I didn’t know what to do for an hour.
I have a pretty positive impression of Corniglia, although I liked Vernazza a bit more. If you are planning a trip to Italy after the quarantine, if you are interested in Liguria, pay attention to the Five Earths Reserve – it is a very unusual place.
You will need one day to see all the cities, but the memories will stay with you for a long time. Of course – I advise!
At the end of the review – the promised photos of the station:
And the stairs that lead from the city to the platform:
Italy – a speedy recovery, and to you – a pleasant journey through this wonderful country. Thank you.
Italy. Corniglia, Liguria. – review
Corniglia: the city on a cliff. Life on high ground, among the medieval walls.
Corniglia is the most unusual town of the Ligurian coast. It is located in the Cinque Terre National Park and is the only village that has no access to the sea. The altitude at which the town is located, about 100 meters, is really impressive. The way to Corniglia is through an enfilade of stairs, with a total of about 400 steps.
But for “lazy” tourists, a small bus runs from the station every 15-20 minutes. We turned out to be lazy. After waiting for the bus, we found ourselves in a large crowd of people who wanted to. The first time we did not manage to get on and leave. But after another fifteen minutes, we finally loaded into the transport.
The bus climbed up the stairs in a rambling manner, and we thanked ourselves that we hadn’t had to walk up the stairs. We were dropped off at the square, right at the entrance to the narrow streets of the city. Immediately the motley shops assaulted our eyes. What was there to see? Perhaps in Cornilla, the largest selection of souvenirs and gifts. And no wonder, because there is no beach, and tourists need something to attract.
But the very streets of medieval Cornilla were very picturesque. Unlike its counterparts in Cinque Terre, the main part of the city consists not of plastered colored houses, but of bare stonework. It immediately reminded us of paintings of old French villages and landscapes of villages in inland Italy.
Corniglia has a rich historical past, and its name has been known since Roman times. And since the geographical peculiarities of Corniglia did not allow the fishermen to live here, it has all the conditions for the vine-growers. On three sides Corniglia is surrounded by stunning vineyards, the wine of which Giovanni Bocaccio mentioned in his works. And on the fourth side is the inaccessible sea.
But the huge cliff, on which Corniglia stands, allows you to admire all the other towns of Cinque Terre from above. What a sly old lady Corniglia is! And even if there’s not even a small port, but there are plenty of viewpoints! We went through them all, enjoying the views of the neighborhood. And what a view to the sea!
Viewpoints of Cornilla
The first viewpoint is near the main square in Cornilla, just behind the Church of the Flagellants. From there you can see the most stunning sea panorama in all of Cinque Terre. The romantic spot, we were told, is often the place to propose marriage. And no wonder! It’s hard to find a more romantic atmosphere!
Another viewpoint is deep in the maze of streets, towards Vernazza. Walk through narrow passageways and climb a few steps and another magnificent panorama opens up in front of you. Along with the views of the vineyards and the sea, you can see a secret cove that hides a small cave. Even from above you can see that the water there is clear and clean. Where down there, at the foot of the rocks also hides the small beach of Corniglia.
The third vantage point is aimed at the vineyards, and it is quite easy to reach. From the main square, steps down to a small terrace with a cute café. And as a bonus, a nice view of the terraces with grapes!
Streets and temples
The streets of Cornilla lead us in a circle, outlining an invisible route. The stone houses are very colorful. Old staircases, doors, beams give the city a medieval mystique. And if it were not for the souvenirs, bright spots decorating the walls, you can feel the life of the city about 500 years ago. You can imagine the tiny dwellings, as if carved in the rock, the hoof stomping of donkeys, carrying crops and uncomplicated household goods, the shouts of traders, the smell of pastries.
Even now, though, the smell of pastry hovers over the city. There are many bakeries and pastry shops in Cornilla. I was surprised that we found a simple Italian focaccio scone very tasty. And it seems to be nothing special! Although the appetite in Italy is clearly improving, and I would even say greatly increasing. Perhaps the local clean air and long walks are to blame.
But let’s return to the streets of Cornilla, especially since it’s time for lunch. There are many homely cafes and restaurants where you can have a great lunch. We were right on the main square, where life was thriving.
That’s where the church of the Flagellants stands. This was the first time I had ever seen a temple to this religious group. Their brutal torture of their own flesh never made sense to me, and I didn’t know they had their own churches. Nevertheless, this church, now stood before our eyes. In front of it the cheerful hum of tourists could be heard in the square, waiters flashed by, and nothing reminded us of its formidable past!
I loved Cornilla, full of unusually cozy streets, stone mazes, and colorful souvenirs! In this city, separated from the sea by a high cliff beats, a living romantic soul. And even if it is harder to reach than all the other villages of Cinque Terre, Corniglia remains a vivid memory in my memory.
Some practical tips on the Corniglia-Vernazza trail
The hiking trail that connects Corniglia and Vernazza is not considered too difficult. At least that’s what all the sources say. But don’t trust them! The trail is not that easy. The first half of the trail is a very steep climb with lots of rocky ledges and stairs. You should definitely wear comfortable shoes. And be sure to stock up on water.
The length of the trail is about 3, 5 kilometers, but it seemed to us that all of it was five! The climbing did not end. In the beginning there were no beautiful views, and only when we looked around we could see the colored houses of Cornilla on a high cliff. After climbing up the cliff, we finally had more fun. The views were already getting brighter, more beautiful, more intense. The mood rose, and we slowly walked on, meeting tired hikers on our way back.
The descent was not too easy either. In some places the size of the steps made us almost backwards. And somewhere the intertwining roots created bizarre ladders. But nevertheless, there were quite a lot of people, and everyone was moving to the best of their ability and health.
We traversed the trail in about an hour and a half, happily entering the narrow streets of nearby Vernazza. So, if you have a desire to try these trails, head to Corniglia and start your exploration of Cinque Terre! And Corniglia, hidden behind the woodlands, will still remain a marvelous beautiful town, especially beloved by us!
If you are interested in Italy, Liguria and the wondrous land of Cinque Terre, check out my other reviews: