We left England by Ryanair, Stansted to Genova . £30 return flight cost taxes included, booking two months in advance on the net. The train from Genova to Riomaggiore cost 4.6 Euros return.
At Riomaggiore you must enjoy the Bruschetta at Enoteca and look down at the small harbour while you eat. Then walk up into the town and buy yourself a box of strawberries at the food store. Walk back down to the station and start up the Via dell Amore. The path is well marked, but since the paths were remade there is a small charge of three euros. Keep your tickets because they will ask for them at other places along the path.
The first part from Riomaggiore to Manarola was really easy walking, good for pretty much any level of fitness. The vegetation along the path is very tropical with lots of cacti. However the first section of the walk is a half enclosed tunnel with murals, but is completely spoiled by graffiti. This is a disgrace, however later the wall disappears and the graffiti with it. At this point the scenery is beautiful and you can look back and photograph the headland of Riomaggiore. It took us 20 minutes to walk to Manarola, which has a small and very pretty harbor, but no sand. It is nice to sit on the rocks at the base and eat a few strawberries.
The footpath is not well marked in Manarola. Don’t take the steep path up to the cemetery marked ‘Corniglia’, but stick to the path by the sea marked to the ‘Picnic Area’. The going underfoot gets more difficult, but reasonable and the views of the coves are stunning. Later the path goes past beach style huts and there are piles of rubbish, but it is easy walking. At Corniglia you can get the train or go up the huge and steep flight of stairs up to the village. At the top there is a welcoming bar with fantastic views and a cold beer is just the thing after a difficult climb.
Corniglia did not impress me, there are no good views, and no sea as it is perched high in the air. Follow the road out, the path to Vernazza is signposted along it. Eventually you come to the path going off to the left, but it is well signposted. Do not do the walk in the heat of the day in the summer. Take some water and some sun cream when you go. Do not do the walk if it has been raining as the stones are lethally slippy. This is a serious walk only for fit people, very steep and rough in some places and needing good footwear. However it is very pleasant among the olive groves. There is a small picnic site for a halt about half way which is a good place to finish the strawberries.
Coming down towards Vernazza about an hour later gives you a fantastic view of the town. After the isolation of the walk Vernazza will seem very crowded. It is a good spot to take off your boots and socks, walk out along the small beach, and soak those weary feet in the sea. The last restaurant along the left hand side of the harbour will sell you a few slices of pizza and a bottle of cold water to drink as you sit on the harbour wall. You can then take a train back to Genova or La Spezia depending on which way you came. They are frequent, but they are often late and the station is very small and crowded.
A fantastic part of Liguria.