Trail 2 is closed this year July and Aug from Monday to Thursday every week. There are excellent alternate trails, but they are hard to find! There are very few signs, and the staff at the tourist office in Riomaggiore virtually told us that they were 'very, very difficult' as if it would be impossible. It is true that the alternate trails are much more difficult, but if you are fit and like to hike, these are really fun and worthwhile. Steep ascents on stoney steps, walking through terraced vineyards, fantastic views. This was our hiking day:
1. from Riomaggorio to Manerola (2 hours) - find the alternate trail that runs parrallel but above the Via del Amoro.
2. Manerola to Corniglia (2 hours) - take the bus from Manerola to the next town (Volterra?). The bus cuts off the first hour of the hike, which would be entirely uphill. At Volterra, there are very clear signs and a path that is often level through vineyards, and usually downhill. Amazing views in both directions until you begin the descent to Corniglia, which is very steep and very long, with forest and stone walls on both sides so that there is no view. This was ok since we were going down, but I would not want to do this hike in the opposite direction (Corniglia to Manerola).
3. Corniglia to Vernazza (1 hour at a brisk pace) This was the only part of the regular trail that was open, and it was quite challenging. Carry water! Immediately at the end of the trail is a very nice bar/bistro with terrace, great view and a WC!
Vernazza is very beautiful. This is the best place to stay because it has a large square at the waterfront. We swam at the breakwater - very clean, deep water with beautiful clff walls.
At 6:00 we too the ferry boat back to Riomaggioria. Beautiful views from the boat and a nice way to end a long day of hiking.
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