Thursday, September 12, 2013

ciao from corniglia


...however unjustly, is probably the most underrated of the Cinque Terre.

People here for a day or two (which seems to be the norm) are trying to maximize their time, and the allure of the village perched on the rocks doesn't outweigh the 387 steps you need to climb to arrive in the village.  The boat doesn't stop here, a car is more or less useless in exploring the region, and the train connections to here aren't as frequent as bigger Monterosso or Riomaggiore.  The village does offer a small blue bus to bring visitors up from the station to the center of town at a fee (a well spent 2 euro), and though theoretically it should arrive in concurrence with the trains, the world isn't perfect, and Italian train and shuttle timings are far from that.

Once you arrive in the village, a shy beauty perched atop a cliff, she opens her arms to you.  Streets isn't the correct word. Corniglia is full of alleyways that wind up to more stone steps, down to wind battered gates perched over the sea, and open into a windy piazzetta, a terrace with a stunning view, or a tiny church looking protectively down on it's few residents.  The stairs do not end when you arrive in the village center, as the stone houses built into the rock sprout other houses atop them, other little offshoots that pile on top f each other in a seemingly impossible balance of color.  Corniglia is the tiniest of the villages, and offers the least in terms of dining options or bars, but oozes and romantic and eerie sort of charm.  Time here isn't spent in terms of days, as the village is so small that a few quick passes here and there can cover the whole thing, but a few left turns instead of rights can bring you to quiet stone terraces with breezy, 360-degree views.  Ducking through an arch and looking to the left, another open balcony is covered with nets, as local boys practice their soccer, ingenious in their method to make sure the ball doesn't fall hundreds of feet into the crashing blue sea below.

The other villages have had a healthy rivalry through the centuries, and locals are very proud of their homes.  Those from Monterosso might scoff at Riomaggiore, those from Vernazza thumb their nose at Manarola, residents of Riomaggiore laugh at everyone else, and so forth, but Corniglia, as has been mentioned "never bothered anyone".

You feel that sort of beautiful isolation twofold here, already within an area of villages already difficult to reach, to add the challenges of Corniglia on top of that seems almost impossible.


Though Corniglia might be the most overlooked, like a beautiful and timid girl in the back of the room, she looks up at you and smiles knowingly.  Corniglia doesn't care.  She's perfectly secure in knowing that she's the real star of the show, and happy to share her secret with the few who want to seek her out.


  1. This is Melissa...the crazy lady from California that brought the sauces. I've got a question for ya. When we visited your region two years ago, we went in September and the weather was gorgeous and it wasn't overly crowded. We're hoping to visit again in 2014 but if our friends join us they're not able to travel in Sept. (due to work schedules). So we're thinking about visiting in May. Could you tell me the pros and/or cons of visiting in May?

  2. Hi Melissa the not at all crazy lady who made my summer by bringing me hot sauce,
    May is great too - both are really nice months to be here, and both slightly less hectic then July and August, but still pretty busy. In past years, they have been more of a shoulder season, but this past year both were very busy. May, however, was really rainy, which is unusual for here. It didn't get warm and summer-sunny until about mid June this year, which was a bit of a let down - I hope next year is nicer (and it usually is)...the big difference is the water temp. In September, it's had all summer to warm up, but in May it can be quite chilly still -and definitely plan on packing some warmer things at night, as the temperature can drop dramatically.
    April is also pretty late this year, meaning that May will probably be a big month here too, as there is no pause between the easter "start" of the tourist season and the beginning of summer...if you are looking to come, it wouldn't be out of the question to start looking into rooms now. Our bnb has already taken several reservations already...
    Hope you are doing great - if you have any other planning questions, don't hesitate :)