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Cinque Terre's Corniglia: Italy's Middle Village with Elevated Views

submitted on 4 November 2023 by

A Quirky Introduction to Corniglia

If you're looking for a truly unique and somewhat vertigo-inducing European experience, allow me to present Cinque Terre's Corniglia – Italy's very own middle village suspended in the sky. Perched atop a 100-meter-high rocky promontory, this lesser-known gem of the Italian Riviera boasts of remarkable vistas, vineyards that defy gravity, and a delightful sense of superiority over its sea-level siblings. You'll find yourself in the land of the smug, the triumphant, and the slightly out of breath.

An Uphill Battle: Getting to Corniglia

As the only village in the Cinque Terre without direct access to the sea, Corniglia can be a bit, shall we say, elusive. The journey to reach this lofty destination involves braving the infamous Lardarina – a formidable staircase featuring a mere 382 steps. But fear not, intrepid traveler! For every step you take, remember that you are ascending towards a paradise that few are willing to conquer. Just think of it as a slightly more accessible Mount Everest, minus the snow and the Sherpas. Alternatively, if stairs are your mortal enemy, you may opt for the local shuttle bus, which runs from the train station up to the village. But where's the fun in that? Remember, the reward at the top will taste even sweeter after you've sweated your way up those steps.

A Wine Lover's Dream

Once you've completed your climb and taken a moment to catch your breath, wipe your brow, and question your life choices, you'll soon realize that it was all worth it. Corniglia is surrounded by terraced vineyards that produce some of the finest wines in the region. These vineyards are not for the faint of heart, as they cling precariously to the steep hillsides. The brave souls who tend to these vines must possess the agility of a mountain goat and the dedication of a monk. And while it might seem that a glass of wine would be the last thing you'd want after scaling the Lardarina, trust me – there's something magical about sipping on a crisp, refreshing glass of local Vermentino while gazing out over the sparkling Mediterranean from your hard-earned perch.

A Village Tour Worth the Sweat

Now that you've conquered the Lardarina and rewarded yourself with some liquid courage, it's time to explore the village itself. Corniglia may be small in size, but it is bursting with charm and history. Wander the narrow streets and discover the 14th-century Church of San Pietro, a magnificent example of Gothic-Ligurian architecture. Make your way to the Belvedere Santa Maria, a terrace offering panoramic views over the surrounding landscape – because really, you can never have too many elevated viewpoints. And if you're in need of sustenance, the village is home to a variety of cafés and restaurants serving up fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and some truly outstanding gelato.
  • Fun Fact: Corniglia's compact size and steep terrain make it nearly immune to the invasion of cars, so you can safely stroll the streets without fear of becoming roadkill.

Take a Hike, Literally

If you haven't had your fill of physical exertion, Corniglia is also a prime starting point for some of Cinque Terre's most famous hiking trails. One option is the trail that leads to neighboring village Vernazza, which offers a heart-pounding ascent followed by a breathtaking descent past terraced vineyards, olive groves, and the shimmering sea. Another popular route is the path to Manarola, which meanders through dense forest, vibrant wildflowers, and a series of vertiginous cliffside viewpoints that will make your heart race in more ways than one.

Embrace the Elevation

Yes, it's true – Corniglia may not be the easiest of Cinque Terre's villages to reach. But for those willing to put in the effort (and perhaps a touch of masochism), the rewards are plentiful. The views, the wine, the sense of accomplishment – it all comes together to create a truly unforgettable experience. So throw caution to the wind, strap on your sturdiest shoes, and embrace the elevation as you embark on your journey to Corniglia, Italy's middle village with unparalleled lofty views.
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