Vernazza is a real gem, probably my favourite village of Cinque Terre. It is a small fortified citadel between sea and mountains and it is the only village of Cinque Terre with a natural harbour. The port of Vernazza is literally surrounded by colorful houses and the entire village is dominated by the Castle of Doria, a fortification dating back to the eleventh century.
The village develops along the Vernazzola stream, now covered, and branches off on the slopes of a rocky spur. Vernazza is a maze of narrow and steep streets that descend towards the main road, until you reach the small port.
To visit in Vernazza:
• The church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia
The church of Vernazza, built in 1318, stands on a rock overlooking the sea. It is impossible not to notice it even from afar: it is 40 meters high crowned by small arches and it ends with an ogival-shaped dome. The entrance is located laterally, making it particular and unique.
• Doria castle
The Castle of the Doria of Vernazza is stretched out over the sea and today appears as an imposing bastion from which rises a cylindrical tower, one of the few remaining original watchtowers that functioned as protection of the city and its people during the reign of the Republic of Genoa. The Doria Castle offers a fantastic view from its panoramic terrace. The structure of the castle is irregular as it has been adapted to the rock on which it stands.
- Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio
Located 2 km from the railway station, the Sanctuary is located where the first settlement of Vernazza was once built. It is part of the “sanctuaries of the Cinque Terre”. Everyone knows this church for the painting of the Black Madonna with the Child Jesus, nicknamed as the African. The image of the Madonna was probably brought to Vernazza during the Crusades.
To reach the Sanctuary it is necessary to follow a paved path, about 2 km long that starts from the railway station and you get directly to the church square surrounded by secular trees. It is considered one of the most beautiful vertical paths of the Cinque Terre, leads to discover beautiful views.
- The beaches of Vernazza
There are two beaches in Vernazza, the smaller sandy one is located next to the Church of Santa Margherita and the larger one, which is a mix of pebbles with rocks is located on the other side, it can be reached from via Roma crossing a cave in the rock located not far from the main road of the village.
Where to have dinner (with a magical sunset…)
If you plan a romantic dinner at the sunset, in intimacy, I suggest to have dinner in La Torre Restaurant with a beautiful terrace and a breathtaking view on the village.
You’ll have to face a steep staircase a bit bumpy but when there you’ll be relieved. Going up to the restaurant through the alleys of the village will show you some picturesque corners and exclusive views. Dishes and wine are excellent with a good quality/price ratio.
For a winetasting experience or an aperitif with a nice sea view I suggest to go to the Deck rootop. The location is spectacular, you’ll get the impression of being on the bow of an ocean liner.
Trekking in Vernazza
From Vernazza start some of the most beautiful trekking of all the Cinque Terre (check the opened trails on the official website of Cinque Terre).
One of the most famous is the path that connects Vernazza to Monterosso, the first village you meet starting from the north. This path is about 3 and a half kilometers long and passes through vineyards and olive groves, in a succession of ups and downs and flat stretches. The path starts from the port of Vernazza, going up along Via Roma and immediately taking a narrow street on the left with a staircase that leads above the Church of Santa Margherita.
From Torrione di Vernazza starts the path that connects Vernazza to Corniglia, the way if of medium difficulty, about 4 kilometers long. From here you continue to climb up towards the viewpoint of Punta Palma, and then to continue with a succession of ups and downs through vineyards and olive groves until see the beach of Guvano. The last stretch to Corniglia is easy and very panoramic.
Finally I suggest the path (508) that from Vernazza arrives at the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio. The trail way is quite simple and about 2 kilometers long, it starts from the train station, goes up the steps of the Pastenello and, after the cemetery, continues along the traditional path of the Via Crucis of Vernazza. The trail climbs gradually, passing by the small chapel of San Bernardo, and continues through the cultivated fields until you reach first a spring and finally the sanctuary.
If you want, you can continue along trail 508 until you reach Foce Drignana, from where you have to continue along the path of the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre (AV5T) until Cigoletta. Here take trail 507 downhill to the Sanctuary of San Bernardino, from here you can then return to Vernazza always following the path 507.
Discover the other villages of Cinque Terre: