A friend of ours who was doing study abroad in Italy planned a portion of our trip there. This is where he lead us.
So where should you stay in one of the most picturesque places in the world?
First of all, don’t miss the place—really. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The vibe and the looks.
Each town has something. Monterosso Al Mare is a resort-ish sort of town which comes with all the conveniences of one, but also all of the downsides (i.e. cars and people). Vernazza is the second largest town and has got a lot to offer. The town has a castle, a waterfront and even a church on the water. The third town, Corniglia is a bit of a hike away from the main path. On the plus side, not everyone wants to hike 365 steps to see the town, so you’ll more or less be away from the crowds. Manarola is where we ended up going swimming. A small pier hooks around creating a little inlet just near the town where a lot of people go swimming. The boys even opted for some mini-cliff diving here.
The towns are connected by a trail that you can walk in a day (one way) and train back when you’re finished. You could walk back I suppose, but hiking 6 hours in the dark isn’t my thing- maybe it’s yours. The walks get longer and more difficult between towns. Vernazza to Monterosso Al Mare is the most difficult, but has the best views. It was on this hike that we got fresh squeezed lemonade from a trail-side vendor. He lives in a small house just off the trail.
Via Dell'Amore (Lover’s lane) is the short, but romantic hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola. When we hiked, we walked between the first three towns and trained the next two, and walked the final hike in one day. In the end, I think we walked all of them at some point.
Back to the place to stay. As far as I could tell, the guesthouse/hostel was a brilliant option. We made a phone call in advance to book as there was no online option. To be honest, I’m not sure how he knew about the place or how he called. Now, they do have an online option (click the button to see their website). Mar-Mar was affordable and a nice place to stay.
Bottom line: Definitely more crowded,
but definitely still Breathtaking.