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Walking With Women: A Cinque Terre Hiking Adventure

Immerse yourself in the fellowship of adventurous women and the history of the Cinque Terre as you venture through five vibrant, historic villages along the Mediterranean.
Program No. 24064RJ
9 days
Starts at

Walking With Women: A Cinque Terre Hiking Adventure

Immerse yourself in the fellowship of adventurous women and the history of the Cinque Terre as you venture through five vibrant, historic villages along the Mediterranean.
9 days
Starts at
Program No. 24064 RJ
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At a Glance

Join other active women for a hiking adventure along the Cinque Terre, where five towns along the Italian Riviera make poetry with their union of land and sea. Here, colorful fishing villages mimic coral reefs as they burst from striking hillsides, vineyards and olive trees soak up the Mediterranean sun and medieval fortresses still stand guard. On this women-only adventure, embark on active discoveries during walks along centuries-old foot paths that connect all five towns and admire the sea-swept landscapes, beautiful ruins and rugged hillsides of Cinque Terre.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Enjoy expert-led walks on breathtakingly beautiful footpaths connecting the villages of Cinque Terre.
  • Learn about local wine, cheeses and focaccia bread from the president of the Lunigiana Wine Route on his scenic property.
  • Experience the camaraderie of supportive, empowered women as you hike coastal walkways and explore each village of stunning Cinque Terre.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter
Award-winning, bestselling author Jess Walter brings us to the Italian Riviera in this glittering love story. Based on actual events.
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
by Christopher Hibbert
A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.
Liguria Map
by Touring Club Italiano
A map of the region, including Cinque Terra, at a scale of 1:200,000.
Under the Tuscan Sun
by Frances Mayes
In this best-selling memoir of buying, renovating and living in an abandoned villa in Cortona, Tuscany, Mayes reveals the sensual pleasures found in rural Italy.
Rick Steves' Snapshot Italy's Cinque Terre
by Rick Steves
A slim guide to the Cinque Terre region with Steves' expert-selected hotels, travel advice, major sites and places to relax.
A Ligurian Kitchen, Recipes and Tales from the Italian Riviera
by Laura Giannatempo
A charming, personal cookbook with an abundance of authentic Ligurian recipes that can easily be replicated in an American kitchen.
Bradt Guide Liguria, The Italian Riviera
by Rosie Whitehouse
A comprehensive guide in the growing series by Bradt, noteworthy for its focus on culture, nature and responsible travel, with plenty of practical travel details.
Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Lawrence Venuti (Editor)
Not just a literary companion, this anthology is also a who's who of contemporary Italian writers who capture the spirit, history and allure of the country.
The Food of Italy
by Waverly Root
Evocative of Italy and its diverse cuisine, this classic book, organized geographically, offers a cook's tour of the country. It's a well-informed and wonderful culinary guide.
Italy, A Short History
by Harry Hearder
Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.
Cinque Terre, Portofino Hiking Map
by Freytag & Berndt
Scaled at 1:50,000, this one-sided, color map depicts Italy from Sestri Levante to Montemarcello, with an inset of Portofino. Ideal for exploring this beautiful stretch of the Italian coast. Printed on water- and tear-resistant paper.
The Portable Romantic Poets
by Norman Holmes Pearson, W.H. Auden (Editor)
This is the anthology to take along on a trip to Italy's Cinque Terra, England's Lake District or any other classic haunt of the romantic poets. This selection includes works by all the masters (and even an occasional mistress).
National Geographic Italy
by Tim Jepson
Published in National Geographic's attractive visual style, this illustrated guide features hundreds of photographs, full color maps, and useful information on history, culture and travel.
The Italians
by John Hooper
Italy correspondent for The Economist Hooper explores Italy -- its baffling contradictions, unique character and contemporary culture -- in this illuminating portrait.
Italy in Mind
by Alice Powers
A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.
Extra Virgin, A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera
by Annie Hawes
A memoir of travels and life in Liguria, where the Hawe sisters ventured and stayed. In this refreshingly candid account, the English sisters end up buying a house and learning the local customs and eccentricities of their neighbors in Diano San Pietro.
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
by Beppe Severgnini
Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. The book opens with a snapshot of Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.
Italian Days
by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Grizzuti Harrison writes with warmth and depth of her journey from Milan south to Calabria in this sprightly account of Italy and the Italians.
Michelin Wine Trails of Italy
by Michelin Travel & Lifestyle
This handy guide focuses on driving tours and itineraries through Italy's many wine regions, including Langhe and Roero, lands of Barbera, Liguria, Lombardy, Sicily, Sardinia, Umbria and Tuscany.
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9 days
8 nights
17 meals
7 B 4 L 6 D
In Transit to Program
In Flight
Arrive Pisa, Transfer to Le Grazie, Orientation
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Transfer to Le Grazie about 1.5 hours.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Le Grazie, we will check-in at our program hotel. Orientation. 6:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals. Breakfasts will offer a typical European-style buffet with breads, cheeses, cold cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea. Hikes are led by the Group Leader and a local expert. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated welcome meal with one glass of wine included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Palmaria Island
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off boat, riding up to 20 minutes; hiking approximately 2.3 miles about 2.5 hours. 450 feet elevation gain and loss. Asphalt and dirt trails with some rocks, some uphill climbing, and a downhill descent.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk to the dock to depart by boat for Palmaria Island, from where the famous Portoro Marble was quarried. With our Group Leader, we will enjoy a hike across this beautiful island. In 1997, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the other two islands in the same archipelago, Tino and Tinetto. Palmaria is home to about 500 species of flora and colonies of rabbits and goats.

Lunch: At Locanda Lorena, a restaurant with picturesque views of the Ligurian Sea, we will enjoy a plated meal with water and one glass of wine included.

Afternoon: We will then return by boat to Le Grazie and return to our hotel with time to freshen up before our lecture. At our hotel meeting room, we will hear from a local lecturer about the Ligurian Region, including an overview of the history of this part of Italy. We’ll hear about the growth of Genova into one of the most important city-states and its eventual slow decay by the time of the unification of Italy.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

Cinque Terre: Monterosso to Vernazza, Riomaggiore
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off boat; riding 1 hour total. Hiking about 3 hours, approximately 2.5 miles. 700 feet elevation gain and loss. 600 steep steps to ascend at trailhead. Trails offer little shade, some steep ascents and descents, and mixed terrain including steps, cobblestone, and rugged narrow paths with dirt and rocks. Extent and duration of activities in Vernazza and Riomaggiore are dependent on personal preference. Getting on/off train; minimal time on train.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart by boat for Monterosso, the westernmost town in the Cinque Terre. The older, medieval part of the town is noted for its typical tower houses, crossed by narrow streets called carruggi. Upon arrival in Monterosso, we will set out for our hike to Vernazza, founded around 1000 CE.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like at one of the restaurants or cafés in Vernazza. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will enjoy some sightseeing on our own in Vernazza before boarding a train to Riomaggiore. Here, we may choose to explore the medieval Riomaggiore Castle or the Church of San Giovanni Battista, among other sites. The town is known for its colorful stone houses. In the late afternoon, we will go to Portovenere by public boat, and from here take the local bus to the hotel in Le Grazie. We’ll take some time to freshen up and relax prior to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Portovenere, we’ll enjoy a plated meal with one glass of wine included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Colonnata: Carrara Marble
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; riding about 2 hours. Hiking 3 miles, about 3 hours. 1000 foot elevation gain and loss. Mixed terrain of steps, cobblestones, dirt, and rocks through narrow forest trail. Sections of flat path, ascents and descents. A short, steep, rocky section of steps ascends to an old mule track with switchbacks. Extent and duration of walking through town dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach to transfer to Colonnata. Upon arrival, we will hike a trail through a chestnut forest and arrive at the abandoned village of Case Del Vergheto. The beautifully maintained village provides a majestic view of the open-air Carrara caves, from which the famous Carrara marble is quarried. We’ll then walk back to Colonnata for lunch.

Lunch: We will enjoy a plated meal at the Ristorante Venanzio situated in the beautiful main square of Colonnata that is paved in white marble. Water and one glass of wine included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will explore the ancient core and medieval walls of Colonnata with our Group Leader and local expert. The name Colonnata is believed to derive from the Latin word for column, indicating that marble was quarried here for architecture in Rome. The town is also known for lardo di Colonnata, a salumi made with pork lard seasoned in basins of Carrara marble. We will return to Le Grazie via motorcoach.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own at one of the restaurants in Le Grazie or in Portovenere.

Evening: At leisure.

Cinque Terre: Manarola to Corniglia
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving 1 hour. Hiking 4 miles, approximately 3.5 hours, on moderately challenging terrain. Steep uphill portions, followed by flat terrain on cobblestone and dirt. Some narrow paths with steep drop-offs to one side. Final descent consisting of 400 low steps. 1200 foot elevation gain and loss. Ride by train 20 minutes. NOTE: Participants may choose to skip the first part of this hike and take the public bus from Manarola to Volastra.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach to Manarola, named for an altar dedicated to the Manes, Roman deities that represented personal relationships or the souls of loved ones. Setting off on our hike, we will first make a steep ascent to Volastra. We will follow the path right along many vineyards through one of the most beautiful areas on this hike. We will end with a final descent into Corniglia, set amongst sweeping views of vineyards from its perch on a promontory hundreds of feet high.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own at one of the restaurants or cafes in Corniglia.

Afternoon: We will depart Corniglia by train to La Spezia, then meet back up with the motorcoach to return to Le Grazie. After returning and some time to freshen up, we will meet for a lecture about religious pilgrimages throughout human history and specifically the Via Francigena, first describe by the Bishop Sigeric in the 7th century. We’ll learn about the importance of pilgrimages, the symbols, clothing, practices, and behavior of pilgrims, and how their societies have reacted.

Dinner: We will walk to the dock to board a private boat to Portovenere for dinner at a local restaurant. We’ll enjoy a plated meal including water and one glass of wine; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore to Portovenere
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving 1/2 hour. Hiking 5.5 hours total, approximately 7.5 miles, in 2 sections. Morning: 3.8 miles, about 3 hours. 600 feet elevation gain/loss. Mixed terrain including stone, forest, and rocky, narrow paths with some uphills, high steps. 280 steps at sanctuary. Afternoon: challenging, 3.8 miles, about 2.5 hours. 1200 feet elevation loss. Rocky downhill terrain; some scrambling, careful footwork, head for heights required. Final descent very steep with loose stones.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach with packed lunches from the hotel and transfer to Riomaggiore. Today's hike will include the quintessential Cinque Terre trail, which follows the ridge separating the coast from the inland regions. We will begin with a walk to the Sanctuary of Montenero, a basilica maintained by Vallombrosian monks. After walking across mixed terrain including stone, forest, rocky paths, and high steps, we will find ourselves rewarded with a pleasant trail through a chestnuts forest of gentle ascents and descents. Our final leg will require much care as we descend a steep, rocky portion, finally arriving in the village of Campiglia.

Lunch: We will enjoy a packed lunch in Campiglia.

Afternoon: We will meet in the square and choose from two activities. Those of us who wish to rest after our morning hike may take the public transit bus back to Le Grazie, which will take about 45 minutes. Those of us who are up to the challenge will continue our hike to Portovenere, with a beautiful panorama of the coast and gulf, including the islands of Palmaria and Tino, along the way. We will descend across rocky terrain, followed by a short stretch of asphalt to reach our final, rocky, slippery, and very steep push down to Portovenere. A head for heights and careful footwork along steep drop-offs will ensure we enjoy a safe, rewarding hike. After our arrival in Portovenere, we will return to the hotel in Le Grazie by public transit bus. At the hotel, we will enjoy a lecture about the Gulf of La Spezia and how it came to be known as the Gulf of Poets. Famed writers such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, George Byron, and John Keats found inspiration along the shores of the gulf in the early 19th century. It was here where Shelley drowned on his way back to Lerici in 1822, near where the Shelleys lived.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated dinner at the hotel, including water and one glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Sarzana, Fosdinovo Castle
Le Grazie
Hotel Della Baia

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving up to 1 hour. Walking up to 1.5 miles. Extent and duration of free time activities dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At 9:30 a.m., we will depart by motorcoach to Sarzana. This town, at the entrance to the valley of Marga, lies along the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome called the Via Francigena. It is featured prominently in Italian history for its political and religious influence. A local expert will discuss Sarzana's history and the important role of pilgrimage during the medieval period. As we walk, we will observe the unique character of Sarzana, including its medieval walls, Roman city gate, cathedral, and picturesque town square.

Lunch: At a historic restaurant called Il Loggiato, we will enjoy a plated meal including water and one glass of wine.

Afternoon: After a short transfer to Fosdinovo, we will set out with a local expert to explore Fosdinovo Castle, which dates back to the 12th century. In 1306, the Malaspina family, who still own the castle today, hosted Dante Alighieri here. We will then board our motorcoach again to transfer to Massa.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated dinner of local cuisine at the restaurant La Scurtarola whose proprietor is the president of the Lunigiana Wine Route. Water and a wine tasting included.

Evening: As we dine in a hilltop farmhouse overlooking the sea and the Apuan Alps, we will enjoy presentations on local specialties including the little-known wine produced in this region called Vermentino Nero, as well as local cheeses and focaccias. After returning to the hotel, the rest of the evening is at leisure.

Program Concludes
In Flight

Activity note: Hotel check-out at 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on departures. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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