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