The villages are connected by rail, boat, and an extensive network of hiking trails, enabling all kinds of trecking adventures. It's about as much fun as you can have shouldering a pack in the morning and seeing where you end up.
First the villages. Colorful. Beautiful. Historical.
Although it is possible to drive to near the villages, they are mainly devoid of cars. The buildings are built and molded onto rugged terrain. Village exploration involves canyoneering Italian style. For the most part you are walking through narrow alleys and up and down steep stairs, looking for something to hold onto.
To access our room, we ascended a long stairwell with a 45 degree incline to get to the front door. After entering, we then ascended a 50 degree stairwell to get to the room. We were grateful we travelled light and that our knees weren't cranky. There's good money to be had by young studs who carry oversized luggage to and from rental properties in the area!
The stairs from the train station to the village of Corniglia is an Italian version of Walter's Wiggles in Zion National Park.
The hiking in the region is really wonderful. You can stick to coastal trails (mainly closed for repair while we were there except the route from Monterosso to Vernazza which we enjoyed) or venture into the hills, olive groves, and vineyards. Below are a few photos of our route from Manarola to Corniglia via the mountain town of Volastra.
The landscape in the region has been transformed over hundreds of years to support agriculture, with heavy terracing.
In modern times, there are monorail "trains" that workers use to ascend the landscape.
We didn't take a video, but here's an example from YouTube.
We were fortunate to visit during the shoulder season as we've heard the high season is insane. For our visit, mornings and evenings were relatively quiet in Vernazza, but venturing about, things got busy during the day.
We are now back in Innsbruck working and recuperating, trying to figure out what to do next. So many options, so little time...