If you are setting out to walk between the villages of the Cinque Terre, you'll probably arrive at one of them on the train. This guide assumes you're already in a village of the Cinque Terre (For instructions on how to get there, see our Map and Travel Essentials for the Cinque Terre).
Take a look at the map below. In Italian, a trail is called a Sentiero. The blue one that connects the five villages of the Cinque Terre is the famous Sentiero no. 2 or Sentiero Azzuro. It is 11 kilometers long. If the whole of it is open, it takes an estimated 5 hours to walk. There is a total elevation difference of 500 meters between the highest and lowest points of the trail.
The section between Riomaggiore and Manarola has been called the Via dell'Amore since the thirties--I suppose because lovers like the view. It's pretty level. The Via dell'Amore was reopened after a collapse, and now contains some ugly cement work to hold the rocks at bay. It only takes 20 minutes on the trail to get between towns and that's good, because as far as the trail goes, the new cement part is darned ugly. Still, pretty much anyone in reasonable condition can enjoy the views here.
When we took this trek in November of 2004, the route connecting Manarola to Corniglia was not passable. We had the option of going up and around or taking the train. We went up trail number 6 to 6d, then made a left turn. This is not an easy way to go. It's steep up those hills. Read on for more of our adventure.
In recent times tourism in the Cinque Terre has become more profitable than the wine grown on terraced vineyards above the town. Many vineyards are abandoned, which increases erosion during wet years and also increases the wild bore population, making grapes even more difficult to grow. This and a long period of wet weather has made travel maintenance a nightmare. Many trails are closed. When planning a vacation in the Cinque Terre, you are encouraged to view the National Park's guide to trail conditions.