Punta Mesco: Levanto and Cinque Terre

Punta Mesco from Vernazza

Punta Mesco from Vernazza

Punta Mesco, the imposing treeless rock that juts up out of the Mediterranean and marks the northwest boundary of the Cinque Terre, is actually fifty percent within the confines of Levanto.  But since you can’t actually see it from Levanto unless you are in a boat, it’s probably fair that it be more associated with the Cinque Terre, not least because the promontory is also entirely within the Cinque Terre National Park.  It’s a gorgeous rock, changing colors from white to brown to yellow depending on the season and the light.

One of the most beautiful and most natural hikes in the area takes you to the top of Punta Mesco, a privileged spot from which, on a clear, haze-free day, you can see all five villages of the Cinque Terre and the Palmaria Island spread out below you.  (NB: it is rarely haze-free enough for a truly spectacular view, but it is always wonderful anyway.)  There are also the rather sparse but beguiling ruins of a hermitage up here high above the sea.  The Hermitage of Saint Anthony was home to a community of religious men who also helped light signal fires to alert the town of Monterosso below about approaching ships, and was there as early as the late 14th century, if not earlier.

The waters around the point are part of the Cinque Terre Marine Park, and have varying degrees of no motor restrictions.  The scuba diving (so I hear) is top notch.

If you want to do the hike, we recommend doing it in the Levanto – Monterosso direction and not the opposite: it has a more logical sequence, ending with the spectacular coastal views of the Cinque Terre, and also is less devastatingly vertical this way.  The descent is bad enough, but you don’t really want to do it in the opposite direction.  In Levanto, head up to the castle and then look for the trail markers indicating Monterosso.

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