Despite the fact that it feels a bit like Don Quixote charging windmills, we always try to convince people that there are other hikes in the Cinque Terre National Park that are unknown, untouched, uncrowded, and with perhaps the best natural beauty you can find. We understand that most tourists in the area, and many of our clients, don’t have more than a day to visit this area, and that coming to the Cinque Terre without visiting at least three of the villages seem somehow like a failure, but the Cinque Terre is much more than its villages. The reason it is a UNESCO site, the reason it is a National Park, is not for the villages … it’s for the land. It’s even in the name: terre. It’s the land that makes the villages, not the other way around.
The National Park extends across an important local promontory jutting out into the sea called Punta Mesco, and here you have some of the best untapped trails and views in the entire area. We just did one the other day (the winters can be long here) with our children, having nothing better to do on a fine crisp Sunday morning. Naturally we didn’t bump into anyone in December, but the truth is that you can do this and other trails up here even in July and run into very few people. Even better, you can breathe easy, enjoy the silence, and take in the view: on one side, you can see the entire Cinque Terre coastline down to Portovenere. On the other, the entire Ligurian coastline up to Portofino, Genoa, and even the Alps and the majestic Monte Viso in the background.
It beats a hot, congested, overrun Vernazza any day of the week.