Corniglia is one of the small villages that make up the Cinque Terre region in northern Italy, but it has two distinctive features that make it stand out from the other four villages. This is the only village in this well-known region that is not directly on the coast – in fact, it sits on top of a 100 meters (328 feet) promontory, and its architecture is more like that of the inland villages of Italy than of the coastal villages of Cinque Terre.
While Corniglia may not have the same coastal access as the other surrounding villages, the sea is still very much a part of the scenery along with the vineyards and pretty terraces that surround the village.
If you are planning a trip to the Cinque Terre region you definitely should not overlook it. To help you plan your visit, I thought I’d share some useful information, with the best attractions in Corniglia and tips to plan your trip.
What To See And Do In Corniglia
The village itself is very small and mostly runs along one main road. Along Fieschi Road, you’ll find most of Corniglia’s restaurants, shops and notable buildings. Away from this main road are a series of narrow streets lined with colorful houses and terraces.
Many visitors to Cinque Terre skip over Corniglia because they assume it doesn’t have much to offer since it’s not located directly on the beaches. This couldn’t be further from the truth because, despite its small size and more secluded location, Corniglia has many things to see and do.
Let’s find out more!
Climb up the Lardarina
Because Corniglia is situated 100 meters above the shoreline, the only way to reach it is to climb a long flight of almost 400 steps (382 to be precise) called the Lardarina, that leads right to the village. It’s a hard climb, especially on hot days, but the effort is well worth it when you get to the top and see the views!
If you really don’t want to climb the stairs, you can wait for a shuttle bus to take you to the top. But with all the delicious food you’ll be having in Cinque Terre, do you really want to pass the chance to get some extra exercise?
Hiking is a very popular activity in Cinque Terre, and that includes Corniglia. There are two main paths that go through the village. The path from Corniglia to Vernazza is a fairly short and easy hike that you can complete in 1.5 hours – it’s part of the more famous Blue Trail that connects the Cinque Terre villages. Along this trail, you’ll see stunning views of the gardens and the sea.
A Cinque Terre Trekking Card is required to do this hike and you can get one for €7.50 at one of the Cinque Terre points that are usually found right by the train station in all Cinque Terre Villages.
Check out my post Is The Cinque Terre Card Worth It?
The trail from Corniglia to Manarola is an alternative to the Blue Trail which is currently closed between the two villages: you’ll have to follow trails 587, 586 and 506 to get to Manarola. This is another amazing trail but it’s a lot more difficult compared to the Sentiero Azzurro (that’s how the Blue Trail is called in Italian), with steep climbs and narrow passages. Forest, vineyards, and sea views are some of the sights you can expect to see on this trail.
For a guided hiking tour of the Cinque Terre, click here.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Hiking In Cinque Terre.
Wander around the historic center
One of the best ways to get familiar with Corniglia is to take some time to stroll around the little village. Enter the little shops, enjoy a coffee at a cozy cafe, eat a meal at one of the fabulous restaurants or just admire the unique and colorful architecture.
Some of the most notable attractions in Corniglia include the Belvedere di Santa Maria; the 14th-century Liguria-Gothic style Chiesa San Pietro Church, inside which you can find a 12th century baptismal font; the Sanctuary of San Bernardino (also known as Nostra Signora delle Grazie), where the main object of interest is a painting of the Madonna with Child that was originally represented as sitting between San Bernardo da Chiaravalle and San Bernardino da Siena (the Madonna figure was eventually separated and placed above the altar in 1874); and the 18th century Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina.
Take in the views from Saint Mary’s Terrace
If you keep walking along the main Via Fieschi, you’ll eventually reach Saint Mary’s Terrace. This beautiful terrace looks out over the sea and is a great place to take a rest and enjoy some of the best views around.
Another great viewpoint is La Torre, which you’ll find just above Piazza Taragio, the main square in Corniglia.
Spend some time at the beach
Despite being situated so high above the coastline, you can still access nearby beaches from Corniglia, you’ll just have to work a little harder to get to them. The best beach areas are fairly hidden and only accessible by boat or kayak . Such is the nudist Guvano Beach. This used to be accessible via a 1.5 km from Corniglia, but you can now only get there from the sea – just rent rent a kayak in one of the other Cinque Terre villages.
Alternatively, there is a beach (well, more like a swimming hole, really) you can get to from Corniglia – though granted, it’s a bit of an effort to get there. You will have to follow a very steep flight of stairs from the center of town, following the signs that say “Al Mare” (literally: “to the sea”, which is the expression we use colloquially instead of “alla spiaggia” – to the beach in English).
Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Corniglia
How to Get to Corniglia
While some people choose to arrive in Corniglia by car, this is not advisable. The streets are narrow and hard to get around and parking is almost non-existent as most of the parking available is reserved for residents of the village.
Since Corniglia is not directly located on the coast and there is no harbor, there really is only one true way to reach Corniglia and that is by train: you won’t be able to take a ferry to the village. There is a train station located below the village at the bottom of those long steps that I mentioned earlier. You’ll need to climb those steps to access the village or take one of the shuttle buses that are sometimes available to take visitors to the top.
From La Spezia
The train trip from nearby La Spezia to Corniglia takes only 13-15 minutes as the trip is only 25 km (15.5 miles). The trains that operate on this route, including the Cinque Terre Express and the Regionale, depart frequently with the first trip at 4:18 am and the last one at 1:18 am. The price of a ticket on this route is €5 – literally the same price you pay for one-way train tickets around the Cinque Terre region.
The train ride from Pisa to Corniglia takes approximately one hour and 30 minutes – more or less, and depending on the time of day you choose to travel. The trip is much longer at 108 km (67 miles), and you’ll need to transfer once – usually in La Spezia. If you wish to reach Corniglia very early in the day, you can catch the first train at 5:21 am. The last train departs at 10:53 pm. Several lines operate on this route including Frecciabianca, InterCity and the Regionale. Tickets start at €12,20 for a one way ticket.
The trip from Florence to Corniglia on a train takes about 2.5 hours as a minimum. Early birds can catch the first train at 4:30 am (but this is not a direct train: you’ll have to change twice) to arrive in the village in time to spend the entire day exploring. The last train leaves Florence at 9:28 pm which means you’ll arrive in the middle of the night so it’s best to catch an earlier train. Tickets for this route cost start at €18.20.
Don’t forget to read my post How To Plan The Perfect Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre.
If you’re traveling from Levanto, which is only 23 km (14.3 miles) away by car, you can expect the direct trip by train to take about 12-14 minutes. Many trains travel along this route each day as well. Any day of the week, the first one departs at 4:50 am and the last one leaves at 23:28 pm. Tickets for this route also cost €5.
Best places to stay in Corniglia
Corniglia is very tiny with a small population and you may think that there is little in terms of accommodation options. Actually, despite its tiny size (this is the smallest of the Cinque Terre villages), upon a quick research you will soon realize that there’s no shortage of convenient and beautiful accommodations to suit every taste and budget.
When it comes to hotels, good value is when you book a property that offers a little more than the basics required for optimal comfort and enjoyment at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Arbanella is one of those places in Corniglia. Your room at this lovely property includes a balcony with sea views, free Wi-Fi service, air conditioning, a television and a private bathroom.
B&B Da Beppe
If you’re on a very tight budget and want to save a bulk of your cash for experiences and attractions rather than accommodations, B&B Da Beppe is your best bet and although it’s highly affordable, it’s nice, clean and well-equipped with everything you’ll need for an enjoyable stay. Guest rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, toiletries and televisions.
You’ll also find everything you need to prepare your own Italian breakfast in the morning. You can’t go wrong with the location of this property either; it’s only a short walk away from the train station and many of the village’s shops and eateries.
Affittacamere la Torre
Situated in the heart of Corniglia, Affittacamere la Torre, is well-positioned to enjoy the spectacular views surrounding the village. Air-conditioned rooms feature private bathrooms and complimentary Wi-Fi. The on-site communal rooftop terrace is where guests gather to relax and take in those views.
Affittacamere Arbasia de Ma
Another amazing budget property in Corniglia is Affittacamere Arbasia de Ma. Stunning views of the sea, top-notch service, a central location and well-equipped rooms with free Wi-Fi, refrigerators and toiletries are just some of the things you can expect when you stay at this beautiful place. You can even upgrade to a studio room which has a kitchenette and a terrace.
If luxury is what you seek in your preferred accommodations in Corniglia, you can’t go wrong with the Luxury Penthouse with sea views that’s located at Via Solferino 5. The rooms are air-conditioned and feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions with satellite service, full kitchens and balconies.
Corte Del Gallo
The top amenities at Corte Del Gallo are the garden with sea views and sun loungers and the incredible breakfast that is served in the morning during the summer months. Other on-site amenities include free Wi-Fi and rooms equipped with air conditioning, televisions, hairdryers, minibars and safes.
Affittacamere Il Timone
At Affittacamere Il Timone, you’ll find a range of convenient amenities including free Wi-Fi, a scenic terrace and rooms with flat-screen televisions, private bathrooms and desks.
Head over to my post Where To Stay In Cinque Terre.
Where to eat and drink in Corniglia
Whether it’s pasta, seafood, a mix of the two or a traditional local dish you prefer, you’ll find it on the menus at the amazing restaurants that can be found in this tiny village.
Osteria Cantina da Mananan
He may seem abrupt and unwelcoming at first, but I suggest you engage the owner of Osteria Cantina da Mananan in some friendly banter to get to know him. Once you do know him better, you’ll see that he’s as genuine as they come and he’ll make sure you get the best possible service during your visit.
The food here is absolutely delicious and fresh and the prices are very budget-friendly. Many visitors rave about the roasted rabbit and the testaroli pasta (which is traditional from the area) with a rabbit ragu sauce, but the stuffed anchovies are good too. Just try to refrain from ordering a cappuccino or a coffee with your meal as per the signs that are strategically positioned around the restaurant. It’s considered taboo to order this drink with a meal!
When you sit down to a meal at Cecio Restaurant, you sit in an ancient room that was once used for producing wine or on a terrace with stunning views of the sea. This family-run establishment serves delicious, top-quality local dishes based on recipes that were passed down through the generations. While many of the dishes are seafood-based, a wide variety of other Italian specialties are available on the menu.
La Posada Ristorante specializes in traditional Ligurian cuisine. Dishes such as octopus salad and seafood soup are popular options on the menu but there are many dishes to choose from. On-site, you’ll enjoy access to a scenic terrace, a rooftop bar and outdoor seating.
Café Pan e Vin
Cafe Pan e Vin is a tiny eatery in the center of Corniglia that has only three dining tables but a wide array of food and drink options. Whether you’re seeking a laid-back place to enjoy a delicious breakfast or somewhere to sit down and enjoy a full dinner, this restaurant will not disappoint!
On the menu, you’ll find espresso, cappuccino, freshly-squeezed fruit juice, croissants, vegan sandwiches and bruschetta. You can also book a wine tasting that includes three Cinque Terre wines (don’t forget to try the local Sciacchetrà!) and cheese and other snacks to go along with your samples.
At La Scuna Bar, you’ll find a wide range of delicious options on the menu including salads, burgers, pesto, bruschetta, Ligurian anchovies and other regional favorites. The drink menu is just as diverse with an assortment of wines, beers, cocktails, spirits and smoothies. Meals are enjoyed on the seaview terrace.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Restaurants In Cinque Terre.