We were planning on taking the coastal path between the two villages but it was closed, so instead we took the mountainous route (also known as the “red route”) via the village of Volastra. The hike was supposed to take around 2.5 hrs, and was a challenging route with a very steep ascent and descent on a path that varied from narrow stone steps to dirt to uneven rocks with jagged boulders.
The route was incredibly varied for what was a relatively short hike, and it became a fascinating journey through a constantly evolving landscape. After 20 minutes of a challenging ascent from Manarola, we arrived at an incredible vantage point with the village far below us and the sea’s sparkling, misty expanse far below it. We continued climbing through olive groves, walking on a narrow path cut into the side of the mountain with ancient terraced vineyards on either side of us.
We also encountered pine forests and tunnels of ancient woodland along the way, while the sea was rarely out of sight. The small village of Volastra was a welcome break at the top, with a cafe where we bought some much-needed refreshments. The hike took us just over two hours and we arrived in Corniglia just in time to watch the sunset with a glass of Sangiovese from the small garden of the local Enoteca.