Corniglia is the central village and also the smallest of the Cinque Terre. It is unique compared to the other villages for its position, its history and its traditions.
The Borgo, in fact, was built on top of a rock 100 meters above the sea, which is why it is known as the “Balcony of the Cinque Terre”.
Precisely this difference in altitude defended the people of Corniglia from the attacks of the Saracen pirates and, for this reason, in the village you will find smaller houses than in other places near the sea.
But fear not, even here you will be captivated by the pastel colors of the traditional Ligurian houses and by the labyrinth of alleys and “caruggi” that hide wonderful views.
Here people grew up among the fields rather than the waves of the sea: Corniglia is surrounded by the characteristic Ligurian terraces where olive trees and vines have been cultivated for centuries. Here the myth of local wine was born.
Corniglia, due to its perched position, is perhaps the least visited village among those of the Cinque Terre. But it is the village that offers the most spectacular panorama and, strange to say, the one from which you will reach the best beaches of the Cinque Terre: a 10-minute walk away you can find the Guvano Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Liguria!
Where to sleep in Corniglia
Corniglia is the smallest village of the Cinque Terre and also the one with fewer solutions where to sleep. In fact, here there are no hotels: those who prefer this type of accommodation are better off looking in other locations.
To stay overnight in Corniglia you can choose between apartments for tourist use and B&B. The level of the facilities is mid-level, and the price is quite affordable as long as your trip is planned a little in advance: the best rooms sell out quickly!
Those looking for an economic solution can choose the hostel located not far from the center.
Unlike the other Cinque Terre villages, remember to check the location of your accommodation on the map, which could be in the village or in the beach area.
How to get to Corniglia
The most practical and fastest way to reach Corniglia is, without a doubt, the train. Corniglia station is on the Genoa-La Spezia line and trains run practically every 20 minutes, especially during the summer season, when the trains of the 5 Terre Express line also come into service.
From the station to the Borgo, you can go up by walking along the famous Lardarina Staircase. This steep uphill walk takes around 20 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take the bus that goes up to the town from the station. This shuttle does not have precise timetables. It leaves every time the seats are filled and if you don’t find a seat you can just wait for the next ride.
Using the car to reach Corniglia is not at all complicated even if the village is served by a rather small car park of about 90 spaces. In the summer months it fills up quickly in the early hours of the day.
However, the road is simple: from the A12 motorway, exit at Santo Stefano di Magra following the signs for La Spezia, then Cinque Terre, Portovenere and finally take the provincial road to Corniglia.
What to see in Corniglia
In Corniglia, it is not possible to write a long list of monuments and museums to visit, one must admire the charm of this village in its uniqueness.
The village can be discovered along the main street, via Fieschi, which connects the viewpoint of Santa Maria to the Church of San Pietro. Every corner and every “caruggio” can offer unique views and panoramic points of the sea, the vineyards, and the other villages.
Largo Taragio is the main square of Corniglia, where you can admire the Oratory of Santa Caterina, a very simple church that hides a beautiful terrace on the back from which you can enjoy a beautiful view.
Behind the church there is a steep staircase that leads to the Piazzetta del Fosso where the remains of a sixteenth-century tower are located and from which you can admire a wonderful view to the east.
Church of San Pietro
The church of San Pietro was built between 1334 and 1351 and has a very sober sandstone facade with a beautiful rose window. In white Carrara marble, it has a very elaborate shape, with all different designs and, in the central hole, a deer symbol of the village. The cornice is “saw-toothed”, with hanging arches, some of which are decorated with animal heads.
The Lardarina Staircase
La Lardarina is the staircase that connects the Borgo to the railway station and to the sea. it is 377 steps long and is divided into 33 ramps.
It is certainly not an ideal itinerary for the lazy, at least uphill, but you cannot say that you have lived in Corniglia without having climbed it!
Viewpoint of the terrace of Santa Maria
From the Belvedere on the terrace of Santa Maria you can admire all the Cinque Terre and, on clear days, even the coasts of Corsica. Without doubt this is the most spectacular panorama of Corniglia.
Don’t miss it!
Corniglia is definitely not the ideal location in Liguria for those who want to organize a beach holiday. From this perched village, however, it is very easy to reach some of the best beaches of all the Cinque Terre.
The beaches that can be easily reached by walking are essentially three:
The Guvano beach is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Liguria which in fact in the seventies was very popular with nudists and hippies. The beach is a mixture of sand and white pebbles, the water is clear and clean, and the microclimate makes the surrounding vegetation green and luxuriant
To reach it you have to walk through an old railway tunnel that starts from the Lardarina Staircase.
The Corniglia beach, on the other hand, is close to the train station and is very easy to reach. In terms of charm, it is not comparable to the Guvano beach, but it is perfect for a dip on hot summer days.
Finally, the Marina di Corniglia is a cliff at the bottom of a staircase that starts from the Borgo on the opposite side from the train station.
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