Hiking the Italian coastline
There is a section of the Sentiero Liguria hiking trail which stretches from Santa Margarita through Portofino to the abbey at San Fruttoso and on to Camogli, or even to Lecco if you’d like to tack on an extra 30 minutes to be rewarded by the best focaccia de formaggio in the world. The hike takes about 8 hours to complete and is challenging, not suitable for those who are not regularly active. But if you’re willing to spend a day and work up a sweat, this trail is much less crowded than the nearby tourist-laden Cinque Terre and provides equally picturesque scenery. Located 2 and a half hours by train from Milan, about an hour north of the Cinque Terre, the Sentiero de Liguria is definitely one of my favorite hiking trails in the world. Curious what the trail is like? Luckily for you, I snapped a few photos during one of the best sections of the hike, and I’m happy to share them with you here.
1.) The start in Santa Margarita
Within 5 minutes of getting off the train in Santa Margarita, you’ll be strolling along the royal blue sea past luxurious beach mansions, hotels, and apartment complexes where the rich and wealthy come to spend their weekends. Keep following the sidewalk along the sea as you pass the stunning beaches, admiring views like this:
2.) The rich and famous Portofino
After about an hour and a half of walking at a brisk speed, you’ll find yourself entering the tiny hamlet of Portofino, where the richest of the rich own second (or third) homes overlooking the petite harbor. Although beautiful, I found Portofino to be a little too snobbish for me. And the prices of everything were crazily inflated compared to other towns along the coast. But if I had a private yacht, I might consider paying for a spot in this tiny harbor:
3.) The Abbey of San Fruttoso
Moving past Portofino, it’s time for the real workout to begin. You’re headed up, up, up a whole lot of stairs. I was pouring sweat and so thankful I’d packed 2 liters of water and electrolytes mix. Once you’ve done a whole lot of up, it’s time to navigate the trail along the cliffs overlooking the sea, which is far below you. After about 2 hours of walking, you will descend to the Abbey of San Fruttoso. Most people get there by boat (which is cheating, but way easier). The small beach there is gorgeous and perfect for taking a swim to cool off. I changed into my swimsuit in the public restrooms, then enjoyed at least a half hour in the refreshing water. San Fruttoso looks like this:
You have 2 choices when hiking out of San Fruttoso. You can go back the way you came to Portofino and Santa Margarita, or you can continue on towards Camogli. There are signs on the trail to Camogli warning that the trail is only for advanced hikers. Please believe the warnings. There are several sections of the trail with steep drop offs towards the rock cliffs below. And sections where you should hold on to ropes and chains to help you with especially steep ascents and descents. But the beauty of the trail is certainly worth the effort, so push on if you are prepared. On the way to Camogli, you’ll enjoy views like this:
And when you make it into Camogli, you can grab a glass of wine (or perhaps take another swim) and recover in a cute cafe overlooking the beach in this postcard perfect beach town:
If you continue walking along the coast past Camogli for another 30 minutes, you can arrive in Lecco. Although not nearly as beautiful as Camogli, the focaccia de formaggio there is worth the walk. Although there are many varieties of foccacia de formaggio, Lecco’s version beats the others by far. Similar to a Mexican quesadilla, but with much more flavor, more thin bread, and even more cheese. Enjoy it, because after 8 hours of hiking on a tough trail, you’ve earned the right to savory Lecco’s foccacia masterpiece.
I hope this post has left you feeling motivated to hike the Italian coast line. I’ll be posting more about hiking the Sentiero de Liguria trail network in future posts. If you’d like advice about planning a trip to hike in Italy, send me a message at email@example.com to discuss Taylorised Travel planning options for your trip!