The local sanctuaries in Cinque Terre constitute one of the most popular trekking trails. There are five in total, one for each village, and they are located just above the correspondent inhabited centers. A few centuries ago, nearby the current locations of these sanctuaries stood the ancient cores of the villages.
Religious tourism in Italy is quite popular and this hiking trail, together with the local churches represents the major pilgrimage activity of the Riviera.
Besides this, the hiking trail that connects the sanctuaries is also peculiar for its location and panorama. Its path goes along the coastline above the villages and it connects them all. In fact, you will be able to go downhill to reach each one of the villages along the way.
The panorama is stunning: most of the sanctuaries offer a view from above of the coastline and Cinque Terre. The trail itself it’s composed of some sections in the woods (made of a Mediterranean scrub ecosystem) and some across small villages such as Volastra.
Trekking in Cinque Terre: Things to Know About the Sanctuaries Trail
Duration: From Monterosso to Riomaggiore: 6.5 hours /Small sections (from one village to the corresponding sanctuary): the average is around 40/50 minutes.
Sanctuaries in Cinque Terre: The Trail Step by Step
From Monterosso you will have to go uphill, taking the trail No. 509 (ex 09), mainly made of stone stairs. Along the way you will be able to notice small chapels for prayer with miniature statues of the Madonna.
The sanctuary of Soviore dates back to 1244 and it’s among the oldest sanctuary of Italy (the oldest in Liguria). The present church was built in the 18th century. The foundations and floors of the ancient church can still be seen and there is an image of the Madonna probably from the 15th century.
From Soviore the trail continues on the left with No. 591. It overlaps with an asphalt road until it crosses trail No. 582, which leads to the Sanctuary of Reggio, above Vernazza. This section is from 500 to 350 meters above sea level and the last part overlaps with the provincial route (No.63). You will be able to admire the beautiful Vernazza from above.
The origins of the Sanctuary of Reggio dates back to 1248. Inside the church you will be able to admire a painting of the Madonna Nera and numerous ex voto.
From the second sanctuary, you will have to proceed along trail No. 581 (direction: San Bernardino). This path is 5 kilometers long, through cultivated land and dry stone walls. After crossing the road SP 61 you will reach the so-called Sanctuary of San Bernardino, above Corniglia.
The full name is Sanctuary of Nostra Signora delle Grazie and its origins date back to 1584. Inside the church, there is another painting of the Madonna, this time with a child. The festival of the sanctuary is celebrated on the 8th of September.
To get to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute, above Manarola, you will have to follow trail No.507 (direction: Cigoletta). This section is a bit uphill and it crosses the roads SP 61 and Sp 51 in two places. After a brief asphalted section you will have to follow the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre (AV5T) for a while. After the crossroad with trail No.587 for Corniglia, you will be able to reach trail No. 506: this is the one you have to follow.
It will get you to the small village of Volastra and the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute. This church dates back to 1240. It presents a gothic, roman, and baroque style and it also hosts another painting of the Virgin.
From Volastra you will have to go on to reach path No.530 (direction: Telegrafo). This section is along a driveway and it’s 7 kilometers long. The crossroad with the trail SVA-593 will take you to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenero, the last stop of this trekking itinerary.
The sanctuary square offers a stunning view of the entire coastline and of Riomaggiore from above. It will take just 10 minutes to get down to the main road where buses for La Spezia stop or about 20 minutes to reach Riomaggiore.
The Sanctuary of Montenero dates back to 1335 and it hosts a painting of the Madonna with the apostles. The local celebration is on Whit Monday and there is a festival in the church square.
Tips by Locals:
- The Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute is reachable also just taking the bus for Volastra from Manarola.
- You can also reach the Sanctuary of Montenero from the “litoranea” main street to get to Cinque Terre by car/bus. There are some stairs that will lead you to the sanctuary in just 10 minutes.
- If you don’t have time to do the entire trail itinerary I suggest you just visit Montenero and then do the trail section from Monterosso to Vernazza to enjoy the view.
- The Sanctuary of Reggio is also reachable by car
- Holidays and celebration of the sanctuaries:
- Soviore: 7 luglio Festa del Ritrovamento / 15 agosto Festa del Santuario
- Nostra Signora di Reggio: 2 Sunday of May – Festa del Cristo / 1st Sunday of August – Festa della Madonna di Reggio
- Nostra Signora delle Grazie and Nostra Signora della Salute: 8th of September
- Montenero: Whit Monday and 4th of July