CINQUE TERRE — Corniglia

The tiny village of Corniglia which is the third of the Cinque Terre villages dates back to Roman times. It is perched on a small promontary, 100 metres above the sea and from the village the views are spectacular. The village is enclosed on three sides by steep vineyards and terraces and the fourth side descends steeply into the Mediterranean Sea. Corniglia is the quietest and most remote of all the towns in the Cinque Terre and to reach it you must be prepared to climb the long flight of brick stairs called Lardarina. It is a very difficult climb and is only for the very fit as there are 33 flights with 377 steps that zig zag their way to town. The alternative way of reaching the village is to either walk the road from the train station or wait for the frequent shuttle buses which are often timed with the arriving trains. Corniglia is the only Cinque Terre town that isn’t directly connected to the sea and as such it has a long and rich agricultural tradition. The whole village is found along the main street of Via Fieschi and the houses here, unlike the other Cinque Terre towns are set lower but are still brightly coloured. If you continue down the main street you will come to Piazzeta Ciapara and after this there is a quaint network of narrow alleyways which are great to explore.

Traveller's Tip

For a fantastic view of the vineyards that are typical of the Cinque Terre area as well as the marina of Corniglia take the small road called Via alla Marina which is off Via Fieschi. You will come to a viewing spot over a narrow inlet where you will see the marina directly below you and the steep terraced hills opposite.

The sights found here are:
Largo Taragio
The Church of San Pietro
The Oratory of the Disciplinati of Saint Catherine
The Sanctuary of our Lady of Graces

Terrace of Santa Maria

Largo Taragio
This is the main square of the village and it dates from the 18th century. On the square you will find the Oratory of Santa Caterina as well as an ancient well which used to provide water from the natural springs to the town’s inhabitants. Also on this square is a Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers from WW1. If you continue further through the village you will come to the scenic terrace of Santa Maria with its glorious uninterrupted views of the entire coast of the Cinque Terre.

Traveller's Tip

This square is a good place to have lunch either in one of the cafes found near here or you could buy something from one of the shops and have a picnic. Behind the church on the square is a football field where you will find benches to sit down and enjoy your picnic lunch.
The Church of San Pietro

The Church of San Pietro
This church was built in 1334 on the site of an 11th century chapel and is considered one of the most interesting Ligurian Gothic style monuments in the region. In 1351 a rose window of Carrara white marble was added to its facade. This rose window was the work of Pistoians Matteo and Pietro da Campigna. A highlight of the interior are the two beautiful stained glass windows that are found behind the high altar. Another interesting feature of the interior is the baptismal font that dates from the 12th century. The church is dedicated to San Pietro who was the patron saint of Corniglia. Each year on June 29 there is a religious procession through the streets of the village from the Parish of San Pietro to the terrace of Santa Maria. It is customary to offer all of the participants in this festival a taste of the traditional cake ‘Torta dei Fieschi’ which is made of rice, cheese, eggs and baked in the oven. The Cinque Terre Organ Festival is also held in this church every summer.

Traveller's Tip

Make sure you look at the statue of St Peter found above the main door of the church.
The Oratory of the Disciplinati of Saint Catherine

The Oratory of the Disciplinati of Saint Catherine
This 18th century Oratory is found above Largo Taragio. A highlight of the interior of the Oratory is the ceiling above the altar which is painted to look like the sky and the painting beneath the central dome. From the back of the church you have a wonderful view of the sea.

The Sanctuary of our Lady of Graces

The Sanctuary of our Lady of Graces
The Sanctuary of our Lady of Graces is found in the village of San Bernadino which is a short distance from Corniglia. You can get here by the shuttle bus or you can take an uphill walk from Vernazzia. It was built as the result of a 19th century restoration of the existing medieval chapel that stood here. It was founded by St Bernard of Sienna who prayed in this area for many years. The interior of the Sanctuary houses a painting of the Madonna with Child found above the altar which is placed between a picture of St Bernard of Chiaravalle and St Bernard of Siena.