Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Corniglia: A Budget Room with a Ritzy View

For the past week, I've been following the blog of travel writer Rick Steve as he visited my favorite area of Italy--the Cinque Terre. For those of you who aren't familiar with this little slice of paradise, Cinque Terre is a cluster of five small fishing villages perched precariously along the rocky Ligurian Coast, just south of La Spezia. Isolated from the rest of the country by mountains and connected only by train or a rugged hiking trail, the villages are known for their wine, seaside solitude, and dramatic countryside.

Steve's blog posts brought back memories of our search for a cheap room with a view.....

We arrived in Corniglia, the third in the string of villages, by train. From the station, we climbed an enormous brick and stone staircase (la lardarina) zigzagging about 100 meters straight up, 382 steps in all. We had no choice--it was the only way to get to town! It was an exhausting, to say the least, but we stopped frequently along the way to take in the breathtaking views of the sea below. The town itself is small and simple with one main corridor and of course, a church. Although Monterosso is the main hub of the Cinque Terre and Vernazza the most popular for it's beautiful waterfront, we preferred Corniglia's peaceful nature. Here we could truly relax.

We meandered through town until we reached the end of a narrow walkway lined with white-washed buildings. A brass sign next to a massive green door advertised a room for rent. We rang the bell.

The proprietor, an elderly 4-foot-tall woman with the energy of a 15-year-old, briskly ushered us into a small vestibule filled with crates of grapes. Her husband and son-in-law had picked the fruit that morning. Speaking rapid-fire Italian, she led us upstairs to a small guest room. A queen-size bed occupied most of the space.

What a view: Corniglia!

When she had our full attention, she dramatically pushed open the window shutters. The echo of gulls and rhythm of the surf filled the room. In the distance, dozens of tiny fishing boats bobbed peacefully on the sea. And below us was a narrow, steep arroyo covered with a patchwork of velvety green vineyards. Morning mist blanketed the eastern slopes as silhouetted farmers moved across the terraced face harvesting fruit. We had found our home for the next three nights, and that evening, on an upstairs balcony overlooking the village, we celebrated our discovery with a glass of wine.

The apartment is now part of Italy's agritourism, and is called "La Rocca." The present owner is the daughter of the woman we met all those years ago. She has two newly renovated rooms for rent. Each room has a private bath both with that glorious view.

La Rocca
Via Fieschi 222, Corniglia
Rooms 38 euros, no breakfast
Telephone: +39 0187 812 178  


  1. he heart of Cinque Terre is in Prevo, a tiny hamlet of Vernazza located exactly in "The heart of Cinque Terre" is located in the center of Cinque Terre National Park, along the Blue Path (Sentiero Azzurro), 2 km far from Corniglia and 2 km from Vernazza.
    Prevo is the highest and most impressive spot of the Blue Path at 208 meters above sea level: you can see the islands of Tuscany archipelago and the Corsica (France) too.
    Learn more:

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