Starting Point of the Hike is Levanto
From Levanto train station, you can reach the streets of the pedestrian zone through Via Nuova Stazione Ferroviaria and across the bridge. The path leads past ice cream vendors, restaurants, shops, and the focaccia bakeries. The Ligurian coast is famous for its specialty, the focaccia. The salty yeast dough is baked with olive oil and is enjoyed plain or topped (classic with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil or with onions, eggplants, etc.) and briefly warmed before eating. We cross Levanto and reach the beach promenade. We walk a bit southwards, past the swimming pool to the end of the beach, where the Salita di San Giorgio hiking trail begins practically in the archway of a palazzo. The stairs lead to the medieval castle from the 17th century. This was once the seat of power during the Republic of Genoa. The Castel later served as a prison. The stairs end at Via al Mesco, which we walk a little uphill until the actual hiking trail turns. It leads through the forest parallel to the sea towards the south.
Via Punta Mesco to Santuario Madonna di Soviore
On the border between Levanto and Monterosso al Mare are Punta Mesco (crossing Semaforo) and the ruins of the chapel Sant ‘Antonio di Mesco, which was probably founded in the 14th century by Augustinian monks. At Semaforo the path divides and it is possible to descend directly to Monterosso on path no.509 (approx. 1 hour) or continue to our first hiking destination, the Santuario di Soviore monastery above Monterosso (hiking time 3 hours). Through the forest, it goes more or less on a contour line to Colla di Gritta, where there are a restaurant and a bar. At the intersection is the Monterosso – Madonna di Soviore shuttle bus stop. You have to follow the road to the Santuario Madonna di Soviore. The Madonna di Soviore monastery is 466 m above sea level and offers a beautiful view. A bus goes down from the Santuario to Monterosso. After the visit, you can easily interrupt the hike at this point and descend or drive to Monterosso.
Hike via Drignana and Sella della Cigoletta
The high-altitude hiking trail leads a little further up the street. Shortly before the La Spezia / Pignone crossroads, there is a path on the right that leads down to Madonna di Reggio and Vernazza.
We stay on the high-altitude hiking trail AV5T and go directly at the crossroads into the forest, following the signpost Drignana / Portovenere. The path leads through the forest on the side facing away from the sea. It is wide and leads to the district of Drignana without great height differences, which we pass and continue towards Cigoletta. The path leads all the time through deciduous and chestnut forests. It is shady and therefore easy to walk even in summer. In front of Monte Castello (746 m) there is a rest area (without supply) with an emergency call pillar. At the rest stop, more than half of the way from the crossing to Cigoletta has been accomplished. The highest waypoint is Monte Gaginara (800 m), from which it is about 20 minutes to the Cigoletta intersection. Since there is no kiosk or bar from Madonna di Soviore to San Bernardino, you have to bring enough food and water in your backpack. From Monte Castello, it goes gently downhill in the direction of Cigoletta for about 150 meters.
Continue via Sella della Cigoletta to Colle di Telegrafo
After breakfast the next morning with the house cake, we have to go back up to Colle Cigoletta. From there we continue to follow the path towards Portovenere. The highest climb on this piece is Monte Cuna (776 m). From here it goes slightly downhill and we come across several branches down to Corniglia, Volastra, Manarola, and at La Croce (637 m) on a direct path steeply down to the train station from Riomaggiore (path no. 501, numerous stairs). Undeterred, we follow the main hiking trail, which runs along a contour line and finally leads as a wide path directly to Colle del Telegrafo. Time for a rest and lunch with a view.
Colle di Telegrafo – Campiglia – Portovenere Mountain Trail
The high-altitude hiking trail goes a little further through the forest and then reveals the view of Campiglia (382 m), which is beautifully situated on the ridge between the Gulf of la Spezia and the open sea. The most beautiful and spectacular part of our hike starts from Campiglia. There are two variants: a slightly longer and more comfortable and the shorter, sensational variant high above the coast over the rocks. Shortly before the steep descent to Portovenere, there is a small Rifugio Muzzerone, where there are simple pasta dishes, panini, and drinks. With the beautiful view of the Gulf of la Spezia, this detour is definitely recommended. The area is intended for mountaineers and climbing tours, maps are available at the Rifugio. The descent to Portovenere offers fantastic views over the castle ruins, the island of Palmaria, the headland with the church of San Michele. A long stone staircase at the ruins of the Castello on the eastern side offers a view of the Gulf of Spezia with the military port and the offshore islands before you finally dive into the colorful streets of Portovenere.