SP51 Cinque Terre: Monterosso a Mare(sh) - Manarolo

Riding along the Cinque Terre terrace road is one of the great scenic experiences of the Italian Riviera coast. If you consider all the various sideroads down to the cinque coastal villages, there are enough climbing roads to keep you busy for a long long time. You could also think of these roads as approaches to summit points on the terrace road. Most of these would be shoulder summits. I think you would have to live here to ride all of these possibilities.

However - even just staying on the Cinque Terre terrace road, the route conveniently divides itself into two summit points. Coming from the north, first comes the lower summit point, the approach starting in La Spezia. It crests, and then descends to the turnoff to the first village, Manarolo. From the turnoff the terrace road starts climbing again and reaches a higher point - the one described here - before descending again to the turnoff to Monterosso a Mare. The profile includes the two descends to the villages at the coast.

This more northerly part of the Cinque Terre (that is this summit point) road is quieter, has less traffic and even better cycling conditions than the southern part.

1.(10m,00.0km) START-END EAST: beach in Monterosso a Mare
2.(340m,05.6km) profile turns right onto Cinque Terre road
3.(540m,5.5km) Foce de Termine, route stays right at this intersection
4.(550m,9.7km) TOP: highest point of altitude
5.(470m,11.6km) earstern turnoff to Vernazza
6.(470m,17.0km) western turnoff to Vernazza and Corniglia
7.(180m,23.6km) profile turns right, from Cinque Terre road to Riomaggionr
8.(20m,24.9km) START-END WEST: Riomaggiore, western side; the last part of this is a footpath


From West. (described upwards) Before you can ride this upwards, you have to ride it downwards, and it may be difficult to leave this small, artfully sculpted beach with its monuments, natural and man made, its model like railroad burrowing through the village like an earthworm. And for some it may be hard to leave its restaurants. This last point is, not from my own experience, but what I observed in others.

This place is tiny. But I found it impossible to leave before I had walked up to the castle tower on a protruding rock. This rock acts like a rock curtain, separating the viewsheds for this beach, from the other part of town, on the other side of the mountain, and I just had to see what was over there.

But there is plenty to focus attention on this side too. Through the middle of this beach in an amphitheater runs a railroad, emerging out of the mountain on one side. Only a handful of railroad cars ever see daylight at the same time, before disappearing again in the tunnel on the opposite side. The tracks along the beach run over a bridge, which doubles as a building for tourist businesses. Automobiles have no place in this scene. They had to be abandoned (parked) next to the road, 700ft above. On a bicycle you can ride into this magic little space.

Now for the actual riding part, upwards - leaving Monterosso a Mare up towards the Cinque Terra road. the first part is very steep. But I didn't have time to really notice because I was preoccupied stopping numerous times, to see how this magic beach space looks from above. Even when you reach the part of the road where the cars are allowed to move again, there really are only very few. The road soon becomes regular width and passes through two short tunnels before joining SP36. After a short distance the profiled route stays right (it stays on the mediterranean side), turning onto SP71. You need an altimeter to figure out the actual summit point. But it is located soon after the turnoff.

From East (described downwards) Taking the next right back down to the town Venazza still makes this same point the highest point on the profile. Heading down towards Venazza there are some nice birdseye views only a few hundred feet after the turnoff. But I didn't actually see them until I climbed back up, because -paradoxically- that's the direction they face, and sometimes you have to watch the road too. Venazza seems to be a quieter village than Monterosso or Manarolo. But during my visit, this was not surprising because the lower part of the road was closed because of a landslide.

Back up on the terrace road, it stays at about the same level and then descends towards the coast ever so slowly, delivering one great view after another. I did not try the next descend to Corniglia for time reasons. The turnoff to Manarolo is much lower than the to the previous villages, only about 100m above sealevel. Many more tourists frequent this town. Many arrive by train and emerge from the underground railroad station, to wander around the church and copious amount of small houses, squeezed into a tiny space between two cliffs.

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


SP51 Cinque Terre: Manarolo - Monterosso a Mare x2 , SP51 Cinque Terre: Vernazza - Manarola(sh) , SP370Cinque Terre: La Spezia - Manarola s(u) : La Spezia > SP51 Cinque Terre: La Spezia - Manarola > Manarola << SP51 Cianue Terre: Manarola - Monterosso > Monterosso a Mare << SP51 Cinque Terre: Vernazza - Monterosso a Mare > turnaround point several hundred feet above Vernazza > SP370 La Spezia - Manarola > back to starting point in La Spezia with several km of grocery shopping detour: 64.3miles with 6294ft of climbing in 6:33hrs (Garmin etrex30 14.5.28)
Notes: basically this is an out and back ride between La Spezia and Monterosso a Mare, and taking sidetrips to whatever Cinque Terre Villages that seemed the most interesting.

The last day with different start and endpoints on this tour was: SP10 Castelnuovo di Garfagnana - Cerrovezzo