Also with the new year our column on the surroundings of Levanto continues and today we bring you to Monterosso, the largest village in the Cinque Terre.
Levanto, in fact, is often chosen as an ideal destination for visiting the Cinque Terre avoiding the crowds of the high season and appreciating a more intimate and peaceful dimension, without giving up any comfort.
After day trips to Portofino and Porto Venere, today we move from a few kilometers from Levanto to reach the Cinque Terre village of Monterosso al Mare, the westernmost and most populous among the Cinque Terre towns.
From Levanto to Monterosso: how to get there
The easiest and cheapest way to get from Levanto to Monterosso is by train, which in just four minutes and without stops will take you straight to your destination. There are about thirty trains a day, so you shouldn’t have problems with time.
During the summer, starting in the spring (the exact date varies every year, but you can consult this post that we always keep up to date), there is the possibility of to reach Monterosso from Levanto by boat, a way certainly suggestive of traveling that will allow you to know also the other villages of the Cinque Terre. The price is more expensive than the train, of course, but it’s worth it to have another perspective of the Cinque Terre by sea.
There are no buses between Levanto and Monterosso, but once you arrive in the Cinque Terre village you can take one to reach the Sanctuary of Soviore, which is the oldest sanctuary in Liguria.
Even if you have a car, it is not convenient to move between Levanto and Monterosso with own vehicles due to the scarcity of parking, it is much better to use the train.
The last suggested option is also the most panoramic: the distance between Levanto and Monterosso, in fact, can be traveled on foot or by bicycle!
The trek from Levanto to Monterosso is quite simple and also accessible for children, since the difference in height is not much and it is 7 km on foot.
From Levanto to Monterosso: what to see
Like all the villages of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso makes visitors fall in love with its colorful houses perched and with the chromatic contrast between the green hills and the blue of the sea.
Not for nothing, in fact, since 1997 the Cinque Terre have been included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Monterosso is divided into two parts: the new part called Fegina and the older one. The village is located in the center of a small natural gulf closed by Punta Mesco and if you fancy a sandy beach, here you will find the largest of the Cinque Terre, while elsewhere it is found mostly rock.
Monterosso al Mare has several beaches and bathing establishments with sandy, pebbly and rocky shores at the end of the Fegina seafront, under the Aurora tower.
If you are passionate about history and architecture, in addition to sea life, things not to be missed in Monterosso they deal with religious and military architecture. There is the Oratory of the Confraternita dei Neri ‘Mortis et Orationis’ dating back to the 16th century and built in Baroque style, there is the adjacent Parish Church of San Giovanni Battista in Ligurian Gothic style built between 1244 and 1307 always in the center, the Oratory of the Confraternita dei Bianchi or of Santa Croce.
Also among the religious architecture there is the Convento dei Cappuccini and the Church of San Francesco, located on the hill of San Cristoforo which divides the old part of Monterosso from the new part of Fegina.
The convent was built in the early 1600s and houses a canvas representing the Crucifixion, attributed to the Flemish painter Van Dick. The statue of St. Francis is also in the neighborhood and there is the Aurora Tower in front of it, another symbol of Monterosso.The 16th century tower served as a defense of the city along with many other lost towers.
Also not to be missed in Monterosso is the statue of the Giant, a 14 meter high Neptune weighing 1700 tons at the end of Fegina beach.
The center of Monterosso corresponds to the “caruggi” around the church square and in front of the town. In the summer it is a pedestrian zone and walking through its narrow streets it is easy to come across shops selling typical products of the area.
Leaving from the historic center you should not miss a visit to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Soviore, at an altitude of 464 meters above sea level and built between the seventh and thirteenth centuries: the view from up there is worth the whole walk to reach it (but there is also the bus if you want!).
Another excursion that deserves around Monterosso is the one at the Literary Park dedicated to Eugenio Montale, born on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Nobel prize for literature to the poet who spent his summers here.
[Photo Credits: Daniela Barutta and José e Marina]