Corniglia: The Complete Guide

Corniglia, known as Corniggia in Ligurian and locally referred to as Curnigia (citation needed), is a hamlet within the comune of Vernazza in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. It has a population of approximately 150 people as of 2016. Unlike the other localities of the Cinque Terre, Corniglia is not situated directly by the sea. Instead, it is perched atop a promontory that stands about 100 meters high. The village is surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, while the fourth side descends steeply towards the sea. To reach Corniglia, visitors must ascend the Lardarina, a lengthy flight of 33 brick steps comprising a total of 383 steps. Alternatively, a vehicular road from the station leads to the village, and occasionally a small bus operates.

The village extends along the main road, Fieschi Road, and the houses are positioned with one side facing this road and the other side facing the sea. Corniglia is characterized by its narrow roads and a rocky terrace that offers panoramic views of the other four villages of the Cinque Terre, with two villages visible on each side. The town’s urban structure displays distinctive features compared to the other villages, with lower-set houses that have been constructed higher in more recent times, resembling the villages of the hinterland.

Corniglia is mentioned in Giovanni Boccaccio’s famous novella, Decameron, and in Jennifer Egan’s novel, The Invisible Circus.

Visiting Corniglia for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Corniglia on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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History of Corniglia

The town’s origin can be traced back to the Roman Age, evident in its name derived from Gens Cornelia, the Roman family that owned the land. During the Middle Ages, it came under the possession of the counts of Lavagna, the lords of Carpena, and of Luni. In 1254, Pope Innocent IV granted it to Nicolò Fieschi, who retained control until 1276 when the Republic of Genoa acquired the village.

3 Best places to See in Corniglia

This complete guide to Corniglia not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Corniglia and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Church of San Pietro

Corniglia, Chiesa Di San Pietro
CC BY-SA 3.0 / sailko
Situated in the elevated section of Corniglia, the parish church of San Pietro holds its presence. Fronted by a churchyard adorned with vestiges of polychrome cobblestones, its establishment was commissioned by the Fieschi family. A plaque on the facade, inscribed with the year 1334, marks the initiation of the edifice’s construction. This endeavor encompassed the […]
Location: Chiesa Di San Pietro, Via Fieschi, Corniglia, SP, Italy | Distance: 0.60km
Visiting Church of San Pietro

Oratory of the Disciplinati di Santa Caterina

Corniglia, Oratorio Dei Disciplinati
CC BY-SA 3.0 / sailko
In the heart of the village, within the expanse of Largo Taragio square, resides the oratory of the Disciplinati di Santa Caterina. Originating in the eighteenth century, this petite edifice showcases a façade with a weathered gable. Here, a modest portal is crowned by a niche housing a statue of the saint and accompanied by […]
Location: Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina, Via Stazione, Corniglia, SP, Italy | Distance: 0.70km
Visiting Oratory of the Disciplinati di Santa Caterina

Santuario di Nostra Signora delle Grazie, Cinque Terre

Santuario Di Nostra Signora Delle Grazie, Cinque Terre
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Davide Papalini
The sanctuary of Nostra Signora delle Grazie or San Bernardino is a Catholic place of worship situated in the locality of San Bernardino within the municipality of Vernazza, in the province of La Spezia. The sanctuary is part of the “Sanctuaries of the Cinque Terre,” along with the sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero in […]
Visiting Santuario di Nostra Signora delle Grazie, Cinque Terre

Best Time to Visit Corniglia

Throughout the year, Corniglia and Cinque Terre offer a range of unique experiences, making it a destination suitable for year-round visits. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to plan your visit:

Spring (March to May): During spring, the area enjoys mild and pleasant temperatures, with nature coming to life as flowers bloom. Hiking trails become accessible, and the sea offers a calm environment for swimming. This season allows you to explore the charming villages before the summer crowds descend.

Summer (June to August): The summer months bring extended sunny days, providing the perfect backdrop for swimming and beach relaxation. However, this is also the peak tourist season, characterized by substantial crowds, particularly in July and August. To escape the heat and the masses, consider scheduling your visits for early mornings or late afternoons.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn is a splendid time to discover Corniglia. It offers mild temperatures, reduced rainfall, and a vibrant local vineyard scene with full harvests. This is an opportunity to savour new wines and take part in local festivals. Hiking trails of Cinque Terre remain open, although daylight hours gradually decrease.

Winter (December to February): The winter season is the most tranquil period in Corniglia. The villages exude a peaceful ambiance, and accommodation prices are at their lowest. However, temperatures can be quite chilly. This season is ideal for those seeking a serene experience, even though some hiking trails may be closed for maintenance.

Corniglia caters to various preferences and activities throughout the year, whether you’re looking for warm beach days, serene hiking adventures, or cultural festivals.

Average Temperatures in Corniglia

  • January 12°C 17
  • February 13°C 19
  • March 15°C 15
  • April 18°C 12
  • May 21°C 12
  • June 26°C 8
  • July 30°C 4
  • August 29°C 7
  • September 25°C 13
  • October 21°C 24
  • November 16°C 28
  • December 13°C 22

How to get to Corniglia

Flying to Corniglia: For air travel, the closest airports are in Pisa (about 110 km) and Genoa (practically the same distance). Travelers can take the train or rent a car from these airports. Another option is Milan Malpensa, approximately 300 km away, accessible by car through the Malpensa SS336 highway, A4, west ring road, A1, and A15 to La Spezia. Train travellers can use bus services or the Malpensa Express train to reach the central station.

Driving to Corniglia: Corniglia is centrally situated in the Cinque Terre, nestled between Manarola and Vernazza. Unlike Riomaggiore and Manarola, the road to Corniglia narrows in its final stretch, making the car less optimal for transportation. The town features only a small car park known as the Corniglia car park.  For travellers coming from central, eastern, and southern Italy, take the La Spezia-Santo Stefano Magra exit on the A12-A15. Keep left and follow the SS370 to La Spezia, approximately 10 km away. Proceed through Via Carducci, then turn left onto Viale Italia, which turns sharply right in front of the arsenal, becoming Viale Amendola. At the traffic light, turn left, following signs for the Cinque Terre. Now on Via Fieschi, pass the La Spezia football stadium, and at the traffic lights, continue uphill along the Via delle Cinque Terre, a 25 km route leading to Corniglia.

For those arriving from western and northern Italy, exit in Carrodano-Levanto on the A12, approximately 35 km from Corniglia, reachable in about an hour. From the toll booth, turn left towards Levanto and the Cinque Terre at the intersection with the SP566dir. Ascend initially, then descend through Montale and Casella, reaching a roundabout before Levanto. Follow signs for Monterosso, climbing tortuously through Legnaro and Chiesa Nuova. Before descending to Monterosso, turn left uphill towards Vernazza, passing Soviore sanctuary and taking the SP38 until the SP51 where the Corniglia sign appears at 12.5 km. Pass through Drignana, Case Fornacchi, San Bernardino, and finally, Corniglia.

Taking to Train to Corniglia: Corniglia is also accessible by train, with the station located just over a kilometer from the town. A shuttle connects the station to the village, or visitors can take the paved road or the renowned Lardarina staircase. The Genoa-La Spezia line serves the station, with ticket prices at 5 euros in 2023 and 2.5 euros for children.

 

Tours and Activities from Corniglia