When we first set out to begin our hike we were disappointed to find that two of the sections were closed due to rock slides. We were told that we could instead do an alternate route that goes up away from the coast. We were bummed because the coastal aspect is one of the main appeals to this hike. So we did the first section from Monterosso to Vernazza on the coastal path and it was absolutely stunning. After a snack and a bit of village exploration we set out on the second section to Corniglia. We were immediately pleased to find that the alternate route was just as amazing and in some ways more so. It still provided gorgeous coastal views, only from a higher vantage point, and it also added a new element of forests and vineyards. The alternate pathways are longer in distance and duration and require much more ascending, but are well worth it. The section from Corniglia to Manarola was also closed, so we took the alternate pathway. This proved to be one of our favorite sections of the entire trail. The majority of the hike is spent cutting through hilltop vineyards as you peer down on the sea below. You even pass through a hill-top village called Volastra that may just be one of the most quaint and serene places we have ever passed through. Another appeal to this alternate footpaths is there are less people using them, so you get more of the beauty to yourself! The final section from Manarola to Riomaggoire is known as the Via dell’Amore, the lovers trail, and it draws more tourists than any other section. It is also the only section that is a paved walkway. The views are beautiful, but you can rarely enjoy them because of the people pushing past, taking photos or making out. That section not included, due to the beautiful views and the atmosphere in the villages, this has been one of our favorite hikes. While here we also made sure to make time to enjoy the sea. This was Sophie’s first visit to the beach and she absolutely loved being in the water. She was not, however, fond of the rocky beach…unfortunately no sand. We have throughly enjoyed our time here and highly recommend it to anyone who ever finds themselves in Italy. Tomorrow we head to Milan.