Vernazza is the second of the Cinque Terre coming from Monterosso. Surrounded by typical terraces with dry stone walls, the town stands out on a rocky spur that is wedged into the sea.
It probably owes its name to the Latin "verna", meaning "of the place". According to others, it derives instead from an ancient Roman family that owns the land, the Gens Vulnetia. The first inhabitants settled on the heights, near the current sanctuary of Our Lady of Reggio and from the year 1000 they went down to the sea. In 1016 a first settlement on the coast is attested and in 1080 Vernazza is documented as “castrum Vernatio”, a maritime center of the Frankish Obertenghi family. Lords of the area in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the village was given to Genoa in 1209, had a parenthesis with the domain of the Da Passano and Fieschi, before returning to the Republic in 1273. From this moment the village was fortified, with walls, ramparts and watchtowers on the sea, following the Genoan vicissitudes up to the now.
What to see
The village develops along the Vernazzola stream, now covered, where there is the main alley, Via Roma which then becomes Via Visconti up to the small square of the marina and the church of Santa Margherita. On the sides, there are a series of alleys and steep stairways including Via Agostino del Santo on the right and Via Carattino on the left. The narrow alleyways are overlooked by colorful tower houses, but also refined palaces.
The main monument of the town is the church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia, dedicated to the patron saint of the town. Located on the sea, it is mentioned for the first time in 1318, but its construction is earlier, probably in the 12th century, by the Antelami masters. They say a wooden box with the bones of a finger of Santa Margherita appeared on the beach and a church was erected in Vernazza. A storm caused the relic to be lost, which reappeared in the same spot where it was first found and the church was rebuilt there. Remodeled several times, it passed from the initial Romanesque style to a Baroque and then Romanesque again. Very characteristic are the black stone columns of the Mesco cave, the Gothic tabernacle of the fifteenth century and the mighty octagonal bell tower of 40 meters in height.
The other symbolic monument of Vernazza is the Doria castle overlooking the sea, of which the circular tower and parts of the walls remain. Dating back to the 11th century, it was part of a wider defense system, which included a wall and fortifications in the upper part of the town. The watchtower stands on a quadrangular base and was restored in the 20th century after damage suffered in the Second World War. Under the castle, next to the small port, there is the quadrangular bastion Belforte, of Genoese origin.
In the upper part of the village dominates the ancient convent of the Reformed Fathers of San Francesco from the seventeenth century, currently the municipal seat, consisting of a tower, a cloister and a deconsecrated church used as an exhibition venue and for musical and theatrical performances.
Finally, located on the heights, stands the sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio, of the 11th century, where an effigy of the Black Madonna is venerated, according to the tradition brought here during the time of the Crusades.
Discover all the monuments of Vernazza: what to see in Vernazza.
Where to stay (updated 2021)
In Vernazza it is possible to stay mainly in bed & breakfast and rooms places here and there beautiful village. There are a couple of hotels and also a farmhouse.
Where to eat (updated 2021)
Among the alleys of the village or in the square in front of the sea, there are many places for a lunch or dinner: restaurants and trattorie, in addition to the numerous bars and winebars in Vernazza.
The trekking trails
The sanctuary can be reached on foot from Vernazza in two ways: along the path 507 to San Bernardino and then the 581 which climbs up to the Madonna di Reggio; or by taking the 508 that goes up from Vernazza to Foce Drignana. Other paths that start or arrive from Vernazza wind along the famous Blue Path and are the 592-3 towards Corniglia and the 592-4 towards Monterosso, highly scenic.
For those who want to cool off in the Vernazza sea, there are two possibilities. In front of the church of Santa Margherita there is a small sandy beach, and on the right towards Monterosso, large rocks. The other option is the stony beach located beyond the natural opening of the cliff that you meet on the left along Via Roma. Here you will find all the information on beaches of Vernazza
How to get
To get to Vernazza, more than for the other villages of the Cinque Terre, using the car is strongly discouraged. Both coming from Monterosso and Corniglia, the road is very narrow and winding, and the only parking lots are located outside the village, about one and a half kilometers away. The most convenient way is by train, along the railway that connects La Spezia to Levanto, with numerous frequencies, especially in summer. Or the ferry, with departures from Spezia, Lerici, Portovenere, Monterosso, Manarola and Riomaggiore