Corniglia is the smallest and quietest of the Cinque Terre villages. It is located 100 meters above sea level, on top of a small promontory. Houses are a bit different here, smaller and wider, similar to the houses of the villages inland.
I love the tiny Largo Taragio square in front of the oratory, it is very pleasant to relax at Bar Matteo in the shade of the trees and sunshades. Try the bruschetta (toast with chopped tomatoes mixed with garlic and basil) and the lemonade made from freshly picked lemons. Another nice little bar is "Pan e Vin" on Via Fieschi, run by a very friendly couple, Cristiana and Stefano. Stop by for coffee, a glass of wine or a sandwich. For delicious local produce in a relaxing atmosphere go to Km 0, just a few steps from Largo Taragio. If you are looking for something sweet, try the icecream at the Gelateria of Alberto. Best icecream in the Cinque Terre! If you are staying in Corniglia in an apartment with balcony, you can also buy nice local food in the little shops and have breakfast or dinner on your balcony while enjoying the seaview. There are more shops in Corniglia, my favourite is the "Alimentari Lisa" on the big square, right near the bus stop. Lisa is a very nice and friendly lady, and her prices are the best in Corniglia, so get your pesto, cheese and bottle of wine there.
The history of the village goes back to Roman times. According to the legend, Corniglia was founded by a wine producer, who named the village after his mother, Cornelia.
Corniglia doesn't have a harbour, so boats don't stop here. You can reach the village by car, train or foot. The railway station of Corniglia lies at sea level, there are different ways to get up to the center of the village. The most exciting version is climbing the Lardarina stairway with 382 steps. Once you get to the top, you will surely need that refreshing lemonade! You can also walk up to the center along the winding paved road, I think it is easier. Walking from the station towards Corniglia, you will see a sign: stairs to the left, road to the right. Of course, there is also an easy option: the local electronic buses regularly run between the station and the center. However, the last bus leaves around 7.30PM so in the evening you surely have to walk.
After catching your breath at the top of the steps, start walking to the left and you will get to a square. From here, just follow the "Centro" sign to the left into the small street (Via Fieschi) and you will find yourself on the main square of Corniglia (Largo Taragio). You can find a small fountain on the wall under the oratory; make sure you refill your bottles here. Kids play soccer behind the oratory, the gate is painted on the back of the building. This is the cutest soccer field I've ever seen, with az amazing view of the sea and Manarola. Continue walking down Via Fieschi to the panorama terrace from where you can admire the entire Cinque Terre coast. A new bar opened on this terrace, Bar Terza Terra, so you can enjoy an aperitivo while watching the sunset.
It's worth walking up to the cemetery as well, as it is quite different than in other countries, with a breathtaking panorama. The small bench hidden behind the cemetery is probably the quietest spot of the village, perfect for some romantic moments.
Because of its location many believe that Corniglia does not have a beach. Well, they are wrong, there are actually 3 beaches around here. I prefer the hidden little bay behind and below the village. You can reach it following the Marina sign. No surprise, more steps are coming! This marina is never too crowded, the water is beautiful and clean, but it is also deep, so for good swimmers only.
The 14th-century church is one of the most interesting monuments of the Ligurian Gothic style. The rose window on the facade is made of white Carrara marble and it has Corniglia's ancient symbol, a deer, in the middle. Make sure you walk inside as well, you will see a 12th-century christening font and a polyptych.
The 18th-century monument stands above the Largo Taragio square. You can enjoy a beautiful view from behind the oratory.