Path n. 537 is one of the few remaining in the Cinque Terre National Park which allows you to descend the steep slope arriving directly to the sea.
The access to the path is located in Campi, on the SP 370 Cinque Terre coast road, on the heights of Riomaggiore, next to the bar “Il Giardino” at 291 meters above sea level, where there is a small parking area. You descend with a staircase to the wide plateau of Campi planted with olive trees, where a rural peasant nucleus once stood, now recovered and used as a tourist residence.
Once you cross the plain among olive groves, vineyards and rustic blocks, the path gradually increases the slope, overlooking the sea of the Costa della Pineda. Here on the landing of the stairway are still clearly visible the sturdy anchor chains of a cableway used to lower the barrels of the legendary Cinque Terre wine to the sea, then loaded onto the Latin sailing boats.
In this area precious grapes were obtained thanks to the ideal exposure to sunlight and for the altitude of only 164 meters above sea level, as evidenced by the presence of a cluster of farmhouses called “Cellars”, where under the rubble of some roofs lie staves and circles of huge barrels.
Below the “Cellars” the path descends through the ancient terraced bands now abandoned but still supported by the splendid dry-stone walls, erected by ingenious hands, until it reaches the cliff near a dilapidated hut overlooking the splendid “pools” of Pineda.
Here the marine erosion of sandstone rocks over the centuries seems to have followed geometric rules, generating beautiful rectangular shaped reservoirs similar to swimming pools. These natural pools were used until 1950 as salt pans, as the evaporation of sea water kept inside them substantial deposits of salt, a precious material in wartime for family needs and as a bargaining chip. When the sun was not enough, to accelerate evaporation, the peasants lit large fires under rudimentary metal containers filled with sea water.
Today the “pools” are instead an ideal place for a well-deserved and refreshing swim, to prepare for the steep ascent.
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