Capuchin Monastery and Cemetery

Many tourists visit the Cinque Terre to walk the steep paths between the five towns. We had no plans or inclination (pun intended) to do that, but we thought it would be good to find a path where we could climb just a little way up so we could look down on one of these towns and admire the view.

In Monterosso there is a path that appeared to be gently sloping. Lots of people were walking up there to a statue we could see at the top of a rocky outcrop, so we thought we could manage that. As it turned out, the path was a gentle slope and the climb was quite easy, especially in the cool of the morning after all the rain. We reached the statue and discovered that it was St Francis of Assisi, friend to all animals. From there we had some excellent views down the coast, where we could see Vernazza, then Consiglia and Manorola. The weather was definitely clearing now and visibility down the coast had improved out of sight from when we first arrived in Monterosso at about 9.45am.

The path from the St Francis statue continued upward, through a gate to a Capuchin Monastery. We took the path. It was also gently sloping, providing some magnificent views over the town and the surrounding hillsides, as well as down the coast to the other towns. It led eventually to a 400-year old monastery and church. The church was open so we went inside. Every church we’ve visited here in Europe has been worth a visit. They are places just oozing history.

There were more stairs going up, so we continued to climb higher. They brought us to several crypts, where the bodies of members of families had been interred together. Beyond there, we discovered long rows of burial places, all with marble headstones (often with portraits). Flowers had been placed on just about every one of them, even though some of the death dates were over a century ago. A quick check revealed that the same surnames kept recurring. In a small community like Monterosso, comprising a small number of families, this was to be expected. Quite a few families had built a crypt to house the remains of all family members.

At the very top of the hill, where the wind was quite strong, traditional graves had been dug, with crosses or headstones paying tribute to those who had passed away. The views over the town, the hills and the coast from here were just superb. We walked back down the hill to the town, on our way to catch a train to Manorola. The rain had disappeared by now and the sun was out.

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