On the far side (behind the recommended Ristorante Pizzeria Vulnetia), peek into the tiny street with its commotion of arches. Vernazza’s most characteristic side streets, called carugi, lead up from here. The trail (above the church, toward Monterosso) leads to a classic view of Vernazza.
Located in front of the harborside church, the tiny piazza—decorated with a river rock mosaic—is a popular hangout spot. It’s where Vernazza’s old ladies soak up the last bit of sun, and kids enjoy a patch of level ball field.
Vernazza’s harborfront church is unusual for its strange entryway, which faces east (altar side). With relative peace and -prosperity in the 16th century, the townspeople doubled the church in size, causing it to overtake a little piazza that once faced the west facade. From the square, use the “new” entry and climb the steps, keeping an eye out for the level necessary to keep the church high and dry. Inside, the lighter pillars in the back mark the 16th-century extension. Three historic portable crosses hanging on the walls are carried through town during Easter processions. They are replicas of crosses that Vernazza ships once carried on crusades to the Holy Land.
Finish your town tour seated out on the breakwater.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, WA 98020.
© 2010 Rick Steves