A Volunteer Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy – a land rich in cultural diversity and exquisite landscapes.

Experience the historic, colorful villages of the iconic Mediterranean hillsides and jagged coastlines of Cinque Terre, Italy. Substantially located within the UNESCO World Heritage designation boundaries of Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, the area embodies the connectivity between people and nature within an exceptional scenic landscape. Our Italian guide will lead us through the iconic village where we will volunteer and lodge. Gain an appreciation for the environment, history, and local cuisine while helping to preserve this historic cultural and environmental marvel. UNESCO recently added dry stone walls in Italy and much of the Mediterranean to its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Cinque Terre Volunteer Trip Details

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Our volunteer project is located in the Cinque Terre region of Italy, where we will restore or rebuild the ancient dry stone walls which are iconic in this area and which illustrate the heritage of humanity, traditional land uses, and landscape design. These terraces, some of which date back to the year 1000, do not contain imported stones and are maintained by hand. When these stone walls fail it can cause erosion, landslides, loss of plants and animals, and human livelihoods.

After taking a short uphill walk from our hotel in Riomaggiore, we approach the terraces perched above the Ligurian sea to our volunteer project site at Azienda Agricola Possa. The farm and winery are located within the Cinque Terre National Heritage Designation and belong to Samuele Heydi Bonanini (Heydi, as he prefers).  Heydi has brought back the production of ancient wine and maintains the ancient dry stone wall terraces preventing erosion loss.

Volunteer projects may alternate between rebuilding the ancient dry stone walls and vineyard terraces that are iconic to the region and working on soil recovery projects such as preparing fallowed agricultural land for future plantings necessary to stabilize the terraces, perhaps planting historical plant varieties of traditional Cinque Terre vines. The projects will be labor-intensive, and we will take breaks throughout the day.

Because local conditions and needs continually evolve, please remember that detailed project plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. Volunteer Trips offer the opportunity to experience the land in a unique way not available to the average tourist.

No prior experience is required; project training is provided. The work includes a variety of tasks that we will rotate around. There are two community elevators located in Riomaggiore that lead to two upper streets; no elevators at this worksite or in the hotels! You should be able to hike/walk up steep hills and streets with a day pack, climb uneven steps in the village and at the project site, walk and work on narrow and flat hillside trails and terraces, move soil or rock with a shovel or pick, pull unwanted vegetation, carry stones weighing approximately 10-20 lbs. As always, your safety is our priority.

Introduction: The description below outlines the activities you can expect on the trip. Please note, however, that because local conditions and the project needs continually evolve, detailed plans may be finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. As volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or areas can be targeted on subsequent departures, which may result in a modified itinerary.

Just prior to each trip, volunteers will be given updated information that includes details about where their specific group will be based, and an outline of the activities which are planned. Although we do our very best to adhere to that schedule, the itinerary is also subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather. A detailed discussion of specific daily activities will take place on the trip.

Day 1: Introductions, Orientation, and walk in Florence. We begin in Florence, Italy, known for its artistic and architectural heritage. We will meet in mid-afternoon for an orientation meeting at our hotel. Then, if timing permits, we take a pleasant walk from the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore to the Battistero di San Giovanni and the Palazzo della Signoria. Immediately following, we will have dinner together.

Day 2: Florence to Lucca to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre. After breakfast, the group will embark on a private transfer to Riomaggiore, stopping in Lucca for a view of the historical city where we will have lunch. After lunch, we continue our journey to Riomaggiore., the base for our volunteer project. After checking into our hotel, we will meet to discuss the projects, expectations, and safety requirements.  We will take a short walk around Riomaggiore and then go to dinner.

Day 3: Volunteer Projects in the Cinque Terre Region. After breakfast, we will walk up the short but steep paved road to our volunteer project site, Azienda Agricola Possa, where we will meet Haydi, our local partner and owner of Possa, and then begin our volunteer projects.  Mid-day, we will break for a lovely picnic lunch overseeing the terraces, vineyards, and sea. At the end of the day, we will walk back to the hotel and have free time before dinner.

Day 4: Volunteer Projects in the Cinque Terre Region and Cooking Demonstration.  After breakfast, we walk to the Possa winery and spend the morning volunteering on the vineyard or dry stone wall terraces. After a few hours, we will walk back towards the hotel where we will meet a local chef, Luca, at his house and enjoy a fun cooking class to learn how to make a real basil pesto and fresh pasta which will be the group’s lunch meal. After this lovely lunch, we return to the project site. Late in the afternoon we will return to our hotel and relax before having a nice dinner.

Day 5: Volunteer Projects in the Cinque Terre Region and Optional Hike to Monastery of Madonna di Montenero. After breakfast, we walk to the Possa project site and spend the day working on the vineyard or dry stone wall terrace projects. Late in the afternoon, trip participants can return to the hotel and rest before dinner or take an optional hike along a stunning trail that goes up to the monastery of Madonna di Montenero about 1,000 feet above sea level.  This short and steep trail runs uphill at an impressive angle, passing by ancient vineyards and olive trees.  From the vantage point of the Madonna di Montenero monastery, your eyes sweep over the jagged Mediterranean coastline.  From one end to the other, Liguria is sprinkled with lavish villas, stone-built villages, and the proverbial castles in the air seemingly lifted from fairy tales.

Day 6: Rest Day. Optional hiking in the Cinque Terre National Park: Today you will have a rest day. You can rest and enjoy Riomaggiore or visit other local villages by train on your own. Or you can join an optional group hike led by our local guide in Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terre, on the Cinque Terre Trail which passes through several beautiful villages. Hiking along, we will focus on the cultural and natural resources that our guide shows us, before taking a train back to Riomaggiore for rest time before dinner.

Day 7: Volunteer Projects in the Cinque Terre Region. Today is our last day volunteering at the Possa winery. We will continue the dry stone walls and the vineyards projects in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch and then volunteer until late afternoon. After we return to our hotel, we have time to rest before dinner.

Day 8: Transfer to Florence.  After breakfast, we board our private transportation and drive back to Florence. Along the way, we stop in Porto Venere, a surprising village with a thousand pastel colors and the castle Doria where we will have lunch. After lunch, we board our transportation and continue into Florence to check into our hotel. We enjoy a last walk around the city and celebrate at our farewell dinner.

Day 9: Arrivederci to our traveling companions as our trip ends after breakfast. Volunteers are responsible for providing their own transportation to their mode of return travel. Volunteers may choose to fly home from Florence, or they may travel by plane or train to other cities within Italy for extended stays.


$3,860 in 2023, $3,965 in 2024, for nine days: single supplement $600 (subject to availability)

(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax advisor for details.)

Price includes:

  • Leadership and support staff for volunteer activities
  • local guides
  • all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 9
  • hotel accommodations
  • all bus and train transportation as noted on the itinerary
  • project tools
  • all orientation and training excursions as noted on the itinerary
  • park entrance fees

Price does not include:

Deposit and Cancellation
A deposit of $500 per person is required at the time of signup; final payment is due at 90 days prior to departure. The payment and refund policy can be found here. Please print or download a copy of this document for referral.

Group Size: 8 – 11 plus trip leaders

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Average rating:  
 18 reviews
 by Claire C
Cinque Terre trip review

I've never been to the west coast of Italy before, but what a wonderful surprise to be part of the second trip to Cinque Terre with CVIP. Carol and Mark and Furio, our Italian guide, put together a terrific trip that was interesting work in a stunning setting. Every part of the trip was a delight: the new and veteran volunteers, the food, the hikes, work days at Heydi's winery. Not sure a working trip can get any better than this one.
Like the two other trips with CVIP I've been on, the most special part for me is the feeling that we were a useful part of the Riomaggiore community, if only for awhile. Truly, Travel with a Purpose.

 by Seetha Viswanathan

Not even sure where to begin - the whole experience was magical. The location, the people, the volunteers, our trip leaders, and the work itself is beyond comparison. I did not even in my wildest dreams imagine that I would be walking on land and working in vineyards that are over 800 years old and doing my little part in preserving them for future generations. What better way to experience a World Heritage bucket list site than to just show up there, not have to worry about any logistics but just be willing to work and leave the place a tiny bit better off than when you arrived there. Each and every one of my trips with CVIP take me through such a gamut of emotions that it is so difficult to explain the true feelings I get when I am on a CVIP volunteer trip. Cinque Terre did not disappoint at all. As always I met new people and reconnected with friends I made from my other CVIP trips. Thank you to CVIP and our trip leaders Carol and Mark for taking such good care of us. Heydi, on whose centuries old vineyards we worked in, was a great host. Working on the terraces overlooking the Ligurian sea was taxing at times but a treat for the eye and the soul. Furio the local guide who was with us the whole time was a treasure trove of knowledge about the local terrain and history. I enjoyed the special time I got to enjoy with him and another volunteer on our amazing hike from Corniglia to Volastra to Riomaggiore on our day off. The accommodations, the food, the transportation and the sites we visited (Lucca and Porto Venere) were all fantastic. The centuries old historic villages were so picturesque that it felt like we were in a postcard. Some pre-trip training going up and down stairs is highly recommended as you will have the pleasure of doing just that the whole time you are in Cinque Terre. The village of Riomaggiore does have an elevator but it might not be working plus our built in transportation, our legs, is the best way to enjoy the nooks and crannies of the village. I whole-heartedly recommend this and all the other trips that CVIP organizes. As I always tell everyone who is willing to listen to me - all you need is a spirit of adventure, flexibility, willingness to work hard and keep an open mind.

 by ralph isaacs
Cinque Terre Spring 23

The trip involves working and hiking in paradise. The views were overwhelming, flowers and grape vines everywhere. Be prepared for working in steep areas and for significant work. But since you can count on your fellow volunteers and the workers at the vineyard you will not be disappointed.

 by Alison Watt
Cinque Terre - May 2023

This was my first trip with Conservation VIP, and I booked my second trip before I returned home from this trip. Riomaggiore was more beautiful than I imagined, and the air was scented with lemon blossoms. I enjoyed the work in the Possa vineyard and the stunning location. All of the participants were friendly and we enjoyed our time together. I especially enjoyed our group meals and the wonderful side trips to Lucca and Portovenere. The trip leaders went above and beyond to make sure everything ran smoothly. Our local guide was fun and engaging and always up for adventure. Be sure to book a single room if you are a light sleeper. Be sure to build up your hiking strength so you can enjoy the hiking opportunities.

 by Lidia
Cinque Terre, May 2023

Thumbs up for Carol and Mark. Thank you for organizing this fantastic trip in the most inspiring and beautiful "working office". The work in the ancient vineyard terraces was not difficult but it does require some physical effort. One cannot forget the dinners which were gastronomic treats. The visit to the medieval town of Lucca was very interesting, especially climbing up the tower with small garden on the top. The hikes around Riomaggiore with our friendly guide Furio were really worthwhile, and we were rewarded with amazing view. This is one of the best trips I've been on with Conservation VIP.

 by Liz Anaya
Amazing Trip! Highly Recommended!

The Cinque Terre CVIP trip was a wonderful experience. The Ligurian Sea, the picturesque sea-side fishing villages, the vineyards, the people, the amazing food and hiking made for a top-notch experience. This region is also known for their white wines and they did not disappoint. The volunteer work was hard but manageable. Definitely worth it. The weather was mostly cool and rainy, interspersed with daily periods of sunshine, which highlighted the ruggedness and beauty of the Italian Riviera coastline. I feel lucky to have been immersed for 1 week in such a beautiful area with a great group of volunteers, leaders and guides. I highly recommend this trip!

 by Tom Rierson
Cinque Terre, Italy May 2023

Amazing trip. Working in a 400 year old vineyard was very interesting. The Cinque Terre is beautiful. And the food is incredible!

 by Pam Peters
Cinque Terre, Italy May 2023

What a fantastic trip! Working to repair the heritage vineyard terrace wall, overcome by a landslide, was aggressive but very manageable and extremely worthwhile. All surrounded by views to the horizon of the Cinque Terre and the Ligurian Sea. Warm Italian sun during the work day and delicious pasta and seafood dinners. Another great ConservationVIP trip!

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The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation, and weather protection. The gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. View the Gear List PDF.

Please click to view Trip Report PDFs.

May 2023
October 2022

Please check with your doctor to see if any immunizations are recommended for you.

ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!

While on the trip, participants may have to follow procedures such as mask-wearing and social distancing as instructed by the trip leader. More specific safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.

Participants will also have to comply with any restrictions imposed by Italy and their country of origin at the time of travel. While we know that the restrictions may change between now and the time of travel, we cannot predict what those changes will be.

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