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 work 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
Look through the tabs below or click on these links to learn more about the project, the itinerary, the price and safety or to read trip reviews and prior trip reports.
The main project focus in the villages of the Cinque Terre region of Italy will be to restore or rebuild the ancient dry stone walls that are iconic in this area and which illustrate the heritage of humanity, traditional land uses, and landscape design. These terraces, some of which have been dated back to 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 work 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 stonewall terraces preventing erosion loss.
Volunteer work 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 work 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 worksite, 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: We are still finalizing some of the details, but the description below outlines the activities you can expect on the trip. Please note, however, that because local conditions and the work area 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 at our hotel in mid-afternoon for an orientation meeting at the hotel, then, if timing permits, take a pleasant walk from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to the Battistero of S. 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 board our transportation and upon arrival in Riomaggiore, we will first meet with Heydi, our work host, to discuss the projects and expectations, along with safety requirements. After checking into our hotel, we will take a short walk up to Posso Winery where we will meet our project host and have a briefing on the project and then go to dinner.
Day 3: Volunteer Work Project in the Cinque Terre Region. After breakfast, we take the short walk to Posso winery to begin our work projects. During work hours, 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 Work Project in the Cinque Terre Region and Cooking Demonstration. After breakfast, we walk to the Posso winery and spend the morning working on the vineyard projects, or dry stone wall terraces. After a few hours of working, we will meet Luca who will teach us how to cook an authentic basil pesto and make fresh pasta. After this lovely lunch, we return to work. Late in the afternoon, we will return to our hotel and relax before having a nice dinner.
Day 5: Volunteer Work Project in the Cinque Terre Region and Hiking to Madonna di Montenero. This morning, after breakfast, we will hike along a stunning trail that goes up to the monastery of Madonna di Montenero. This short and steep trail runs uphill at an impressive angle for 45 minutes starting at Riomaggiore. We will pass by ancient vineyards and olive trees. The Madonna di Montenero monestary’s vantage point is about 1,000 feet above sea level. From it, your eye sweeps 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. Walking back to the Possa winery we will return to work after a tasty picnic lunch. Late in the afternoon, we will return to our hotel and rest before dinner.
Day 6: Rest Day. Optional hiking in the Cinque Terre National Park: (8,5 km, 4 hours hike). Today we will rest from the labors of our work projects. Volunteers will have the option of resting at the hotel and exploring Riomaggiore and the other Cinque Terre villages by train on their own or hiking with our local guide in the heart of Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre Trail is located in the Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terre and passes through several beautiful villages. Hiking along, we will focus on the cultural and natural resources that our guide shows us. We depart from Riomaggoria and will follow the stunning “Lover’s Lane” path to Manarola along the coast. After a short visit in Manarola, we will then proceed along the “Blue Trail” passing by the small village of Corniglia, ending in Vernazza. We will have time in Corniglia to look around and eat a crunchy “focaccia” before taking a train back to Riomaggiore. Rest time and then dinner.
Day 7: Volunteer Work Project in the Cinque Terre Region. Today is our last day working with Heydi at the Posso winery. We will continue with our work on the dry stone walls and the vineyards in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch and then work until late afternoon. After work, we return to our hotel and have free time before dinner. We take time to thank Heydi for hosting our work projects with ConservationVIP and sharing with us the heritage of the terraces and vineyards of historic Cinque Terre.
Day 8: Transfer to Florence. After breakfast, and possibly a bit more volunteer work, 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 wander the small alleys of the village on the way to 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 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.)
- 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
- group tools
- all orientation and training excursions as noted on the itinerary
- park entrance fees
Price does not include:
- International airfare to/from Italy
- breakfast or lunch on Day 1
- medical immunizations
- insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory)
- excess baggage charges
- airport taxes
- alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
- gratuities or personal items
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
Submit your review
ConservationVIP’s Cinque Terre adventure was magical and exceeded my expectations! It’s Italy, it’s fabulous and ConservationVIP provides a tremendous opportunity to live and contribute like a local. Alluring, rewarding, inspiring, challenging, and fun describe the adventure that awaits in Cinque Terre. CVIP curated a memorable experience at Azienda Agricola Possa. The farm and winery are located within the Cinque Terre National Heritage Designation and belong to Samuele Heydi Bonanini. Heydi produces wine with an organic focus and his family’s involvement in the wine industry dates to the 1300s. The CVIP crew cleared invasive plants from historic and culturally significant terraces and vineyards. Additional work involved sorting and placing stones in dry stonewalls that retain cultivable plots and walking trails. All projects were on narrow, steep terraces of grapevines, citrus trees, rosemary and other plants with stunning views of the Ligurian Sea. The volunteers used hoes, 2-prong garden picks and garden clippers--no experience or skill needed--to remove plants damaging the terrace soil and stonewalls. The workdays were full and effective; it was satisfying to see the difference made daily by the CVIP crew. Kudos to trip leaders Carol and Mark, and guide Giorgia! They structured the days to maximize the group’s work efforts plus arranged cultural opportunities to enhance the experience. Safety was always a priority. Our base in Riomaggiore felt like home. On our free day, the group hiked the Cinque Terre trail and explored the other four villages (Note: my phone recorded 23K steps and 105 stories climbed that day!) Of course, the food and wines were exceptional as were the volunteers and locals. Highlights include learning to make Genoa-style pesto, tasting Possa’s boutique wines, exploring the ancient walled city of Lucca and building friendships with the CVIP volunteers. Time in Florence bookended the trip. What to know if considering this trip: • Sign up ASAP because it will fill fast. • You will contribute to sustaining the agricultural heritage of a beautiful region. • It is physical work, but you contribute at your own pace. Stretch, stay hydrated and listen to your body. Bring kneepads. • Know you will navigate narrow terrace pathways high above the sea with limited railings. Balance is key. So is confidence. • The forecast for the Oct. 2022 trip was rain/60F; the workdays were sunny, steamy & in the high 70s. Pack for both extremes. • ConservationVIP handles all arrangements once the group convenes in Florence; accommodations and meals are included. Lodging was clean, comfortable, and conveniently located. Meals were satisfying and featured local specialties. Transportation was comfortable and timely. You'll be wowed by the hospitality provided and genuine affection for the volunteers. • Come with a curious mind and dedication to making a difference. • Be flexible, maintain a sense of humor and prepare for a magical experience.
By Susan F for Cinque Terre, Italy October 2022 Volunteer Trip on 19 Oct, 2022
Cinque Terre is an incredible place. It's easy to see why it is a World Heritage Cultural Site. Working in an 800 year old vineyard where a few of the vines were 200 years old is special. The trip leaders and local guide were great and took care of all of the details so we could concentrate on enjoying the trip. And the food was fantastic! I have been on other ConservationVIP trips and each one is special but for completely different reasons. Torres Del Paine (Patagonia) is all about Nature and the fantastic scenery. Cinque Terre is a mix of the incredible coastline and the cultural history of the area. So each trip is a different experience (and you should try them all).
I’m not sure what I can add that fellow participants haven't already addressed! Cinque Terre is so incredibly beautiful and Riomaggiore is so quaint and quiet it felt like home before we left. This experience is such an amazing opportunity to help protect this UNESCO property while at the same time experience such a beautiful area of Italy. I am definitely wearing home several extra pounds of amazing food and wine! 😁
This was my first ConservationVIP trip and I can confidently say that it will not be my last! From the orientation meeting where everyone was so welcoming, to the final day when we shared hugs and left as friends, the volunteers and guides worked, played and laughed like one big family. The work did not feel like work with the teamwork and the breathtaking views from the vineyard terraces to the sea. Heydi, our vineyard host, shared his knowledge and history of the local viniculture, our local guide Giorgia was incredibly patient and helpful, not to mention the excellent dining options she arranged for us each night, and our CVIP leaders Carol and Mark did an expert balancing act of managing the work and travel logistics, keeping us mindful of safety in this rugged terrain, and sprinkling in additional activities such as hiking, pesto making, and wine tasting. We broke up the drive between Florence and Riomaggiore with a walking tour of Lucca on the way out and walking tour of Portovenere on the way back. And staying in Riomaggiore for the week helped us get to know and enjoy the town like locals. An all-around wonderful and humbling experience.
CVIP does a masterful job of blending travel and volunteerism so that individuals like us can experience the beauty of our world heritage sites and give back to the communities that live there and maintain them. I am already thinking about where and when I will go next!
This trip is Amazing in every way! Starting in the trip in Florence allowed me to add a couple of days to explore that magnificent city. Once the trip began it was one beautiful experience after the other. Each nights dinner was a epicurean delight and allowed the tasting of a range of Italian food. To be able to spend time in Cinque Terre (based in one town) allowed me to feel like a local. Working in the vineyard was enjoyable and literally I was constantly looking up to take in the views. The local guide for the week was beyond amazing and gave such insight into the history, culture, etc. of the region. What a learning experience! It is such a wonderful feeling knowing you are giving back and making a difference. Cannot recommend this trip enough. Conservation VIP's guides Carol/Mark went out of their way to assure everyone was safe, have a wonderful time and enjoying every minute.
This was a wonderful trip! What a beautiful part of Italy. As a volunteer trip, it had a good mix of work and fun. Volunteering is a great way to travel because you are just not taking what the region has to offer but you are leaving something beneficial behind. Our Italian guide was the best! She was very pleasant and extremely helpful throughout the trip despite our constant bombardment of questions. Her pick of restaurants was a culinary delight. To fully enjoy the trip I would recommend some prior conditioning as you don't want to miss out on the complete hike to village cinque. Also, due to the rather steep nature of vineyard terraces, you should be confident in your footwork. Highly recommended!
Cinque Terre has always been on my Travel Bucket List, and when I saw that I could add Volunteerism to my visit, I jumped at the chance. What a great trip! It was humbling to work on the terraces that have prevailed for hundreds of years. We had plenty of time to sample the local pasta & pesto & gelato. Our ConservationVIP leaders led us with gusto, supplemented by a young Italian guide who answered every quirky question with patience. It was fun to interact with the other group members, who were all well-traveled and eager to experience new things. I thank CVIP for continuing to develop new adventures!
ConservationVIP’s Cinque Terre adventure was magical and exceeded my expectations! It’s Italy, it’s fabulous and CVIP provides a tremendous opportunity to live and contribute like a local. We volunteers cleared invasive plants from historic and culturally significant terraces and vineyards. Additional work involved sorting and placing stones in dry stonewalls that retain cultivable plots and walking trails. All projects were on narrow, steep terraces of grapevines, citrus trees, rosemary and other plants with stunning views of the Ligurian Sea. The project work, cuisine, wine, hiking, culture and overall experience exceeds 5 stars. Leaders Carol and Mark and guide Giorgia transformed our crew from a group of travelers into a team of friends. Perfection from start to finish.
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.
ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID-19 safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!
Because of continuing COVID concerns, we are restricting participation on this trip to people who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. 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. Here is a link to the COVID information page on Italy Embassy Entry & COVID-19 Information
While on the trip, participants will also have to follow procedures such as mask-wearing and social distancing. More specific COVID-related safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.