Among the most scenic Cinque Terre paths there is the one to reach the remains of the Hermitage of S. Antonio, located between Levanto and Monterosso al Mare. Ideal for a half-day trek to the Cinque Terre, the ruins are located at the Mesco point and can be reached in about an hour and a half with the SVA 590 path that starts from Fegina to Monterosso, behind the Stutua del Gigante. The path climbs up, along the paved road, then, near the Hotel Suisse Bellevue, the trail is resumed between a luxuriant Mediterranean bush. The Hermitage of S. Antonio can also be reached from Levanto (departure near the Castle), via a path on the sea.
High steps alternate with dirt roads until you reach the junction for Levanto, where a sign indicates the path to reach the fascinating ruins of the hermitage, after crossing a wooden bridge. It is one of the oldest buildings in the area, a church with a hermitage, located 311 meters above the sea and immersed in a holm oak grove. The view is spectacular: the view can range from the promontory of Portofino, up to the entire coast of the Cinque Terre and then beyond the island of Palmaria. The first historical news of the Hermitage of S. Antonio del Mesco dates back to 1380 although it is believed that the complex is older, perhaps from the 11th century. In fact, of the two buildings, one would date back at least to the eleventh century, as confirmed by the studies carried out, while the second and definitive enlargement with worked stone would date back to the fifteenth century. The church has a Gothic face and today the Roman apse can still be seen, part of the vault and the perimeter wall, an ogival portal; instead of the convent only a few ruins remain. The convent was abandoned in 1610 when the religious moved to the new monastic complex of the Augustinians of Levanto.
The church of the Mesco anciently guarded the statue of Saint Anthony of the fifteenth century and today preserved in the Oratory of Death and Prayer in the historical center of Monterosso. The Hermitage was also to serve as a strategic observation point to monitor the arrival of the Saracens from the sea. This secondary use is also evidenced by the fact that along the path, just before arriving at the Hermitage, there are the remains of a small sighting tower. A little further on the cult building you come across, instead, in the remains of the Semaphore, the lighthouse built by the Navy in the first decades of the twentieth century.
The train, surely the best means of travel to visit the Cinque Terre and be enchanted by the beauty of the Ligurian sea. From March 16th the 5 Terre Express train is in service to travel comfortably between La Spezia Centrale, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Levanto with a single single fare ticket, taking advantage of the offer of 100 trains a day, 7 days a week, every 15 minutes