Corniglia is unique among these five villages because it's up on the cliff. It has no direct access to the water, so this is a hilltop village, perhaps the oldest of all of them. And yes, there are going to be more stairs. It's a hilltop, so what do you expect?
Just a little bit of climbing, up 33 flights of stairs, totaling 382 steps. When done with your visit you walk back down, or you could hike for 90 minutes on the 3 kilometer hillside trail to Vernazza. Either way this little speck of a town is worth seeing because it is the smallest and most isolated, and perhaps the oldest.
Earlier in their history all the villages were up on the hillside and not directly connected to the water for defensive reasons. That way they were better protected from the seafaring pirate raids. Corniglia, being so old, is just oozing with historic charm. The main street is of course quite narrow, and it seems like there are more locals than tourists out and about.
Not very crowded in the little, tiny main square of Corniglia -- it's about 10 meters across in one direction, 20 meters across in the other, but big enough to hold some tables and host some picnic lunches for the intrepid hikers. Cornelia like the other villages is surrounded by the vineyards where they grow the grapes for the local wine, a white wine.
From this lofty perch you can see down the coast to the next town, Manarola. Once again, you could hike to it along a nice trail, or take a short walk back to the Corniglia train station. From Cornelia to Manarola only takes about seven minutes once you're rolling. These train tracks also have some freight trains rolling through that don't stop, as well as some intercity trains that are more of an express route and they don't stop either -- they are just passing on through. So you just wait for your local train when you're in transit from one village to the next.