Italy has over 4,700 miles of coastline, several romantic towns and many pittoresque villages, but you will never find a land as colorful and peaceful as Cinque Terre.

Its name, which means “five lands” in Italian, refers to a whole area, not just one place. It consists of five small villages which cling to the Ligurian cliffs along Italy’s western coast. Once, they were isolated fishing villages, now they are well-equipped touristic areas which didn’t lose their authenticity and simplicity.

The Cinque Terre is also a national park, a protected waterway and a Unesco World Heritage site.

HOW TO GET THERE – If this area mantained the quietness of the past, it is probably because of the restricted accessibility for all the vehicles. Cars are not allowed in the tiny town centers of the Cinque Terre and the only parking lots are often extremely expensive and far away. So if you are travelling with a car, the best thing to do is leaving it in nearby cities, like La Spezia. From there, you can use trains, which are anyway the easiest way to reach the villages.
Arriving by the sea is also possible: ferries run from Genoa, Portofino and Porto Venere.

THE 5 VILLAGES, FROM NORTH TO SOUTH – Which village should you stay in?
They are all beautiful and unique, each of them has something magical and don’t forget that it takes between three and twenty-five minutes by train to travel between them.

  • Monterosso is the largest of the five, as well as the most visited by young tourists. Its sandy beaches are what makes it so special – beaches of other villages either require a hire or are very small and rocky.
  • Vernazza has the most interesting architectonic elements: its central square, which is built on the water, with a lovely church on one side, is the most photographed site in the whole area!
  • Corniglia is the only town which is not immediately built on the water, but it’s still worth a visit, especially if you want to admire all five villages at once: it is possible to do so from a broad terrace, at Belvedere di Santa Maria. Before arriving, make sure you don’t have heavy luggage though, the walking trail to the center of the town has 365 steps!
  • Manarola is a one-street town, sorrounded by nature and a bit more rustic. It is connected to the southern village of Riomaggiore by the part of the path which is broadly known as Via dell’Amore, the road of love.
  • Riomaggiore is not only the closest town to the main city of La Spezia, but it also offers the most romantic sights – perfect if you’re travelling with your partner!

WHAT TO DO (AND EAT) IN THE CINQUE TERRE – You really have a lot of options: you can choose between a swim in the gorgeous and crystal clear waters or a trek in the hills; a dive or a boat trip is also a good idea. If you are more into art and religion, why not going to a pilgrimage to a shrine or a walk in the alleys? And when you are done, get ready to taste delicious food (seafood, in particular) and unique drinks: the Cinque Terre are especially famous for their delightful sweet white wine called Sciacchetrà.

 

Giovanni Nuccio 

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