Rugged cliffs, colourful villages and plenty of that Italian charm… Join me on a little journey along Italy’s most beautiful stretch of coast!
Cinque Terre – from the Italian for “Five Lands”- is one of the most gorgeous parts of the Italian Riviera, stretching roughly twelve kilometres. But despite being so short, it more than makes up for it with its natural beauty and bucket-loads of character!
As the name would suggest, Cinque Terre is made up of five pretty and colourful villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, all located along the steep, rugged coast in the Lugaria region. Luguria has only around 7,000 inhabitants and enjoys protection as a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a result, these colourful, historic villages have remained virtually unchanged, and it’s one of the best places to go if you’re looking to soak up that old-school Italian charm.
Cinque Terre will serve as the perfect bit of inspiration for Spring, so join me on a little adventure to Italy and get planning for your next Mediterranean adventure!
This fishing village, home to 1,479 inhabitants, is the largest town in Cinque Terre. Monterosso stretches across 1.5 kilometres, with the Old Town and the newer area of Fegina divided by dramatic cliffs that rise up from the sea. The rock is home to a watchtower, called the Torre Aurora or Dawn Tower, which offers spectacular views over the Ligurian Sea. You can also take a shortcut through the rock using the pedestrian tunnel, but why miss out on the panorama? One cool thing to see if you’re in the village is the Gigante, a breath-taking statue carved out of the cliff face, which used to hold up a dance terrace. If you want some fine wining and dining, then check out Ristorante Miky – there’s great service and delicious food!
Vernazza has 879 inhabitants and is the second northernmost village of the Cinque Terre. One of the best preserved surviving fishing villages on the Italian coast, Vernazza has a small peninsula which shelters a pretty harbour and the remains of a wonderful fortress. The village is seen as a symbol for the amazing beauty of Cinque Terre – Vernazza is the village that has managed to preserve its charm and views the best. The Castello Doria Fortress is definitely worth a visit, offering perfect panoramas of the village and the mountains in the distance. If you’re feeling hungry, why not go to Belforte and enjoy a delicious meal with an unforgettable view?
With only 250 inhabitants, Corniglia is the smallest of Cinque Terre villages and the only one of the five that isn’t directly on the seafront – instead it’s perched 100 metres above on the ledges of a mountain! Corniglia is located right in the middle of Cinque Terre and offers stunning views of the surrounding area and the other four settlements thanks to its perfect vantage spot. The small village is best known for its vineyards, which cling to the steep slopes all around. Even during the colder months the trees are covered in oranges and lemons, which I can imagine would be a welcome splash of colour to anyone’s winter! You can enjoy a nice break in the centre of Corniglia at Caffe Matteo.
Manarola is the oldest town of the Cinque Terre – the foundations of the San Lorenzo Church were laid down in 1160. Manarola is the second smallest village after Corniglia. The people here make their living from two main industries – wine and fishing. Manarola is known for the famous Via dell’Amore (Street of Love), leading up to Riomaggiore and linking the two villages. The path gets its name from its romantic views which showcase the region’s natural beauty and – what a surprise – there are tons of love locks hanging along the way. Sure, you might think it’s more the place for the romantics out there, but those views are no less beautiful even if you’re a single pringle! After a relaxing coastal walk, you can rest up at Trattoria Dal Billy and tuck into some mouthwatering Italian fare.
Colourful houses rise all around the picturesque harbour of Riomaggiore, clinging to the steep and rocky coast. Also surrounded by the colourful little houses is the San Giovanni Battista Church, built in 1340 and given a Gothic makeover in 1820. Inside, the church has three aisles, all separated by pointed arches. The varied lives of the village and its inhabitants mainly take place along the road which leads up the hill, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and cafés. The restaurant Enoteca Dau Cila would be my recommendation here – the great views of the sea really add that special touch!
Travelling to Cinque Terre
If you fancy travelling to Cinque Terre yourself, then your best bet is to fly to Pisa – Florence and Genoa are other alternatives but they tend to be a little more expensive.. You can check your flight options at Skyscanner. All of these airports have shuttles to take you to the train station, where you’ll be able to catch a train out to the Cinque Terre region. Most trains change at La Spezia. If you have a rental car, make sure to ring your accommodation and check what parking facilities there are, as cars aren’t allowed in the five villages. Once you’re there you can easily walk between the villages via the criss-crossing paths that traverse the coastline, or you can take a 19th century train line that connects the villages – buy a Cinque Terre card and you’ll have unlimited second class travel. Cars aren’t allowed in the Cinque Terre, which means you can explore this gorgeous piece of Italian coastline that’s untouched by modernity.
The pictures of these five cute little villages really do make an impression, but they’re nothing in comparison to seeing it with your own eyes! So next destination – the beautiful Ligurian coast and the Cinque Terre. This area should definitely be on your list of places to visit, an area that you really need to see! Have you visited the Cinque Terre? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, so let me know how you found it and especially if you have any top tips for fellow travellers!