Cinque Terre meaning “the five lands” is a string of five villages (Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, and Monterosso al Mare) situated on the Costa Ligure of Levante. The seaside villages on the rugged Riveria coastline have become a favorite offbeat attraction among the tourists recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often compared with the Capri Islands and Amalfi Coast of Italy. People generally choose to visit Cinque Terre for its exceptional scenic beauty, and mostly for its closeness to nature. With vibrant streets and colorful houses, beautiful rocky beaches, and amazing views, Cinque Terre is an ideal destination to feel the nature intimately and refresh your minds.
Monterosso al Mare
Beginning from the north, Monterosso al mare is the biggest and the oldest of five villages in Cinque Terre that is commune to the province of LaSpezia. Not only is this vibrant town is a paradise for the lovers of sea, but also has so many impressive attractions to explore. The ViaFegina Beach being the biggest one of the region is a favorite attraction of the tourists, once you be here don’t forget to spot the gigantic statue of Neptune (the sea god) carrying a gigantic shell which was majorly damaged during the WWII. The other interesting sites include the Church of San Lorenzo, the Manarola Harbour, the impressive Parco Nazionale, the shrines and famous wooden statues of Santuario di Nostra and Signora di Soviore, and lastly the elegant building of Church of San Giovani Battista.
Vernazza often called the “pearl of Cinque Terre” is regarded as the most beautiful among the five villages. Vernazza embraces its small marina by the roads that stretch offshore and the eye-catching pastel-colored houses making it more impressive. One must note that Vernazza is not as big as Montoresso and has a very small number of houses and inhabitants. Vernazza is also the only town in the region that has a natural harbor, along with mesmerizing views from the top. The major attractions of the town include the Church of Fratti, the Reformed Friars Minor of St. Francis, and the beautiful shrine of Reggio.
Corniglia is the smallest of five towns in Cinque Terre as the population is about 150 and can be covered from Vernazza by a walking distance. The small town sits on a panoramic cliff top and hence is not directly adjacent to the sea. The walk from Vernazza to Corniglia is enticing as the journey would make you fall in love with this place more. Well, this little place has quite a few things to explore- the Church of St. Peter’s, Saint Mary’s Terrace, the popular Guavo Beach, and the beach near the railway station of Corniglia-Spiaggione Beach.
Another picturesque town of Cinque Terre, Manarola is the second smallest village of the region with equally beautiful views of the sea. The village is situated 70 meters above the sea level and is also popular for its SiacchetraWine. Also visit the famous relic architectures of SanLorenzoChurch, ManarolaCemetry, andManarola’sHarbour.
The last village of Cinque Terre (if visited from North), Riomaggiore is all about pastel-colored houses, the sound of strong waves striking the cliffs, picturesque views, wines, and the beach. Wander around the beautiful streets and visit the old castle- Castellodi Riomaggiore.
Porto Venere – the sixth town
A medieval fishing town situated at the South, Porto Venere is believed to be the hidden gem that is overshadowed by Cinque Terre. Being a neighbour to the five villages, Porto Venere is often called the “sixth town” and has equally attractive scenery. Some of the tourists choose to stay in Porto Venere and cover the five villages as day tours which is also a smart choice, however, it is impossible to reach here by trains so the ferry is the only choice. Explore the old town and visit Portadel Borgo, the Capitolare Tower dating back to the 12thcentury. Also, the Doria castle situated on the clifftop overlooking the Bay of Poets, the nearby Church of San Lorenzo and the Church of Saint Peter with an exceptional interior. The other attractions include Lord Byron’s Grotto named after the renowned English Poet- a place for swimming and diving, and the Porto Venere Regional National Park.
The Beaches of Cinque Terre
The Beaches of Cinque Terre are stunning and the best one is in Monterossoalmare. With crowds of happy faces enjoying the sunbath, crystal clear sea and its turquoise waves, delicious seafood in the nearby restaurants along with sweetest wines of the region, all these comprise to make Cinque Terre an ideal destination for Summer holidays.
For people who love hiking, Cinque Terre has abundant availability of hiking trails joining one village with the other. The walk from the Blue Path– the trail that connects all the five villages is tiring but surely is worth as the view around it is magical. Take the help of local guides to discover hiking opportunities and admire the view that you would never forget from the top.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre?
It is best and convenient to stay in a single village of Cinque Terre and visit others as day trips. The largest number of hotels are in Montoressoalmare, as it is the biggest area of the region however, one must not expect luxury here as the hotels are as simple as the place itself. Some tourists also choose to stay in Riomaggiore when they are beginning the journey from the South, whereas others cover the five villages by staying in LaSpezia (10 mins away by train) or Porto Venere (also known as the sixth town as it is often covered with Cinque Terre).