Cinque Terre is on the west coast of Italy, bordering the Ligurian Sea – part of the Mediterranean. There are five villages along this area of coastline, all connected by walking trails. From north to south the villages are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Despite the fact that we had researched the area and saw pictures on the internet, we were still amazed at the beauty of the area.
Vernazza, the village where we stayed, and Monterosso were badly damaged in 2012, when storms caused flooding and mudslides. Most of the properties have been restored or rebuilt and tourists are again visiting the area.
One of the most popular activities in the region is hiking between the towns. My daughter and I hiked from Vernazza to Cornigia, although I would recommend hiking in the opposite direction. The trail went uphill steeply for at least 2/3 of the distance, and then went down a little the last third. It took us about 2 1/2 hours, but I am not a speedy hiker.
We were told the trails start easy in the south and get more difficult as you travel north, but we only hiked one section. It was difficult but worth it for the views of the Ligurian Sea–part of the Mediterranean–and of the villages atop the cliffs or crowded into the valleys. The weather was gorgeous all day – warm, sunny – we couldn’t ask for better weather.
There are no roads in most of the towns, transportation beyond hiking involves taking the train, which stops in all five towns, or a boat – the ferry skips Manarola, but stops in the other four.
When we finished our hike we explored Corniglia and found a place to eat. After lunch, we took the train to Riomaggiore. We walked up the main street of the town – it was an uphill climb. After a bit, we walked back toward the train station. We followed a short tunnel to the best part of the town – the picturesque harbor. We climbed around on the rocks and took tons of pictures before boarding the ferry for the trip back to Vernazza.
The ferry did not stop in Manarola and we didn’t have time to go there, so we have a reason to go back. We stopped in Monterosso on our way out of town. This northern-most village has the best beach of the five. Monterosso is the largest of the town in Cinque Terre and the only one that allows cars.
Although we stayed in Vernazza – and loved it – there are B & Bs scattered throughout the region. If you are driving, you will want to stay in Monterosso, but if you arrive by train, your options are open.
The Cinque Terre area is full of natural beauty, but also steeped in culture. I would recommend visiting for at least two days in order to experience in well. It is a great place to relax, savor the local cuisine, and take in the beautiful surroundings.