I have always wanted to visit this little-big-country. Or five countries? The name ‘Cinque Terre’ arose because of the five villages inclined into the bays between high cliffs: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, and it means in Italian Five worlds, or countries. All of them are closely interconnected, has something similar, but are also very unique! The most scenic part of Liguria coast is located between summer restorts Levanto and Portovenere. If you happen to have a chance to be close by Liguria region in northwest Italy, I will show you why you should definitely stop by. It really is as stunning as it looks like in all calendar pictures. It’s like a paradise…
The Cinque Terre is a national park since 1999, and even though it is the smallest national park in Italy, it is at the same time the most densely populated. It has a several elements, that makes it unique and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Why is it so special? Human action deeply altered the natural environment of the Cinque Terre. For thousand years the inhabitants of Cinque Terre have dissected the steep slopes of the hills that are thrown to the sea to obtain strips of arable land, the true identity of the Cinque Terre stretch that made them famous worldwide.
How to get to Cinque Terre?
The Cinque Terre national park is located in northwest Italy, in Liguria region. The best way to explore villages is to come to La Spezia either by car or train. From there, you can buy a day-train ticket which can be used for a multiple journey. You can easily get on and off in each village, and the train schedule is very busy every day. This is the most recommended way, because it is almost impossible to park in the villages or go from one to another as they are built in the mountains. Moreover, there are some services included in the train card such as access to the Park’s area, free wifi, toilettes, guided tours etc.
Our first stop from La Spezia was the village Riomaggiore. It is also considered the ’capital’ of the Cinque Terre, and it is the nearest station from La Spezia. It is a busy village situated above a romantic harbor. It is cascadedly arranged, which means that every single house is built in a different height. The village was established along the steep valley of the stream Rio-Major.
Tour around Riomaggiore
Walk through the tunnel, and then turn the right and go down the stairs leading towards the harbor. The Marina is breathless; from there the colorful tower-houses seem to rise from the sea to meet the green hills. You can walk there and take some pictures.
Then come back towards the tunnel, and turn left this time and walk through Via Colombo. When you get to the little chapel, turn left and from there you can get to the Church.
Continue straight and then at the fork turn right and go up the hill towards the Castle. It is really nice view from there. You can easily go down the stairs from the castle towards the Train station.
When you get there, you can either take a train or walk through Via dell’Amore towards Manarola. Via dell’Amore, from Italian the Street of Love is very popular, and leads towards the second village Manarola. It offers an amazing view while you walk along the coastline.
If you are wondering in which village all instagramers and bloggers are posing, then you are in the right place. It is a Manarola. Actually, before we went there I thought it is only this one place, and not that they are actually five different places to visit. Such a nice surprise, haha. And yes, this view is definitely worth it. But Cinque Terre is not only about that ‘one obligatory picture’. The architecture, the history, and the atmosphere makes whole little town so lovely that it you could easily walk around one of them whole day without being bored. For Manarola, it is typical pastel-coloured houses that are sealing on the slopes of the cape. A watercolor made by a bright colour framed by terraces cultivated with vineyards and olive.
Tour around Manarola
Manarola is very little, so you can’t get lost there. When you get off the train, take the tunnel as in Riomaggiore and then turn right. Walk straight through Via Discovolo and then turn right and you will get to the Church – Chiesa di S. Lorenzo
On the way back, you can take a walking tour up the hill to see the colorful houses from ‘above’. You will see the path on the right with couple of stairs, and along the vineyards. It is a nice walk with an amazing view on the coast.
Then go back down close by tunnel to Piazza Za Dario Capellini. From there go down and turn right. Continue all the way until you finally reach that view all people are taking about and take as much pictures as you wish.
‘Amore a prima vista.’
Monterosso al Mare
Since we had only one day for this trip, we decided to skip two other villages and go to the last one Monterosso al Mare which is also a center of the area. It has a nice beach Fegina, and this is what we needed at that point, because it was so hot! This village was a favourite summer retreat of the poet Eugenio Montale, who received a Nobel prize in 1975. He described it as a ‘rocky and austere village, refuge for fishermen and farmers’. One day I will come back to Cinque Terre and enjoy the glass of wine looking at the sunset by these colorful houses. Today, I just bought the picture of it in the souvenir shop, so I have a reason to come back!