The Cinque Terre
Is the name given to five small adjacent villages lining the Costa Ligure of Levante and arguably one of Italy's most well known destinations. From north to south they are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Each have retained a charm all of their own.
The five villages up until 100 or so years ago lived happily in their isolated world until the railway line was built. Hemmed in by steep mountains and the sea making for a unique landscape, each village offers its own claim to fame.
Monterosso offers the best beaches as well as most artisan and wine shops. The town is divided into the new and old maritime section divided by a rocky spur.
Vernazza has a natural pier with an amphitheatre shape and arguably the most picturesque village of the Cinque Terre. Originally a Roman installation with strategic importance dudring the golden age of maritime Genoa. The watch tower and castle dominate the village from the heights. Sit on the pier and dangle your feet over the crystal clear waters and soak up the atmosphere of the passing parade.
Corniglia, perched on a steep rock promontory with two exclusive beaches either side is a steep walk up long flights of stairs, not for the faint hearted, but the view on top is worth the effort and a perfect spot for a well earned lunch or break from one of the many small restaurants and cafes that line its quaint narrow streets and buildings.
Manarola is located along a stream with vine covered terraced hillsides. Famous for its wine its an easy flat paved walk from Riomaggiore. Perhaps the most photographed of the group it too sits atop a bluff and is the second smallest village in the group. Its narrow streets and colourful buildings wind down to a rock protected launching area for its fishing boats.
Riomaggiore, the first and most eastern village main claim to fame is its sanctuary of ‘Madonna di Montenero’ built on a promontory overlooking the village and steep ramp into the sea.
Catch the train from village or village or walk between one section and train the rest. From start to finish it’s a good solid 5 hours walk. The easiest section to walk for a taste of the Mediterranean sea and hillsides would be between Rio Maggiore to Manarola about an 20 to 30 minute average paced walk.
Soak up all the Cinque Terre and beyond on Day 19 of the 'Classic Italy Coast to Coast' tour on a panoramic day out by boat boarding at Levanto, visiting Vernazza and finishing in Portovenere for lunch.