The rugged coastline, the buildings perched on cliffs, the little restaurants selling the best seafood, it all makes the Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a very special place to visit. Add to that, the produce that is being grown and produced along the hillsides of this Ligurian province and it makes for one of my favorite travel destinations. It’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list of Italian must sees.
To experience life here stay in an apartment that hangs over the winding main street that runs down to the waterfront. It is magical. Watch the fishermen bring their catch in and sell directly to the many little restaurants that line the main street. No cars allowed, so be prepared to walk. The walkway round the waterfront cut into the cliffs to Manarola is spectacular, and probably the easiest of all the walks.
Tiny, almost isolated, and absolutely delightful. We found some real gems here and met some amazing locals. Try travelling between the towns by boat if you are not up to walking. If you like a challenge (and the coastal pathway is closed) walk the 750 steps up and over to Corniglia.
This ancient hilltop village Corniglia, a farming village, is the most remote of the Cinque Terre villages and the only one not directly on the sea. There are plans to build an elevator from the railway; until this happens to get there you must conquer 337 steps in 33 flights of stairs.
A beautiful harbour with the old village wrapping back into the steep hillside and like the others offering the Italian lifestyle as we know it… Vernazza is the only natural port of the five villages and became wealthier than its neighbours. Consequently, its architecture is more elaborate.
The other mode of transport if you want to explore the five cliff hugging towns is the very regular train service that connects the coastal towns with Genoa in the north and La Spezia in the South. If you base in one town, these little trains are a great way to get to the others without the walking, of which there is plenty, with pathways in various degrees of ease or difficulty. Some not for the feint hearted as you walk around the steep hillsides among vineyards and hill hugging lemon and olive groves. There are some super nice places to stay around Monterosso al Mare including agriturismos in the hinterland which we use in our tours now, just to add to the local experience.
Monterosso is known all over the world for its uniqueness. It’s a colorful town clinging onto the cliff and facing the rugged beauty of the rocky shores, historically renown as a fisherman village,it still serves some of the best seafood fresh from the fishermen daily.
About the author: Since 1999, Bruce White has been traveling Italy, returning every year to a different region with pre-planned wine and food experiences. Some have been with food and wine tour operators in small groups, some planned directly with local specialists to ensure something very local and very special. With this network of contacts and a desire to return as often as possible, Bruce launched Wine and Food Traveller to share experiences with those who share the same passion for the Italian Lifestyle.
The Cinque Terre is where one of Wine and Food Traveller’s tours is based and travelers get the opportunity to meet some amazing producers of local products, participate in cooking classes and travel the region discovering the Italian Lifestyle. Find out more details.