Cinque Terre, the land of 5, or 5 villages is one of the most popular destinations in Italy these days. It is like enjoying 5 Wonderful rides in one ticket. Cinque Terre is a coastal area within Liguria, in the northwest of Italy. The area lies in the west of La Spezia and consists of 5 lovely villages by the seaside called Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The whole area and the surrounding hills are now protected as a national park and declared as World Heritage Sites.
Cinque Terre was unknown to the world before 1960 and was difficult to reach. Now, this area stays crowded as tourists flock from all over the world to see and enjoy the natural beauty of the villages and the surrounding mountains. This is the best place to visit for the hikers or people like me, who love to explore the surroundings by foot. Best way to reach Cinque Terre is by leaving your car and going either by Train or by Sea. The cars have to pass through difficult and narrow roads to reach and commuting between the villages will be a lot of hassle in car.
Cinque Terre and all of the 5 villages are filled with beautiful pastel colorful houses and buildings which have amazing terraces. The streets are beautiful, neat and clean as the residents understand the importance of the tourism to this place. Another amazing thing about these 5 villages is that there are no cars, you get to walk around everywhere without the sounds of cars, and you can cross any street without any fear. Also, an ideal place to visit with kids.
The 5 Villages of Cinque Terre Italy
Cinque Terre, the land of 5 is famous because of the 5 villages and the connectivity between them. You might have seen many photos of the villages, but the photos are not enough. The visit to Cinque Terre is an experience that takes you on a romantic ride on the rugged portion of the Italian Rivera.
There are two enjoyable ways to explore and commute between the 5 villages. One of them is to take a ferry that stops at all these Cinque Terre villages, except for Corniglia. The experience you get by seeing these villages from water is exceptional. The beautiful colorful houses make a boundary and hills looks magnificent behind them.
The other way needs you to be fit and healthy to walk between these villages by the hiking trails. The hiking is not very easy, but this is the best way to explore and enjoy Cinque Terre. The shortest and most crowded path is between Riomaggiore and Manarola which is also known as the Path of Love. You must be prepared and check everything including weather before going on the trails. If you are fully prepared, the best experience is the 12-kilometer complete hike from Monterosso to Riomaggiore. The trails will offer you breathtaking views and an experience that you will always remember. The trail also gets thrilling when at times you will find yourself on a narrow trail between the vertical cliffs and the sea crashing far below without any barriers.
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso is the largest village out of the 5 of Cinque Terre. The village is located on the hills but is flatter than others. There are a lot of cultivations of olives, vines and lemons. Monterosso is the only village out of 5 with a large white sandy beach with calm waters. There are many hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops. Hence the place is more ideal to live with family and kids.
The beautiful reefs and the crystal-clear water of the beaches make the place very attractive. The village is divided into two parts (Old and New) marked by the old tower of Aurora. There is a statue of a Giant in the newer part of the town. This statue represents Naptune, God of the sea and has become a symbol of Monterosso. The new area called Fegina is full of life with good quantity and quality of hotels for the tourists.
In the older part you will find narrow cobblestone streets with densely constructed terrace houses. There is also a medieval castle, for which ruins have remained to be witnessed by the tourist.
Vernazza is the considered as the most beautiful among the 5 villages. Vernazza is a small fishing village which is totally car free. This village has a very old history as the castle and tower built in the town was used to protect the villagers from Pirate attacks. The small harbor of Vernazza is the only secure landing point on the Cinque Terre coast.
The narrow cobblestone streets are so beautiful and the walk in the village is full of joy with wonderful views around every corner. You can click on Vernazza to read more details & history about this amazing village.
Corniglia is the only town out of the 5 villages that do not have access by the sea. This tiny village lays in the middle of the Cinque Terre and 100 meters above the sea. Corniglia is connected with other villages by well maintained footpaths or by a train which is connected to the village also by a footpath.
Corniglia is surrounded by many vineyards and terraces as the village has a very rich agricultural tradition. The architectural structure of Corniglia is different than the other 4 coastal villages because this is an inland village.
Manarola is the most photographed village out of the 5. Most of the photos related with Cinque Terre are the photos of Manarola because of the wonderful point that lets you take a wonderful panoramic picture of the whole village in one shot. This village is bigger than Vernazza and Corniglia. Built on a high rock 70 meters above sea level, the village has many rocky beaches.
The village is famous for deep water swimming and seafood restaurants. The narrow cobblestone streets are amazing and moving around the village is like a trip on a hill with ups and downs. The beautiful churche on top of Manarola was once a post to watch and protect the village from pirates.
Riomaggiore is one of the best villages to stay in Cinque Terre. The streets are wider, and the train station is just a few minutes’ walk. This village is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre with lots of stairs to get to the top levels of the town. There are many great restaurants in the village that promise fresh and tasty food.
The 20 minutes walking path from Riomaggiore to Manarola is known as the most romantic path because of the atmosphere and amazing landscapes.
Things to do in Cinque Terre
If you are in Cinque Terre, you are here because of the breathtaking natural beauty of the area and the following amazing activities. These are the best way to explore, enjoy and build mesmerizing memories for the rest of your life.
Hike at Cinque Terre
If you are healthy and fit, you should try your best to hike around all the 5 villages. All these villages are connected by a well-managed trail.
- Monetrossos to Vernazza will take around 2 hours and is around 3.5 kilometers.
- Vernazza to Corniglia will take 1 hour 30 minutes and is 3.45 kilometers.
- Corniglia to Manarola will take you around 1 hour and the distance is 2.9 kilometers
- Manarola to Riomaggiore as mentioned above will take 20 minutes and the distance is around 1.1 kilometers.
Ride a Boat
Viewing the villages of Cinque Terre by boat is also a breathtaking experience. If you have explored the villages by footpaths and trails, exploring them from the boat will add wonders to your joy. The view from the outside of the village from the sea seems like a canvas of colorful houses and buildings.
Beaches of Cinque Terre
There are a lot of beaches in this coastal area and every beach is unique and wonderful. You can enjoy the white sandy beaches and also the rocky beaches. At some beaches the water is calm and at some the water is ruffling around.
Photography around Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a photography heaven. You will see many professional photographers roaming around with their equipment and finding the best points to capture the amazing beauty of this coastal area and all 5 villages. Make sure if you are going here, at least take a phone with good camera else you will regret.
You are in Italy; Food will be everywhere. Not just food but delicious food and when you are in Cinque Terre there will be abundance of seafood restaurants. You can have some of the creamiest cappuccinos around every corner. The area is a very famous tourist destination, so it is filled with many cafes, restaurants and bars. Cinque Terre is a place to relax, walk, eat and drink wine. There are many vineyards surrounding the area and you can get plenty of local wine tasting.
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