Cinque Terre, 5 small towns on the West Coast of Italy that will blow your mind.
You probably already know a lot about the magical place in the north of Italy known as the Cinque Terre, “Five Lands”. But we would like to explore it with you and give you some useful tips to visit this amazing site settled in the Liguria region.
The name Cinque Terre refers to the five small towns located in the area, these are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. If you love to be surrounded by nature, different kinds of architecture & buildings, history, and breath-taking panoramas this is the place for you. Remember that whilst of course you must enjoy the lovely beaches, there is much more to see in this astonishing area. In addition, if you are a trekking/cycling lover you’ll find several paths you can enjoy moving between the towns. But, if you prefer a more relaxed kind of vacation don’t worry, you will be able to move between one town and another in several different fun ways.
Monterosso is the most western of the five towns. The town will strike you because of the contrast between the old and new neighborhoods. If you are here it is possible to visit a wonderful statue, 14 meters, of the God Neptune call the Gigant, the ancient castle overhanging the sea, and Aurora’s Towel dated from the XVI century. It is possible to enjoy a postcard view from the belvedere (viewpoint) where the statue of Saint Francis and the wolf is located. You will also be able to visit beautiful examples of houses from the 1800s, such as Villa Montale. If you like to be surrounded by nature you may decide to cycle along an easy path in the ancient railway tunnels with breath-taking glimpses of Levanto, Bonassola and Framura, three small towns in the west of Monterosso.
The beach of Monterosso is the biggest one and includes some parts with sand and some with rocks.
In Vernazza you’ll be able to explore the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia in front of a beautiful harbor. The church dates back to the XIII century- admire the bell tower and the dome built in a Ligurian gothic style. If you are lucky enough to visit Vernazza at the end of July you should attend the Santa Margherita di Antiochia celebration, in which you’ll see the great fireworks games reflecting on the beach. Also have fun on the Sentiero Azzurro, the “Bluish Path,” walking a few kilometers surrounded by olive and grape trees, in one of the most popular paths of the area. From here begin many mule tracks arriving to the ridge.
Corniglia is the only one of the five towns that is not able to be accessed by the sea. For the most adventurous of you, it will be possible to reach the town claiming the Landarina, a brick ‘staircase’ made of 382 steps. You will feel as though you are hanging between the earth and the sea. The town’s alleys are built into the rock and the small streets are perfect to take a romantic summer walk. If you are a fan of walking you can take a path going between Corniglia and Vernazza, and take a look at St Peter’s church and Guvano’s beach, that is full of pebbles that give it a really unique look.
Manarola doesn’t look like a town, but much more like a colorful painting set in stone. The wonderful colors of the houses create an artificial rainbow, amazing to see at all times of the day. Rich with grapes and olives, this land will show you the perfect harmony between man and nature, and what a man’s force can do without spoiling the landscape around him. Furthermore, from the terraces of the Castle’s square you can enjoy unforgettable sunsets. The most famous monument of Manarola is San Lorenzo church from the XV century. St. Lawrence is the patron of the city and the church is located on the highest part of the town, offering fantastic views.
Riomaggiore is situated between two steep hills. This is the town where the famous Via dell’Amore starts, Love Street, a path dug into the rocks that will lead you to the city of Manarola. The path is amazing if you want to walk and feel a connection with nature whilst hearing the noise of the waves breaking against the cliff. In addition, lovers of trekking will be enchanted by this little town that has a path name Strada dei Santuari, “Sanctuaries Street”, that links together all the Cinque Terre sanctuaries. Riomaggiore is also proud of its castle, dated between XV-XVI century. It has been recently renovated and today is used as a conference center and open to the public.
Do you need more reasons to travel to the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) area?
Well, here are some more spots you may visit during your trip to Liguria.
It is also possible to start the visit of the Cinque Terre from Sestri Levante and Moneglia, two other small towns that are less crowded with tourists and somewhat more authentic. Furthermore in both towns, for the Italian food fans amongst you, it is possible to organize cooking classes and wine tasting.
If you have more time left on the Cinque Terre and you feel like exploring less touristy locations you can decide to take a short trip to Portovenere and Lerici, two cities near La Spezia, which are extremely characteristic. You may also set some time aside to visit the Gulf of Poets, that links the two cities. This Gulf earned its name because it was visited and adored by the great poets of the Romanticism genre, such as Shelley and Byron.
If you want to visit something a little less well-known but you are not interested in Portovenere and Lerici, don’t worry, you can always visit San Terenzo, where you’ll be able to see Villa Magni, known to have been Percy Bysshe Shelley’s house. Or you can follow Virginia Woolf’s footprints finding out what she did on her visit in this fantastic town.
If you are an adventurous seafarer and prefer to take a trip by sea, why not choose a boat itinerary in this terrific location, exploring the Five Lands in a different perspective, and enjoying a nice sunny day at sea. Beware this is not a choice for winter when the seas can be very rough in this wild area!
We hope to have inspired some of you to prepare your suitcases and visit this extraordinary region. And please remember that there is much more to do and visit in this land for any kind of traveler.
Oh, we almost forgot, remember to pack your camera: you are going to need it!