A long time ago, Cinque Terre, which lies in the region of Liguria in Italy, was nothing more than five “sleepy” fishing villages. The name: Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in Italian, and they consist of – from north to south – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Four of the towns tumble down the cliffs right into the water, except for one; the town of Corniglia, which sits high above the water on top of the cliff.
Today, the area is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destination, and part of the charm that attracts people is the lack of corporate development and the feeling of authenticity when visiting the villages. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walk the Sentiero Azzurro
The famous walking path of “Sentiero Azzurro” connects the five towns, and you can actually hike through the five towns in a day. The most rigorous stretch is from Monterosso to Vernazza. The easiest is the Lover’s Lane hike (via dell’ amore) from Manarola to Riomaggiore. The hike, in total, takes between 5 to 6 hours. It is recommended though, to take your time and enjoy the spectacular views during the hike as most of path goes right along the cliffs. You can easily break the path into 2-3 days so you can explore the villages, relax and try the local cuisine. If you’re not into walking, you can catch the local train between the different towns. The local train also has connections with other major towns and cities in the area.
The local produce
No matter if you are a foodie or not, it would be a shame not to try some of the local food and wine. The area is known for its wine and fresh fish and seafood. The local inhabitants have managed to find a way to grow wine grapes on almost vertical slopes. The wine of Cinque Terre is primarily white wine and the specialty is the wine called “Sciacchetrà” which is liquored sweet wine with 18% of alcohol – perfect for a sweet ending to your meal! Pesto Genovese is also well-known dish of the region as well as anchovies, fresh from the sea. You’ll find them marinated in lemon (acciughe al limone), salted (acciughe salate) and with pasta.
Cinque Terre is not exactly famous for its beaches, but the coastline is varied, full of small bays and beaches, some of them in the middle of nature, others just below the colourful houses of a fishing village – you just have to look for them. If you are looking for a traditional beach, head to Monterosso, where you will find the only traditional sand covered stretch of beach. Alternatively, you can explore the area and find your private spot or bath in one of the harbours, where the water is crystal clear!