If you’re looking for beautiful scenery then the world is packed with opportunities, however one such destination you might not be aware of, which is certainly more beautiful than it is given its already great credit for, is Cinque Terre. This is one of Italy’s most quaint, traditional, and beautiful destinations, and if you’re into walking, you have double the bonus.
Cinque Terre means Five Lands, and that is because there are five beautiful coastal villages which make up the region – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Because of their natural beauty they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List to protect them, which tells you a lot about their picturesque qualities, and olde-worlde charm.
Let’s look at each one in turn.
The most southern of the villages in the region is quaint and beautiful, which is a term you’re going to be hearing a lot! Full of fishing boats heading out at night in order to catch their fresh fare, such as anchovies, and an ancient stone castello, which makes up one of the monuments in the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre. You can sit and watch the world go by with a delicious Italian coffee on Via Colombo too.
Quaint, again! You’ll find fresh produce in abundance here, with fishing boats again heading out for the daily catch. Swimming is good here, and you can jump from the small pier and explore the caves along the coastline and the underwater rocks.
More swimming opportunities await you in Corniglia, as you arrive along a road filled with fragrant lemon trees, and lilies. This particular village feels smaller than the rest, but that’s part of the charm. To get to the town you need to either get the bus, if you’re feeling less than active, or climb the 365 steps from the train station to the top of the hill; if you do that however, the view is amazing.
You can walk to Vernazza from Coriglia along a dirt path which starts off in an olive grove and then leads along the coastal path; this isn’t particularly strenuous, but do watch out for steep parts. The town itself is deceivingly quiet during the day, full of winding streets, however the night life is certainly bright and varied.
Monterosso is actually split into two by a road tunnel, and one side is old, the other is modern. This is probably the most touristic of all the towns or villages within Cinque Terre, and offers the best of both worlds.
In order to reach this picturesque part of Italy you can either fly to Pisa or Genoa, or you can get the train from Milan to Genoa, and swap to the local line from there. Once you’re in the region, getting around is easy via the trains which link all areas, but the most popular way to see the area is to get your walking shoes on. Now, it’s worth mentioning that the risk of landslides does occasionally close some of the trails around Cinque Terre, so do check ahead of time regarding availability. If you do head to the walking coastal paths then you will need to buy a pass, which at the time of writing is 5 euros, and you buy this at the tourist information offices in each village/town.
The main attraction of Cinque Terre is without a doubt the breath-taking scenery, and if you get the chance to explore this beautiful region of Italy, jump at it.
Photo Credit: Pank Seelen