Cinque Terre: A region beyond compare
Cinque Terre translates into “five lands”. This translation stands for the five villages virtually etched into the rocks between the sea and the hills: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. There is much to see and do in this area, from hiking and swimming to wine tasting and admiring gorgeous sunsets. Despite the rugged landscape, getting here is quite easy by train.
La Spezia is your point of departure to the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital city of the eponymous province, La Spezia isn’t without things to see. This port boasts numerous churches and cathedrals and not one – but two castles. The fort-like Castle of San Giorgio has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, the first being in 1262. Lorenzo de Medici constructed “La Cittadella” in the late 15th century. Both are worthwhile visits before taking off to the towns.
Eurostar Italia has direct connections to La Spezia from Rome, Florence and Pisa. Once here, getting around the five towns is simple thanks to the Regionale train that makes all the local stops: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola. Riomaggiore is yours in just eight minutes from La Spezia.
The biggest village of Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare. Here you will find a beach,castle and a 17th century monastery containing some valuable works of art. It is the most touristy of the villages.
Monterosso is a spectacular town and is nearly split by the tunnel and the mountains. Visitors walking down from Vernazza will come upon the old town with a beached section right in front of them. Definitely take time to stroll through this area and take in all it has to offer. It is filled with many small, character enriched streets where you can find shops and delightful restaurants.
There is the newer part of town also, however, it is not quite as charming as the old town. You can find hotels and newer style restaurants in the new town. It is a nice area, just lacks the charm and appeal the old town boasts.
Lets move on to Vernazza now. Vernazza is considered to be the favorite village in the Cinque Terre region. The village is dominated by the Round Tower and the ruins of medieval fortifications. Visitors especially come to visit the harbor that can be found next to the village square.
You can spend the day walking around the town, then head to the square for a bite to eat. You can sit by the harbor and enjoy your lunch while watching the waves on the ocean or treat yourself to a nice dinner and gaze at the setting sun.
Next stop, Corniglia. What sets this village apart from others in the Cinque Terre region is the fact that it is not immediately connected to the sea. It is noted for its vineyards and olive groves, as it stands proudly on the principal road over a rocky cliff dropping to the sea.
The San Pietro Church can be found here in Corniglia. It is one of the most interesting gothic monuments of Liguria and the Cinque Terre. The church was built in 1334 on the remains of an 11th century chapel and was then done up.
Below the square of the church, there is a black stone building with gothic arches. Folklore identifies this building as having the old post of the Fieschi family.
To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, which is a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 377 steps. You can also follow a vehicular road that leads you to the village from the main rail station.
An amazing town with awe-inspiring views! Don’t miss it on your trip!
The fourth village is Manarola. This village was founded during the 12th century. It is considered to be the most characteristic village of the Cinque Terre. The people found in this village add a great deal to the character that surrounds the town. A village of warm, welcoming people is what you’ll find here!
Be sure to stop by the gothic style church found atop the hill above the residential area. The church dates back to 1338. You can stroll up a bit further and visit the cemetery of Manarola. From the cemetery you’ll notice a path that skirts the sea, have a walk down and you’ll come to pebbled beaches to spend a few hours on.
Our last stop in the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre. It was founded in the 8th century by a group of Greeks. In 1276, this village fell under rule of Genoa.
Visitors to Riomaggiore marvel at the medieval type architecture that make up the town. One of the must-sees in this village is the church of Saint John Baptist. It makes up a big part of the landscape found in this village and certainly worth a look.
Amongst the different attractions which can be found here in Riomaggiore, above all, be sure to see the Via dell’Amore – the Path of Love. It is a path that winds along the coast, above the sea, offering unforgettable views and connects the village to Manarola.
While we’ve given you a taste of the Cinque Terre, to truly appreciate the area, you must go and see it for yourself. It is a terrific vacation spot, especially for those who enjoy hiking, walking and swimming. With so many trails, as well as ample amounts of water to dive into, you’ll have plenty to do to keep you busy!
For those of you who are not too much into the athletic side of life, you’ll find many things for you as well. Everything from sitting in a square people-watching, to photographing the breathtaking scenery that lies before you.
Go today and experience all the Cinque Terre has to offer, it will be a trip of a lifetime!