Cinque Terre literally means “Five Lands” in Italian, as it is an area on the Northwestern coast of Italy made up of five different towns. It was named to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1997, and today it remains one of the must visit places around the world. Each of its five towns are unique in their own way, but they are all filled with colorful homes along the coastline and amazing food from the sea. It is extremely easy to get to each town by train, taking only 5-10 minutes to travel between each and costing a few euro. Additionally, you can hike between each town, difficulty and length of each hike differing, and the best way to find out all of that information is here. Cinque Terre is full of beauty, wonder and amazing cuisines. If you are considering or haven’t yet considered a trip here, I would highly suggest one soon.
Cinque Terre begins with the most northern city, Monterosso al Mare, then following in order is Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Monterosso is one of the most visited and stayed in of the five towns in the area, and it is the one I wish we would have stayed in for the weekend(we stayed in close by La Spezia, which has a main train station that can get you to any of the towns). It is a city to be explored in itself and has great restaurants and shops dotting the shoreline, along with some markets certain days of the week.
We began our hike in Monterosso and then headed to the next town: Vernazza. This is about a 2 hour hike(since we stopped to take a TON of pictures) and there are amazing sites on the way, along with jewelry and drink vendors along the trails.
Vernazza is your iconic Cinque Terre. Pictures from this spot are iconic for this area, and they really do not disappoint. Two things Cinque Terre is known for is focaccia and even more, focaccia pizza, and pesto. So Vernazza did not disappoint with slices of their focaccia pizza with pesto and other toppings, right next to the ocean.
Hiking out of Vernazza offers some more amazing views of the town from another angle, but it takes you next to the town of Corniglia. Corgniglia is more on a hillside than close by the water. The cluster of colorful homes atop the hill make for iconic photos of the town. In Corniglia, we had to try another local thing to Cinque Terre: lemons! We stopped to get some amazing lemon slushies, and it was the first time we had lemonade since being in the States! They were so fresh and great in the middle of our long hikes.
Leaving Corniglia and heading to our next town of Manarola, we realized the main hiking trail was closed and had been since landslides in 2011. We almost gave up on the idea of hiking these towns, but with the lead of two REALLY professional hikers, they led us through some (dangerous) hills and possibly some trespassing, but we came out alive and made it to Manarola in the end.
Manarola is another iconic and beautiful town of Cinque Terre. We couldn’t stop taking pictures as we entered the town, and they only got better as we continued to move closer. Here, we had to try the last of the Cinque Terre cuisines and we got seafood cones! These are literally just paper cones filled with fried seafood, but it is some of the freshest and most delicious seafood you will ever have.
The last hiking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore was also closed from landslides, so this time we decided to take the two minute train rather than risk our lives on the treacherous off trails again. Riomaggiore was another beautiful town nestled right into the coastline.
On our last day, we decided to visit a town named Portovenere, just south of the Cinque Terre region and La Spezia. This is an old fishing village and still has a lively population today, full of restaurants, tourists and even sailing competitions like we got to see. Definitely a beautiful town and well worth a half day visit if you are close by!
Cinque Terre is full of beauty and amazing cuisines, and it is a place everyone should visit once in their lives.