Cinque Terre, Italy

January 2022

We hiked approximately 5 miles and spent 6 hours including time to explore each towns!

Cinque Terre has been in a bucket list for a long time. We were able to manage a day-trip to Cinque Terre from Florence. and had an amazing time trekking the trail connecting the five villages of Cinque Terre.

Tucked away in a particularly mountainous kink at the eastern end of the Italian Riviera, the villages of the Cinque Terre (pronounced chin-kwe ter-re, with a rolled “r” sound)  were shaped by their profound isolation. Set amid some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on the planet, these beautiful, colorful towns can bolstered our spirits.

Sinuous paths traverse seemingly impregnable cliff sides, and a 19th-century railway line that’s cut through a series of coastal tunnels moves people from village to village. Cars have been banned within the villages for more than a decade.

The five villages are no longer the isolated hamlets they once were, but there’s still a feeling of authenticity here, with few roads, perfectly preserved architecture and a network of stunning coastal and mountain trails.

Riomaggiore is the first village coming from La Spezia and it is located 12 km from the city center. It does not offer a lot of parking spots, our wonderful travel planner at Wunderbird Travel advised us to park in La Spezia and use the rail pass to take the train to Riomaggiore. This plan worked out the best for us.

Riomaggiore: Riomaggiore is the largest of the five and acts as its unofficial headquarters. Its peeling pastel buildings march down a steep ravine to a tiny harbor – the region’s favorite postcard view – and glow romantically at sunset, which is best appreciated from the sea. A botanical garden and bird watching center sits on a rocky promontory up the hill from the pebbly Fossola Beach.

The famous Via dell’Amore, Lover’s Lane, wasmclosed due to a landslide. We took train to Corniglia and hiked between Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The two most famous trails: Monterosso – Vernazza and Vernazza – Corniglia. We stopped at each village to explore!

Adding a few tidbits about each town (courtesy Annie)

Corniglia: Corniglia is the “quiet” middle village that sits atop a 330ft-high rocky promontory surrounded by vineyards. It is the only Cinque Terre settlement with no direct sea access, although steep steps lead down to a rocky cove. Narrow alleys and colorfully painted four-story houses characterize the ancient core, a timeless streetscape that was namechecked in Boccaccio’s Decameron. Its tranquil, tangled streets lead to a broad and breezy sea-facing terrace, the only vantage point from where you can see (and photograph) all five villages at once. To reach the village proper from the railway station, you must first tackle the Lardarina, a 377-step brick stairway, or jump on a shuttle bus.

Vernazza: Vernazza’s small harbor – the only secure landing point on the Cinque Terre coast – guards what is perhaps the quaintest, and steepest, of the five villages. Lined with little cafes, a main cobbled street (Via Roma) links seaside Piazza Marconi with the train station. Side streets lead to the village’s trademark Genoa-style caruggi (narrow streets), where sea views pop at every turn.

Sharing some fun photos here for the memories…

Monterosso: The only Cinque Terre settlement to sport a proper stretch of beach, the westernmost village of Monterosso is the least quintessential of the quintet. The village, known for its lemon trees and anchovies, is delightful. Split in two, its new and old halves are linked by an underground tunnel burrowed beneath the blustery San Cristoforo promontory.

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