Cinque Terre embodies five towns (cinque terre means five lands in Italian) that are linked to the Ligurian cliffs along the Italian west coast. Usually, when you think at this area, you regard it as a whole, as the five towns will be visited all together. Mainly because they are located very close to each other, so you can reach the first one to the last one in a few hours. But bear in mind that there are five separate cities, each with its own personality.
Once a quiet fishing villages region - whose witty inhabitants were able to make everything possible and so as to cultivate anything, even vines on the almost vertical slopes -, nowadays Cinque Terre bases its existence almost entirely on tourism. Small towns are incredibly populated by Americans and Germans tourists who spend their holidays here, and their popularity is also increasing among other categories of visitors.
From the beginning you should know that it's almost impossible to visit the Cinque Terre when it is not the peak of the touristic season. You could go in the middle of winter, but the weather would get you more indoors. It would be a shame, because the main attraction of the area is represented by the possibility of making excursions along the slopes, from one city to another. As long as you are aware that the area is almost always more crowded than you'd expect it to be, consider yourself ready for anything. And if you were already in the area and looking for a picturesque place where you can relax in February, for instance, you might get lucky to find the perfect room in Cinque Terre, when occupancy with tourists is at its peak.
Cinque Terre towns
As previously said, every town in the area has its own personality. If you want to stay in a particular one, very well, if not, you have no reason for concern. You can go from one to another very easily by train, so you can consider the region as the five neighborhoods of a single city. The presentation begins with the north, then the description is descending towards the coast.
Monterosso al Mare, sometimes known simply by the name Monterosso is the largest of five and most visited - especially by young people. It is the only place that has a long and beautiful openness to the beach right in the town (when it comes to the others, in some, in order to get to the beach, you have to walk a little more, and in the others, the beaches are very small or rocky).
Vernazza is probably the town with the most beautiful central square, located right next to the water; there you will also find a beautiful old tower and a lovely church amiss. The ruins of the castle are located on a hill from where you can admire the panorama of the whole place.
Corniglia is the only town which is not situated right by the water; is placed at the top of the mountain and in any direction you want to go, you have to climb a fairly steep slope. It isn’t that tiring – none of the Cinque Terre towns will make you tired -, but to reach to the top, you have to make a little effort. In the evening, after all hikers leave, the area settles down a bit and is much quieter.
Manarola is more rustic and less gleaming than its northern neighbors; for this reason, many find this place even more picturesque and less crowded with tourists. The part of the road between Manarola and Riomaggiore is the easiest. It is paved, so you can make the trip even if you have a baby in a pram and is called Via dell'Amore - the Way of Love.
Riomaggiore is emerging from the water and the tilt has dramatic accents - do not walk away from your wheeled troller or suitcase while climbing the slope, because you might find it in the sea the next second! The settlement is very popular especially among German tourists.
No matter when you decide to come here, do not be disappointed if you do not take a break on the quiet Italian beaches as you hoped. Cinque Terre was discovered by quite a lot of people, and although it's no longer a quiet place, it remains full of charm and delight and it thoroughly deserves to be included in any Italian itinerary.
Pic 1-4 flickr.com
Pic5-7 zepelintour.roCINQUE TERRE, THE GEMS STRANDED ALONG THE LIGURIAN SHORE CINQUE TERRE, THE GEMS STRANDED ALONG THE LIGURIAN SHORE