Cinque Terre: Italy’s Coastal Gem
Tucked away in a mountainous promontory of the Italian Riviera rests its most iconic highlight, Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a cluster of isolated hamlets along the rugged Ligurian coastline, dotted with remote romantic towns and fishing villages. Cinque Terre’s long-standing colorful architecture and network of stunning coastal and mountain trails attracts and dazzles tourists from around the world.
Cinque Terre is a timeless destination for travelers who want to meander the winding city streets, hiking trails, and terraced vineyards; venture into the coastal forests; rest alongside the waterfront’s gentle rhythms; share wine and friggitoria—a local bite-sized seafood snack piled into a paper cone—in the piazza; or visit ancient clifftop sanctuaries.
A Note on Transportation & Accommodations
You can reach Cinque Terre by train directly from Rome, Pisa, and Genoa, as well as by boat or ferry from ports in Genoa, Portofino, and Porto Venere. Accommodations in Cinque Terre can be expensive and limited, so it’s important to seek and book special accommodations well in advance. If you’re on a budget, La Mala in Vernazza, Hotel La Spiaggia in Monterosso, and Hotel Marina Piccola Manarola are charming and comfortable beachfront options. If you’re looking for something more lavish, La Torretta Charme & Relax is a 5-star luxurious hotel that has a collection of private and public terraces and striking views of the Ligurian Sea.
Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
Riomaggiore is typically the first stop for tourists in Cinque Terre. The stunning sunsets are among the most romantic sights you can witness. Pastel buildings line the steep ravine leading to a tiny harbor, and a botanical garden and bird watching center sit on a rocky cape near the shore.
Sciacchetrà, the Cinque Terre wine, is produced from the grapevines in Manarola. The village’s main street bustles with life, and the waterfront is lined with fishing boats and draped with fishing nets. Because fishing and wine-making are Manarola’s primary industries, treat yourself to a bottle of Sciacchetrà and freshly caught fish from the sea below. The famous walking trail called Via dell’Amore, or Love’s Trail, stretches between Manarola and Riomaggiore and is a popular place for couples to meander and take in the views.
The tranquil village of Corniglia sits atop a tall rocky cliff surrounded by vineyards and is the only village that does not have direct access to the sea. A steep rocky staircase winds up the cove from the waterfront train station. Corniglia’s sea-facing terrace is the only vantage point from where you can see all five villages at once.
Vernazza’ s Piazza Marconi houses an array of colorful buildings that continue to stun and amaze travelers from around the globe. The village’s trademark caruggi, or “narrow lanes”, cling to the cliffside above the brilliant blue ocean. Locals and tourists alike drift along the winding staircases and terraces while enjoying the ocean breeze.
Monterosso, known for its lemon trees, and therefor limoncello, is the northern most of the villages. Restaurants, bistros, and vendors serve plump, freshly-caught anchovies right off the boat as loungers relax on the beach.
Each of the Cinque Terre’s villages is associated with a clifftop sanctuary overlooking the sea and encircled by vineyards. The trails to these sanctuaries are steep and can take anywhere between 20 minutes and three hours one way. Though this is a venture for the more hiking-inclined, the view is well worth the trek.
Cinque Terre National Park
Evocative and extraordinary, Cinque Terre National Park encompasses parts of the communes of Levanto (Punta Mesco) and La Spezia (Campiglia Sunsets). This park is home to a variety of flora and fauna including rosemary, thyme, cork and chestnut trees, gulls, fox, boars, badgers, and martens. While visiting Cinque Terre National Park, you can walk numerous cliffside trails across mountains, cliffs, and forests as you experience the majesty of such a longstanding, versatile land.
Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s brightest, most stunning coastal cities. Its spectacular scenery, locally-made wine, traditional seafood dishes, tangled streets, sprawling trails, and vibrant houses mottle the landscape and hang above the glittering cerulean sea. Cinque Terre’s history and culture is captivating and welcomes travelers worldwide to enjoy a truly unforgettable destination.