During my half a year stay in Italy I’ve visited plenty of places. I was traveling at lest every weekend and sometimes managed to visit few spots during one journey. It doesn’t need really mathematical skills to say I saw quite much (ahh but never enough!). I can’t decide which place was my favorite, but every time I’m asking myself this question the first thought I have is my beloved – Cinque Terre.
I don’t know how about you, but I never heard about this place before my stay in Italy. Nevertheless, the second I saw breathtaking pictures on my browser, I knew it will be my next travel destination. If you can relate your feelings after reading this post, don’t wait but plan your visit, you will regret if you won’t!
Cinque Terre is set on the west coast of Italy in Ligurian Riviera. Contrary to what many can think – the name does not stand for one place, but it refers to five small but how charming cities- Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Villages, surrounding them hills and the coastline form Cinque Terre National Park which is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Why it’s so magical and precious? Why are these five teeny-tiny villages are so charming? And why it’s one of the most romantic place in Italy? Let me tell you.
Cinque Terre looks like time stopped there and people forgot to get the cities up to date. You won’t find here museums, coffee or food shops chains nor even cars. What you will find is the corridors of narrow streets going one to another around the most colorful houses as you can imagine. What you will find is also beautiful traditional cities overlooking azure sea waves from the cliffs. What you will find is astonishing cuisine with fresh sea-food and local wine. With the combination of all of these – to be honest – what you will find is also crowds of tourists. But everyone wants to experience this breathtaking views and experience, so how can we complain?
What? Where? And how? Let’s get some practical info about Cinque Terre for now on the example of Riomaggiore, one of my favorite Cinque Terre cities.
Riomaggiore was the first city I visited during my Cinque Terre exploration as it is the closest one to La Spezia (click here for more info). First glance and – breathtaking! Exactly what I was waiting for – the architecture, the atmosphere, the views, for the verificationÂ just check out the photos. Just exciting by looking, huh?
Despite to my usual travel habits, this time I didn’t plan any special attractions, any special paths. The only aim was to see all the five cities in one day and let myself wander among them and enjoy the moment. If you like such kind of traveling you can’t find more perfect destination! Cinque Terre is almost made for it and you can’t get lost! These cities are so tiny and small that walking around them is really intuitive. In this way, just by accidental exploration and taking some small stairs from the main (and almost only) road I happen to be on the hill with one of the most amazing panoramic views ever. In the middle of the small village’s square with Oratorio San Rocco church, on my one side with the view down on the architectural terraces and Castello with the end in the azure sea and on the other side with the view on climbing uphill colorful housesÂ shrouded in fog. Can’t be more poetic, but it was true.
Port and beach
When you take the main street up, you’ll get on the top of the city with beautiful view, churches and castle. But when you take it down, and turn to small stairs you land in the middle of small harbor with the full view of the city growing in front of you. Apart of small boats and ferries don’t be surprised to see people jumping between surrounded by the sea rocks, taking them as the place to sunbathe and swim. With view as from paradise, nothing but just to take a break and reserve one of he rocks for yourself. Ahh this is called happiness!Â
Cinque Terre with it’s charming atmosphere is on the top of the list for romantic voyages. Amazing views, swimming, sunbathing, enjoyingÂ cuisine but also amorous walks! In fact, considering the last one Cinque Terre is a paradise for amateurs of hiking! Through all the cities is going a hiking pathÂ Sentiero Azzurro -Â beautiful trail on the rock side just over the sea. The whole distance according to the guides (available for free in each city’s Info point!) takes approximately 5,5 hours. If you’ve got time and no fear of height you’ll be in seventh heaven! Views are breathtaking! Unfortunately, for long distances you have to pay for this pleasure as on the entrances to each path there are tickets office. You can have no worries for paying multiple times if you buy Cinque Terre Card allowing you to take all hiking routes (pay attention that those tickets offices are open till late afternoon, if you want to enter the hiking path just for few meters to take your amazing picture, it’s better to wait till after 17-18 ;). Although this card allows you to useÂ ecological Park buses and alsoÂ Wi-fi internet connection. Quite a deal.
The most known part of the hiking path isÂ Via dellâ€™AmoreÂ (Love Path – its beginning is visible on the photo above). It connects Riomaggiore and Manarola. It is dedicated for quite short 20 minutes stroll rather than exhausting hiking. Perfect just to get idea of hiking possibilities and potential waterfront views if you don’t have time for few hours expedition. Unfortunately, due to the rock sliding this part of the path is regularly closed and during my stay it was also the case. But who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough?
But apart of hiking, with no cars possibilities how to get around between the cities? There’s no need to worry, Cinque Terre is very well served by specially dedicated train which departures quite often (almost like metro ;), within approximately 15-20 minutes each. The track connects perfectly all the five cities with La Spezia and the ride between each of them is about 5 minutes long (fairly a bit more to La Spezia, maybe 10 minutes). If you plan to visit few cities at the same day (or 2) it’s good to buy Cinque Terre Card Train, which includes all the services from Cinque Terre Card plus unlimited train travels on the way Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia.
Of course we can’t forget about most traditional but also charming possible transport- ferry. Maybe not the cheapest, but for sure the best way to see all the Cinque Terre landscape. Boats have their stops in all the villages apart of Corniglia. If you want to visit few cities in this way you can also invest in daily pass. Each ride is about 10-15 minutes long. But how cute, huh?
For your convenience I put all the attractions and important spots I talked about on one map, which you can use for planning your trip.
For now that’s it about astonishing Cinque Terre! Next article will be about the rest of the cities and another useful clues considering this amazing places.
But donâ€™t wait, justÂ Dream Up Travel!