Cinque Terre (“5 Lands”) is a beautiful protected area in the Italian region of Liguria. I know it pretty well as I’ve visited many times being only 2 hours and a half from Milano.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this title is well deserved thinking about its unique peculiarities…there are five medieval villages scattered on a hilly rugged coast of wild nature and daring vineyards.
If you want to visit this beautiful area, the easiest way to reach it is by train; depending on where you are coming from, you can arrive in Genoa by your desired mean of transport but then please go to the station and use the train. Roads are very narrow and parking space is really limited (and generally you have to pay a ticket).
Until the end of 1800, all five towns were isolated and you could go there only on foot or by boat. Now you can reach them easily: regional trains are fairly frequent until the evening and they stop in every village. You can also buy a Cinque Terre Card (available in train stations for different days’ validity) which entitles you to infinite train journeys and mini buses inside towns.
If you love to hike then I highly recommend you to walk the trails between the villages: they are absolutely amazing and easily doable if you are normally fit.
You won’t forget the astounding views from Cinque Terre paths.
I suggest you to take the reverse route: starting from the farthest east town, called Riomaggiore, you then reach Manarola, followed by Corniglia, then Vernazza and the last one Monterosso al Mare. Every path was free of charge until a terrible flood in 2011 destroyed many portions of the area. Now there’s an entrance ticket (5 € for a day) and the sum collected is used for restoration and maintenance.
I always hike in this order as you begin with the easiest path called Via dell’Amore (“Road of Love”) that is a 1 km paved road also reachable by disabled persons.
The following trails are definitely tougher and you have to pay attention on where you are walking but you will be definitely rewarded by amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea glimpsing from wild and steep coves.
When you get to the five villages, you can explore the narrow streets (“carrugi”), little churches and old buildings and you’ll find great opportunities to eat the typical and delicious Ligurian food.
Riomaggiore: small beach, colorful towerhouses, churches dating back from 1500 to 1300 and a castle from 1400
Manarola: colorful towerhouses clinging on a gorge, a little dock and a nice 1300 yo church
Corniglia: as it’s the only town not on sea level but on the top of a 100 m hill, you have to climb 382 stone steps to get to a beautiful terrace where you will have an amazing panoramic view of all Cinque Terre…take it easy under the scorching sun 😀
Vernazza: many beautiful old churches, fortifications and painted houses nested on a wonderful little bay
Monterosso al Mare: the most densely populated, it has historical churches and forts on the longest beach of the area (ideal to relax after a long trekking day)
So what are you waiting for? Go to Cinque Terre and enjoy nature, art, food and…“sciacchetrà”, the native wine!