Italy tops the list of favourite travel destinations for so many people and it is so easy to see why – the fashion, food, culture, lakes, riviera and the diverse cities from Venice to Milan and the capital Rome, there is something that suits everyone. Regular readers of our blog will know that we are as equally enamored by this incredible country and one of the most spectacular places we have visited on our travels in Italy is the Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre is a collection of five World Heritage Listed villages on a dramatic, rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera. The villages, Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola are perched high on dramatic cliffs looking out to sea and are awash in pastel shades which are an Instagram dream.
Monterosso is the only one of the five villages that has much of a beach area which makes it popular with families and sunseekers, however ELE’s favourite village to stay in is Vernazza, for its quaintness and exquisite scenery.
The food of the region is magnificent, handmade ravioli with prawns, fresh anchovies and trofie pasta with the Ligurian speciality, pesto, topped off with a glass of sweet late harvest sciacchetra are some of the highlights. Make sure you also try the local anchovies (which the area is famed for) and the plump juicy lemons which are in abundance all over the area.
Reaching the five villages (and travelling between them) is easiest by train with direct services from Pisa, Genoa and Rome. Largely not accessible by car (cars are not allowed in to the town centres) taking the train that winds through each of the villages is the most simple way to get around. Another great way to experience the Cinque Terre is to walk between the five villages – which for centuries was the only way of getting around – and take in some of the most exquisite sea views.
To do the area justice, we would recommend at least 3-4 days to explore, it is possible to visit just on a day trip however the real beauty of the Cinque Terre is slowing down and enjoying the good life for a few days without rushing.
Accommodation can be hit and miss and can also be very expensive at peak times so we recommend first choosing the village you want to be based at and then doing your research – it is possible to find some quaint family-run accommodation that won’t break the bank and will give you a taste of the authentic Italian life. If you like castles, crashing waves and a deck overlooking the aqua blue sea try Gianni Franzi in Vernazza.
Many of the villages will require alot of walking up and down steep stairs so be prepared to get a good workout and don’t forget to pack some suitable footwear.
Our top tip is to go out of season when the weather is still warm but the crowds have died down. May/early June and late September/October are both beautiful times of year when you can still swim but the crowds have dispersed. If you like the cooler weather for hiking try April and November. Make sure you add the Cinque Terre to your next Italian itinerary, it truly is a magical part of the world.