During our stay in Tuscany we decided to do a few day trips. And Scott was keen on testing his driving skills against the locals. Me – not so much but that’s a whole other story.
So packing our swimmers, the camera, some snacks and a good pair of walking shoes, we headed north to Cinque Terre. Let me point out here, with the benefit of hindsight. Don’t do this as a day trip. It’s worth spending at least couple of days there.
Cinque Terre, means five lands -and is named for the five coastal villages in the region of Liguria. As a group they are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. From south to north the towns are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
Rather than drive between the five towns we decided to park at Riomaggiore early in the morning the ferry all the way up to Monterosso – giving us a coastal view of these beautiful and colourful villages.
The plan was to then follow the walking track for part of the way between the villages. A train also runs between each village, which was handy as much of the track was closed due to landslides. The trail between Riomaggiore and Monterosso is the Sentiero Azzuro (Blue Trail) and is five hours total hiking time. I can only hope that at some point the track is restored, as what we did manage to see was spectacular.
Via dell’ Amore (Lover’s Lane) was one of the most famous and picturesque part of the walk and runs for about 1km between Riomaggiore and Manarola. About 3 months after our visit a landslide took out a large section of the walk, injuring 4 Australian Tourists and it has been closed since this time. However there are plans to upgrade and reopen the walk, but with Italian red tape and bureaucracy this doesn’t look to happen until 2019.
The Five Villages
This beautiful little town is a great place to start your day in Cinque Terre. It has one main street, lined with lovely little cafes and restaurants, that leads down to the harbour where you can catch the ferry to head north to explore the other villages.
Another village, built onto the slopes heading right down to the water front. This is where some of the most famous photos of Cinque Terre are taken and tourists and locals alike swim in the small harbour.
This is the smallest village, built up on the cliffs above the sea and great if you ant to get away from the busier towns that attract the bulk of the tourists.
Arguable the most beautiful town in Cinque Terre is Vernazza. Like the other towns there is a single main street heading down to the harbour. Along the coastline you can see the remains of the old wall, protecting the town from pirates in years gone by.
Monterosso al Mare
The northern most town is the largest in the Cinque Terre and unlike the others driving within the town is permitted, though there are still few cars. It is a flat town competed with the others, has lots of sandy beaches and larger hotels. If you are looking for more of a “resort” town, then this is the one.
Without a doubt Cinque Terre is one of the most famous coastal landscapes in the world with close to 2 and a half million visitors a year.
I’m glad we got to go see it, but wish we’d had more time – I really think you need 3 or 4 days to do it justice. Every village has a slightly different feel to it. There are still plenty of walks to do, despite the main coastal walk being mostly closed. We went in early June – just on the shoulder season – not too crowded, and still beautiful warm weather.