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A Quick Guide to Cinque Terre, Italy

Travel Sep 30, 2015

a quick guide to cinque terre

Cinque Terre is one of those places that leaves an imprint on you, makes you hungry to return. And return we did! This coastline was actually the first place I visited with my boyfriend almost a decade ago (a spontaneous Italian trip after being together for a few months… a gamble that paid off!), and I was ecstatic to get back there recently for round two. These five Italian villages (cinque meaning 5 and terre meaning earth) perched along the Ligurian coast are the most picturesque you’ll (ever) see. The hiking is mind blowing, and the fact that you can top it off every night with fresh fish and delicious local white wine pretty much seals the deal for me.

The Towns

Riomaggiore 
A lovely place to start the Cinque Terre walk, and with a sweet authentic vibe with lots of locals going about their day to day. It’s the closest town to La Spezia which makes it a great starting point for seeing all the different towns.

Corniglia
Unlike the rest of the villages in the five, Cornelia sits high above the ocean with amazing views. It also has way less tourists and more of a village atmosphere due to being away from the water.

Manorola
We stayed here when we first visited, and loved the cosy atmosphere of this small village, flanked by vineyards up the hill and with a small bay. It was amazing to lay your towel on the rocks and dive straight into the water.

Vernazza
You’ll recognise the vistas of Cinque Terre from this town, as it’s easily the most visited and photographed. It’s utterly gorgeous but can get completely clogged with tourists, make your way yp the hillsides to get away from the throng and see the town it all its glory.

Monterosso
The largest of the five, and the most heavily visited, this town is split into new and old town, with a train that runs through the middle. It has the best beaches of all the towns and a more built up feel.

Looking out over Vernazza

The centre of Vernazza

Heart eyes

All these gorgeous ports to take in!

The beach at Monterosso was perfect!

Which boat to take on the water?

Lunch at Hotel Porto Roca in Monterosso (me and all my mates ha)

Get there

Avoid driving if you can, because the towns are only accessible by train and you’ll have to park in one of the surrounding towns. From one of the big cities like Rome or Florence you can get a train to La Spezia (in the South) or Levanto (in the North) and then switch to a regional train which takes you to the coast.

Stay

The first time we visited we stayed in Manrola in a tiny Bed & Breakfast, and the second time we went we stayed in Riomaggioire at Cinque Terre Residence, we also wandered through Hotel Porto Roca in Monterosso and loved the 70’s vibe.

Do & See

Hiking the trails between the five towns will keep you occupied for your entire visit, but be warned, it’s not the easiest thing you’ll ever do! The hikes range from 30 min to 2.5 hours.

Do some cliff jumping in  Manarola – so. much. fun.

If you’re into the beach, Monterosso’s two main beaches are a great place to hang out under a sunshade.

If you’re not into the hiking, you can also hire a boat or book a boat tour which will allow you to see the towns from the sea. Amazing!

Eat

I loved the fresh seafood and dry white local wine, and had it at every meal. Our faves included:

Climbing high above Vernazza towards Manorola you’ll find a few small trattorias, where you can sit out of the crowds and enjoy the view.

We also liked Gianni Franzi, on the main square in Vernazza – delicious fresh seafood.

We had lunch at Hotel Porto Roca, a little more upmarket meal with an amazing view!

From memory there are also some amazing restuarants along the hikes, you’ll stumble upon one when you least expect it!

Good to know

Just say yes to the Limoncello you’ll get after every meal. Perfect boozy palette cleanser!

This is what I dream about when it’s raining outside…

Looking down onto the beach from above Vernazza (we found the cutest trattoria here)

People going about their day to day in Vernazza

That postcard perfect view…

Couldn’t resist taking a zillion photos in all the cute alleyways.

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