How to visit the Cinque Terre, Liguria
By now, just about any traveler interested in Italy has heard about the five villages of the Cinque Terre in the region of Liguria.
Liguria is situated northwest of Tuscany and the coastline wraps around the Mediterranean with Genova in the center, and touches France in the western side.
Why visit the Cinque Terre?
These five simple colorful fishing villages located along nine miles of coastline were and still are, not so easy to reach. From south heading north one would pass Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and MonteRosso al mare. The villages were once soley connected to each other by boat or by hiking dirt paths, but after the unification of Italy, and once a train line was constructed in the late 1800’s it is easier to arrive there. Today the towns are a magnet for young hipster hikers and offer a low cost modest tourism as a contrast and alternative to the Italian riviera found further north on the coast.
I was once escorting a group there many years ago, when a couple of Americans came up to me and asked . “ why are we here?What should we do now?”
The focus here is for many people is to do the walks /hikes between the villages, enjoy the beauty and slow down and enjoy life. Dolce far niente. Leave your heels at home and just go. With only 3600 inhabitants in these villages bear in mind it does not take much for a cruise ship shore excursion to make the area quite crowded. In season timing is essential.
The beauty of the area is stunning, with colorful narrow homes in the villages and while hiking past kilometers of dry stack stone walls, low trellised vines and olive trees, it surely will be a day to remember hiking here. For those who are not hikers, then the boat excursions or trains allow you to see the villages as well with minimal effort.
PERSONALITIES OF THE CINQUE TERRE VILLAGES
Allow one day to see all five villages , it takes 6 hours to hike it non stop, and make sure to get on a boat for the coastal view.
- Riomaggiore- nice port- no beach you can walk to Manarola in 30 minutes on a flat trail through a tunnel.
- Manarola- decent port, no beach
- In Manarola you can take the boat but you will skip Corniglia since there is no port , and go to Vernazza. The walk from Riomaggiore to to Corniglia is 45 min. Modest difficulty it does have a hill.
- Corniglia- top of a hill no port. 200 steps uphill to see town- electric bus provided. - No beach in town, but a beach below near train station. -if you are low on time, then skip this one.
- Vernazza- Most colorful and charming of all villages. – dramatic, difficult to walk tom or from.
- No beach, dont miss it.
- Monterosso- the largest- and has two parts:old part which is very charming, the new part where train station and parking is located, and biggest beach is located. largest.
YOU CAN PURCHASE THE PARK ENTRY TICKETS HERE. http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Eindex.php
AND WHILE YOU ARE IN LIGURIA VISIT: The Gold Coast of Italy
CAMOGLI, SANTA MARGHERITA Ligure, PORTOFINO, CHIAVARI & RAPALLO
Do not neglect touring the rest of Liguria, Portofino, Camogli, Chiavari, Rapallo. Santa Margherita Ligure all deserve your time. If you are looking for the Italian Riviera this would present a good start. The Italian gold coast, which includes Camogli to Chiavari and also family friendly Sestri levante all have wonderful 4 and in some cases five star accommodations. Palm tree lined pathways, and designer shops, galor and you can wear your best and bring your heels here.
The food in Liguria is wonderful, as are the wines , with their regional varietals of Pigato, Vermentino and famed SCIACCHETRÀ dessert wine and not to omit the olive oil produced primarilywith Taggiasca olives is very delicate to compliment the fish based cuisine.
You would not be disappointed to add this location to your travel itinerary, and since you are taking the time to go out of the way to get here, then stay, 3-4 days for the Liguria Levante ( eastern) and 3 days for Liguria Ponente ( western). It is a good area to combine with Piemonte s famous red wine based on Nebbiolo. Ah but that is another story.