Cinque Terre or “Five lands” is a constellation of five rugged coastline hamlets in Italy’s Liguria region. Posted in the Italian Riviera Coast it looks a scene out of the pages from a fairy tale. Vernazza, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Corniglia are the five villages that make up this dream destination. These fishing villages are unique as they are meticulously placed in the rugged terrains of the coastline. Around a decade ago the cars were banned from entering Cinque Terre. The charm of this place is its subtle commercialization. The Cliffs are decorated with colorful houses which enhances its beauty.
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A bit of history
Every year more than 2.4 million tourists flock this rugged region. The beauty of these cliffs is its rugged landscape. All these villages are either connected through rocky hiking trails, trains or ferries. Cinque Terre has its origin back to the Bronze Age. But proper relevance about it can be dated back to 11th Century. The first parish to come up was Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. From, 12th to 17th century Cinque Terre had its share of ups and downs. The place has been occupied, attacked and even suffered the wrath of nature. But the nothing could bring down the spirit of the inhabitants of Cinque Terre. The Wine and Olive of plantation here is very popular among all of Europe.
Cinque Terre has also been an inspiration for many poets. Noble Laureate Eugenio Montale described the beauty of Monterosso and Cinque Terre in his poem “The Lemons”. The coastal settlement first came to be known as a favored travelling destination in the 1970’s. Its beauty and had mesmerized an American traveler who went to write about it. Since then the place has been a favorable tourist destination. Even the popular Hollywood movie the “Wolf of the Wall Street” had some scenes done here.
The best time to visit Cinque Terre
The best time to visit Cinque Terre starts from May and lasts till October. But again best time means tourist throng this place. So, getting the rooms booked at least months prior will be helpful. Avoid the month of November as the rain lashes this place. In the month of May and September various festivals takes place here.
Reaching Cinque Terra
There are a variety of ways to reach Cinque Terra. But the preferred one is by train. Without train it is nearly impossible to enter Cinque Terra. So, a train travel becomes mandatory. You can directly land in Pisa International Airport. Once in Pisa, go to La Spezia Centrale from here transfer to Cinque Terra Express. This is an intercity express that goes up to Levanto. This express will help you to get to the five towns of Cinque Terra. The unreserved sitting arrangement in the train is made for both locals and tourists to go from one town to another. Private cars are banned from entering in Cinque Terra. So, there is no need of going there in a Car as you have to park it either in Levanto or La Spezia. From there either you have to take the train or a hike. The boats are also another way to reach Cinque Terra. But during bad weather these ferry connections are often suspended. You can reach Cinque Terra by boat from La Spezia, Levanto, Portovenere and Lerici. These are same way in which the traveler can move around Cinque Terra.
Where to stay in a budget?
Ostello 5 Terra and Hotel Marina Piccola are some great and cheap options to stay in Manarola. In Vernazza there is this authentic and stylish Lamala which is a great budget option. Hotel La Spiaggia in Monterosso can also be an option for backpackers. Else there are rented flats and many B&B which can be opted.
Places to visit
There is so much to see here and bask in its beauty. One has to make sure the tour is no less than four to five days. It is easy to get around these towns. So, it is best to choose any of the five towns as your base. Each of the five hamlets has beauties that are incomparable to the other.
- Vernazza: It is comparably smaller than the other towns. The Steeps that rise vertically upwards are its beauty. The trademark narrow lanes or “Caruggi” goes through tiny terraces and stair mazes. Occasionally these steeps provide a breathtaking view of blistering blue sea.
- Manarola: “Sciacchetrà” the famous Cinque Terra wine comes from here. The land is ravished with grapevines. “Punta Bonfiglio” is an uphill hike opted by the travelers. The waterfront with fishing boats lined up is a sight to behold.
- Monterosso al Mare: The only town in Cinque Terra that has an appropriate beach. It’s the most preferable town for the tourists. This one stays a bit crowded than the others. The plum anchovies and lemon trees here are very popular.
- Riomaggiore: It’s the largest town in Cinque Terra. The stony beach and pastel houses are its main attraction. Its beauty from the sea is a beholder’s delight. The bird watching centre and botanical garden in the rocky headland is a hot tourist destination.
- Corniglia: The only town of Cinque Terra that is stationed in the rocky cape. It doesn’t have any direct access to the sea. But the beauty of the steps that steep down below for a windy sea experience is mesmerizing.
There are a various trekking paths that one can tread which connects these villages. The Via Dell’ Amore connecting Manarola and Riomaggiore and Sentiero Azzurro between Corniglia and Manarola are the favored trails. There are other alternative trails available. But it is essential to check the road condition of these trails before trailing these.
Munching and Drinking in Cinque Terra
Seafood is the best in Cinque Terra. Indulge in foods such as Shrimps, anchovies and Calamari. Alberto Gelateria’s gelato cone is yummy. Olive drizzled in basil is the best flavor to choose from. But honey can also be a great option. Breakfast here includes coffee and pastry spread. Try the cannolis they are delicious.
This leisure land tucked silently in the Italian Rivera is a traveler’s paradise. Enjoy this place to every bit and bask in the glory of Cinque Terra.