Cinque Terre is a magical location. It is a place full of history, beautiful views and warm people. Literally, its name means “five lands.” The small villages of Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Monterosso and Manarola, situated in Liguria, together form a dream tourist destination. All of Italy is fantastic, but if you visit these places you will have different experiences and feel an old spirit. All the villages are situated near the sea except for Corniglia, which is atop a cliff.
There is an old charm to be found in all these places, as well as many resorts and hotels. You can easily travel the narrow paved streets full of colorful houses that are perched over each other on the rocks like birds in the sky. There are train routes from village to village, and you can drive a car, too. It is an impressive sight to look across the sea from the tops of the cliffs.
Some history – These fishermen’s villages were founded in the Middle Ages, with the oldest of them, Monterosso, established in AD 643. In the 8th century, Riomaggiore was founded, and the other three followed. Nowadays the villages have a “Middle Ages” look, with a couple of castles and old churches. Most amazing of all is a cliff structure with routes, gardens and terraces.
Riomaggiore – This place is situated in the south and is the southern point of Cinque Terre. You’re very likely to hear bells from the towers in the village during the day. At night, the local fishermen take to the sea to fish for anchovies and the water is full of lights to attract the fish. The history of Riomaggiore is unclear because there is no documentary evidence. The only thing known is that the castle, which has two towers and walls to protect citizens from sea attacks, was built in the Middle Ages. For a while, the castle was used as a cemetery and then was rebuilt. Today it is one of the monuments in the Parco Nazionale. The life and attractions of the village are found primarily on the main street – you can drink coffee in Via Colombo, buy a fresh juice from a street seller, go to a restaurant, shop for clothes, or visit Bar and Vini, situated above the sea with an outstanding view. The market streets offer olives, salami, cheeses, fruits and more…
Manarola – This village is full of boats; you can even see them on the main street. Some of them are quite unusual, and some aren’t used anymore. Here you can swim or take a walk; it is beautiful. If you walk from Riomaggiore along the paved road by the sea, you will reach Aristide Café. There you can enjoy the best coffee ever for just seventy cents. The pier next to the rocks is a starting point for swimming, but it gets deep fast, so be careful. You can also dive from the pier. If you love coastlines and caves, you are in the right place here. There are stairs leading to the sea, with a beautiful terrace halfway down. Eating fresh anchovies from the sea in La Cantina Dello is a superb experience.
Corniglia – This is a grand experience for the senses; try travelling the path from Corniglia station to the village center. You can see and smell lilies, vines, lemon trees, olive trees and more. The village is about 300 kilometers above the Liguria Sea. You can use the path between Corniglia and Vernazza to walk by the cliffs and take in amazing views. At the tower in the village you can drink a glass of wine or have pizza with olives; you’ll feel like time has stopped. From the station, you can take a local bus, which is operated daily, or the road with 365 steps to climb.
Vernazza – This village can be reached from Corniglia by foot, but the path is a bit stony and dirty. View Corniglia and Manarola from above and stop halfway to Prevo. You can see two ancient towers and visit them until 7 o’clock. The main street is below the train station and is connected by many small roads. Two clock towers are situated in the center, and there is also a beach with boats and a wide space with tables at which to sit and relax. The evenings here are great; you can have a glass of wine on the terrace of hotel Gianni, looking around at the beautiful scenario.
Monterosso – This village is quite modern and luxurious on the one hand and traditional on the other. In fact, there are two towns: the old Monterosso and a new one, Fegila. The new town is modern, with large resorts and wide, sandy beaches. You can find a coffee bar and restaurant by the sea. The old town is like the rest of the Cinque Terre villages: narrow paved streets, shops, a market and a center with an interesting statue holding up a terrace.
Cinque Terre definitely has magic in it. The tourists who visit do so mainly to see the beautiful views. This place is very well-preserved. You can spend time with friends and family here like on no other place on earth!