Cinque Terre is a stretch of five towns across the enchanting Italian riviera. I fell in love with this place far before I ever visited it. Perhaps you have too. The photos of pastel colored buildings, perched precariously on the cliffside and gazing out onto the sea are enough to make anyone’s heart skip a beat.
Last week I made my way here by way of boat on a day trip. This is the most scenographic way to go, and provided me with a unique viewpoint of the landscape. The ferry from La Spezia will take about an hour, and once you are in the villages, you can easily spend the day village hopping (except for Corniglia). You should also take the opportunity to visit the village of Portovenere, which isn’t one of the 5 villages but certainly is a worthwhile stop.
So, what are the differences between the villages? Here is a quick rundown on each of their unique characteristics, as well as photos from my vantage point of approaching the villages by boat. My suggestion would be to visit them all, and choose to spend a few nights in the one that best suits your tastes.
The 5 Villages of the Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore is the largest of the five, and is comprised of a tangle of homes that lead down a ravine to a small harbor. The view of this is postcard perfection.
Manarola is the next tiny town, and is best known for it’s grapevines. As with Riomaggiore, it can be heavily trafficked.
Corniglia can be considered the quiet middle village, and is the only one of the bunch not directly on the sea. It is surrounded by vineyards and you can take steep steps that will lead you down to a rocky cove. Because it is harder to reach, it is the village least overrun by tourists.
Vernazza is my favorite of the bunch. This small, quintessential village is the quaintest of the five, and is lined with cafes along it’s cobbled main street, and a bar hanging off the edge of the castle.
Monterosso is considered the resort town of the area, is the only one to have a tourist beach, and is the village that is most accessible by car. This is the place for crowds and a late-night scene, but it still possesses a charming old world charm in the historic center.
Why should you consider a visit to this part of Northern Italy? Well, if sun, sea, wine, hiking, and beautiful sunsets sound like your idea of la dolce vita, Cinque Terre just might be how you spell perfection in Italian. I’d love to help you create the perfect trip to Italy, and possibly include this area as a stopover or a wonderful day trip. Let’s start planning!