22 Apr A GUIDE TO CINQUE TERRE
Cinque Terre is one of the most iconic highlights when visiting Italy. The five villages are authentic, with a perfectly conserved architecture, only a few roads and a network of stunning mountain and coastal trails connecting the towns.
The rugged coastline or the pretty romantic villages –
or probably better the two combined – have made this region one of the most desired to visit by people from all over the world.
THE FIVE TOWNS
Is the easternmost of all five villages. Peeling buildings line up down a steep ravine to a tiny beach. Their multi-coloured houses glow at sunset, more appreciated from the sea, making one of the Cinque Terre’s most romantic sights.
Is probably the most picturesque village of Cinque Terre. The bustling main street and waterfront promenade are still lined with fishing boats and other reminders of everyday village life. The best views of the town are from Punta Bonfiglio.
Is the only village that isn’t directly on the coast. Corniglia sits atop a 100m-high promontory surrounded by vineyards, and requires a lot of stairs or a shuttle bus to get there from the train station. It boasts beautiful views, and from a breezy sea-facing terrace you can watch all five villages at once.
Is by far my favourite village of Cinque Terre. The village’s trademark caruggi -narrow streets- rise almost vertically from the small harbour, a maze of stairs and tiny terraces, with big blue sea views popping at every turn. Plus, there are lots of authentic Italian eateries in the main street.
MONTEROSSO AL MARE
It is the only village that has a proper strip of beach. Also it’s the furthest west and the bigger of the villages. So, also is the one that has most restaurants and shops.
HOW TO GET THERE
La Spezia is the closest town to Cinque Terre. So, once there you can catch the train and within 10 minutes you will be to the first town, Riomaggiore. There are also direct trains from the biggest cities of the region, like Genova, Milan or Pisa. I caught a train from Pisa to Monterosso al Mare and take me about an hour and a half to get there.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Frequent trains link the five towns, so this is the best mode of transport between the five villages. Each ticket costs approximately two Euros and be sure to stamp the ticket at the same station you catch the train cause inspectors are common.
Walking between the towns is very popular, especially on the main coastal paths, which are subject to pay entrance fees. The experience totally worth the fee, breathtaking views along the paths are guaranteed, and train rides between the towns are included.
WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT
The region of Liguria boasts some of the best food in Italy. As Cinque Terre is on the coast, seafood and fish are a big part of the diet. Make sure to taste the pesto –as it is original of this region– in pasta, pizza, alone or wherever.
RISTORANTE BELFORTE –Vernazza-
The first restaurant I would recommend is this little gem in Vernazza, located at the top of a cliff has one of the best views of the Ligurian coastline and one of the best meals. Here is where you can enjoy traditional cuisine from the region; the prices are a bit high but totally worth every penny. I totally recommend the Squid ink tagliolini with shrimps and seaweed, the trofie with pesto, and of course, any of their fresh fish grilled plates.
DA ERALDO -Monterosso-
This little restaurant has the most impressive antipasto board I ever had; accompanied with a great white wine will be the perfect casual dining.
NESSUN DORMA –Manarola-
This restaurant, besides to offer classics such as bruschetta, focaccia sandwiches and antipasto boards, has the most pretty views overlooking Manarola, and I would dare to say the bests in Cinque Terre.
GELATERIA VERNAZZA –Vernazza-
You can’t leave Italy without eating gelato before. This is the most authentic gelateria in Cinque Terre, made with all natural and organic ingredients.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a lot of hotels, guest houses and Airbnb apartments in each of the towns at reasonable prices. The more affordable prices tend to be in Monterosso, as it is the biggest one, but less scenic than the others.
The only luxury hotel in Cinque Terre is Porto Roca, located at the top of a cliff that spoils guests with breathtaking views over Monterosso and the sea.