From the port of Vernazza the lights were sometimes broken from the growth of waves invisible to the depths of the night.

Eugenio Montale

Cinque Terre, Ligurian wonder

Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore: the magic names of Ligurian town best known as Cinque Terre, placed on coastal tract of Levante in province of La Spezia, long ca 10 km, included in a National Park and Unesco Heritage since 1997. Five little ancient fishing villages, characterized by colorful houses, clinging to the rocks, offering also beautiful little beaches and panoramic trails, unique in the world. 

Cinque Terre: what to see

Moving from Genoa, the first coming town is Monterosso al Mare, chanted by the poet Eugenio Montale, whom is dedicated a cultural park here. In Monterosso there is a castle, Aurora Tower on the sea cliffs, and San Giovanni Battista Church. From the top of the town you go down on the sea by “caruggi” (alleys), coming to Fegine beach, with sand and rocks.

Also Vernazza, the second town we find on our way, has got beautiful monuments like Santa Margherita of Antiochia Church (XII century) and, on the opposite side, Doria Castle and Belforte Bastion, overlooking the bay. 

Further ahead, you come to Corniglia, the only town not having direct access to the sea: to reach the town from rail station you have to deal with a hard staircase of 33 flights of steps with 377 steps. The labor will be rewarded with a wonderful overview, St. Peter’s Church, St. Katherine’s oratory of the Disciplinati, until a mouth-taking terrace on sea and Guvano beach.

Leaving Corniglia, you go on to Manarola, the most picturesque stage of the route, with its typical genovese “tower-houses”, pink and orange painted, terraced vineyards (here is produced the sweet Sciacchetrà wine), and the famous “Via dell’Amore” (Love’s way), a path that links Manarola to Riomaggiore. Unfortunately, a landslide in 2012 made it unfit for use; however, you can still travel about 200 mt from the rail station.

Last one, Riomaggiore, characterized by maze of medieval streets and a XIII th century castle built for defence against Saracen attack. Very beautiful also the little harbor and San Giovanni Battista’s Church.

Bonus track: Portovenere (The sixth land)

After Cinque Terre, you cannot miss Portovenere, “the sixth land”, as some people call it, but it worths a travel apart. The ancient maritime village, land of Longbard, Saracen, Northmen raids, is situated on the point of a land bridge that creates Gulf of La Spezia, as known as Poets Gulf. Here the famous poet George Byron loved to think and admire nature; to him is dedicated Arpaia Cave (Byron cave), situated near St Peter’s church, at the edge of the fortress, reachable by a stairway. It is the most enchanting and breathtaking of the entire town, especially if you will admire it from the little porch near the church. Don’t miss Doria castle too and the little Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto islands. 

How to reach Cinque Terre

To reach Cinque Terre by train take “5 Terre Express”, a special service from March to November, price 4 euros adults, 2 for children until 12 years old; purchasable online or directly in station, a race every 15 minute every day.

For trekking lovers, from Monterosso you go on Sentiero Azzurro, long 12 km to Riomaggiore, viable also by bike, even if difficult.

You can also reach Cinque Terre also by the sea, with a one day ticket ship: it costs 27 Euros, 35 if you go to Portovenere too. 

Warning: Cinque Terre are very busy from tourists already from May and in Liguria, you know, there is no space; come in quiet times, after summer for example, they are so beautiful places that never lose their charme.

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