Cinque Terre Italy, which means Five Lands, comprises of five small beautiful coastal villages named Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. It is believed that the Italian Riviera, despite its rugged coastlines, has some idyllic villages and the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre, Italy is the most notable one. But these five hamlets are no longer in the category of being among the isolated settlements as they were once. With a slight touch of modernity, these hamlets still preserve the essential features that make them picturesque like their remote authenticity, perfect architecture, and a remarkable trail of mountains and coastlines.
1. Best Attractions Of Cinque Terre
The five main attractions of Cinque Terre- Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso serve as the leading tourist destination of this place. Let us have a look at the tourist destinations these places have in store situated from south to north and also the things to do in Cinque Terre:
It is the first stop when one is on tour to the Cinque Terre, Italy. The buildings are all located on a steep ravine that runs to a small harbor. The sunset view looks best when viewed from the seaside. There are a botanical garden and a bird watching center that is situated on the rocky promontory on the hill from the pebbly beach. The day time can be experienced with the chiming of bell towers while at night one can view boats going night fishing for anchovies or similar kinds. The two main attractions of this place are:
- Fossola Beach: This small beach covered with pebbles is quite rugged and delightfully secluded towards the southeast of Riomaggiore marina. Swimmers must be cautious of the currents here.
- Torre Guardiola: This place helps all tourists to experience its birdlife and local flora and is placed on the east of Riomaggiore. This building was a naval installation in World War II.
Getting To Riomaggiore
One needs to take the regional train from the Sestri Levante – La Spezia Centrale Line or one can also hike from the Manarola on the Via Del Amore.
What To Eat In Riomaggiore
The Tegame di acciughe alla Vernazza is the local specialty of Riomaggiore that comprises of baked anchovies, potatoes, herbs and a fresh layer of chopped tomatoes. Also, never miss the sweet Sciacchetra wine which is believed to be the native of this place.
Where To Stay In Riomaggiore
If you are planning a stay at Riomaggiore, you can check out the following visits depending on your budget:
- Viadeibanchi: This is located on the main street and is quite a budget hotel.
- Alla Marina Affittacamere: This is a mid-range budget hotel situated near to the Riomaggiore’s harbor that also offers a stunning view of the Ligurian Sea. The rooms are around USD 100 per night.
When you get to the Manarola, you will find that this place has an abundance of grapevines. The busy streets and the waterfront promenade are lined with fishing boats that give this place a typical village look. The Punta Bonfiglio is an uphill hike that provides outstanding views of this place form the top. This fairy tale destination sits along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Groppa River and is one of the smallest of the five towns that make Cinque Terre, Italy.
Places To See In Manarola
Manarola has a few monuments that are admired as beautiful pieces of art by its tourists. The destinations are the following:
- The Harbor: This rocky place is the place that sets the boats to sail and also offers a panoramic view of the town of Manarola.
- Disciplinati Of Manorola: Here one can get the view of the XV century oratory of the Disciplinati of the Santissima Annunziata.
- Church Of San Lorenzo: The construction of this church was started in 1338 that stands testified by a cornerstone. The church has a bell tower that acted as an ancient defensive building.
- The Bastion Or The Castle: The Manarola’s coast was often invaded by pirates who left only a part of the remains of the bastion. This bastion that dates back to the 13th century is now incorporated in the modern building that clings to the coast overlooking the sea.
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Getting To The Manarola
Arriving by car to Manarola is highly discouraged because the village has restricted parking space. If that is still your choice, you can take the A12 and the exit at Santo Stefano di Magra in the La Spezia direction. In fact, at Manarola, a traffic bar comes on the path that prevents from further going down to the village. There is a paid parking option and space on the right of this traffic bar that charges around £25 per day.
But the best option to get to Manarola is by train that starts from La Spezia or Levanto.
This is the only village in Cinque Terre, Italy that has no direct access to the sea as it is nestled on top of a 100m high rocky promontory that is surrounded by vineyards. The much-loved aspect of this place is its quiet filed streets that lead to a stormy sea facing terrace, the point from where one can view and photograph all the five villages at once. This place is quite small and quiet where one can have the Bar Nunzio serve two euro glasses of local wine.
Places To See In Corniglia
- Lardarina: One will surely get a spectacular view if one attempts a climb to the top of Corniglia and crystal clear water, deserted streets, and beaches. This place is a steep climb to the top, but the view it offers after the arduous climb is all worth it.
- Church Of St.Peter: This church is located in the main square of Corniglia that has been designed in the typical Baroque style. The church also has some Gothic and Liguria elements that date back to the 14th century and also a Carrara white marble rose window. The patron saint named San Pietro’s Day is celebrated on June 29th where one can enjoy the festivities with some local specialty food.
- Saint Mary’s Terrace: This point is reachable by foot by following the Via Fieschi.
- Oratorio Dei Disciplinati Di Santa Caterina: This 18th century Oratory graces the tiny Piazzetta Largo Taragio which has its interior ceiling painted to resemble the sky.
- One can also spend the evening by having wine along the street that lies below the train station and beside the hotel Gianni that overlooks the sea.
This Blue trail that is the next town after Corniglia to the north is a path that starts from the olive grove. It is quite a tiring journey because of its steepness. The trail along the sea provides some excellent views of both Corniglia and Manarola and also one can come across the hamlet of Vernazza called Prevo. This again acts as an impressive spot of Cinque Terre, Italy as it overlooks the Guvano Beach. Vernazza is a maze of streets that may seem a little rundown at first sight. But the town is quite lively and boisterous that also provides some excellent nightlife. This place has two clock towers, a beach, boats and a space decked up with umbrellas and tables for providing its tourists and the locals with the perfect beach time.
Things To Do In Vernazza
- Hiking: Hiking is the most sought after activity in Vernazza because it connects the town with the other cities that are situated along the coast. Hiking in Vernazza is so popular that many tourists flock around this pretty town, thereby making it one of the best activities of this place.
- The Beach: Vernazza has the prettiest beach among the rest of the Cinque Terre, Italy towns and is just perfect for spending a sunny day. The beach is entirely open to the public with no arrangements for hiring beach chairs or umbrellas. The best option is to select the available spot on the beach and enjoy the sea and the sun. It is also known as the best Cinque Terre beach.
- Doria Castle Tower: This tower makes Vernazza have a picturesque beauty that sits on the promontory overlooking the harbor. This tower was built in the 11th century to protect the town from the pirates but now serves as a beautiful attraction of Vernazza.
- Boat Tours: There are arrangements for taking a boat tour if one wishes to between the connecting towns of Vernazza. One can even have a view of the beautiful cliffs during this boat tour.
- Wine Tasting: there are many vineyards along the cliffs of Vernazza, and so wine tasting is a must at this place. The best-known wine is called the sciacchetra that is sweet and is often drunk with biscotti for an afternoon snack. Any of the wine shops, called Enoteca in the local language, in Vernazza can give you a taste of their entirely made wines.
- Church Of Santa Margherita D’antiochia: As the exact date of this church’s erection is not known, yet it can be said that this church is as old as the 11th century. There were some architectural changes made during the 17th and 18th centuries. The bell tower and pretty tiled dome are the major attractions of this church.
This is two towns that are connected by a short road tunnel and is now known as the Old Monterosso and the New Monterosso. The new town development has a large sandy beach that is decked up with many colorful umbrellas, beachside restaurants, and café. While on the other hand, the old part of Monterosso is just like the other Cinque Terre, Italy towns. The end of this place’s beach has quite a big statue that cannot be missed for taking a view. This charming village has many bars and restaurants lined up in its streets, and if one is ready to walk up some extra stairs, one can take the back roads of Via Zuecca, Via Gioberti, Via Milite Ignoto and Via Buranco.
Places To Visit In Monterosso
- Torre Aurora and Chiesa di San Francesco: This 16th-century tower was once a part of the fortifications that were made to save this village form the pirates. One can go to the 17th century San Francisco church from here and also to the monastery of the Capucines that is on top of the hill. On the way, one can see the excellent view of the other four villages, namely Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, from a distance.
- Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista: This church dates back to the 14th century that has striped marble façade, a 1300 baptismal font and various other paintings. The altar was added later in the year 1734.
- Oratorio Mortis et Orationis: This is like an orphanage home that has its origin in the 17th century and provided shelter to the widows, orphans and castaways.
- Oratorio Santa Croce: It is said that the white brothers of the Santa Croce church dressed in white robes and ran the Monterosso hospital by attending the sick.
- Monterosso is also known for its beaches and hiking: The beach of this place is a small narrow strip of land that is filled with gravel. The most significant part of the beach is not quite freely accessible, and one can use the beach only after renting an umbrella or a sunbed. The public beach is not well maintained and looks less attractive too.
There are many hiking trails in the protected nature park of Cinque Terre. The best-known trail is named the Sentiero Azzuro that runs along the coast and connects the five villages. One needs to buy a Cinque Terre card to have a hiking experience through this trail.
2. How To Reach Monterosso?
Monterosso can be reached by car through the SP 38. One cannot enter the village by car, and there is a parking facility made available in the northern part of the Tourist Information.
Traveling by train is quite convenient and the best option here. As every village has rail connectivity, one can reach Monterosso within 3 hours from Florence. There is also a direct train from Florence on a Sunday morning.
There are ferries between the five villages and also in the further southern part of Porto Venere. The boats stop in all the towns except in the Corniglia as there is an absence of a harbor here.
3. Best Season For Visiting The Cinque Terre
As for Cinque Terre, Italy is known for its beaches and hiking, it is, therefore, advisable to avoid this place during the winter months and the rainy season as the trails are not always accessible during these seasons. The best time to experience the sea of Cinque Terre, Italy is from mid-May to mid-September. Hiking starts from mid-March to mid-October.
The month of December gathers a lot of tourist attraction in Cinque Terre because of the celebration of Presepe of Christmas, which is believed to be the biggest celebration in the world. But the peak holiday season is the month of August especially on the week that has the date 15 in it. This week becomes triple times expensive than the usual times.
Let us take a close look at the seasonal conditions and the tourist activities one can do in the Cinque Terre monthly:
Pros: Time for celebrating the biggest Presepe that opens in Manarola.
Cons: Temperature is quite low at this time with frequent rainfall.
Cons: The temperature conditions is just the same as January
Pros: The second half of March witnesses the maritime activities
Cons: As most paths still face the winter precipitation, that is why they remain closed.
Pros: Ideal time for hiking
Cons: Sea water is still cold
Pros: Ideal time for hiking
Cons: The water is still not quite warm
June and July
Pros: Best time for hiking and swimming in the sea.
Pros: The hottest month of the year
Cons: This time is boiling, the most expensive month for holidaying here; especially the week that has the 15th day.
Pros: Best time for hiking and swimming
Cons: as the rains start, most of the hiking trails are closed.
Cons: The temperature is quite low with some frequent rainfall.
Pros: The biggest Presepe opens in Manarola
Cons: Temperature is quite low with chilly weather and frequent rainfall.
4. The Nativity Scene In Manarola – Presepe
Christmas is celebrated everywhere with different traditions of recalling the birth of Jesus Christ. In the modern era, a permanent Nativity is created that contains an abundance of statuettes, decorations, and Christmas lights. This is mainly celebrated in quite a great way in Manarola, a village in the Cinque Terre, Italy. The Christmas celebration is called Presepe here that takes place on the day of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th of December. The Christmas market starts attracting the attention of tourists from early morning. Towards the evening, around 5.30 PM, one can get to see the fireworks and lights of the Presepe.
The Presepe is celebrated from the 8th of December because this day is a public holiday and the people are all busy 5. on this day in decking up their Christmas trees at their homes. The Presepe can be best viewed from Manarola as the presence here offers a pleasant sight. In Manarola, there are three small viewing areas located at different levels. One needs to climb 170, 250, or 320 steps to get to the top.
The first Presepe made its appearance in Manarola in 2007 after the thirty years of effort by a local railways worker named Mario Andreoli. He had set up the Nativity scene over the entire hill of Manarola by using bulbs along with electric cables with the figures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, angels. Stars and many such other characters involved in the story of the birth of Jesus. There are a total of 300 statues, and recently, the Presepe of Manarola uses ecologically clean energy for its lighting.
The Nativity scene will take place from the 8th of December 2019 to 2nd of February 2020.
5. How To Get To Cinque Terre?
The closest airports to Cinque Terre, Italy are the Pisa and Genova while Firenze can also be the right choice for traveling by air. This is quite the best way to visit Cinque Terre. Milan’s Malpensa International Airport acts as an excellent intercontinental hub for the Italian airline Alitalia, but one needs to take a bus to the railway station from the Malpensa Airport. Also, functional airline connectivity is available from North America through large hubs like New York City, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. The Delta Airlines operates quite well from Atlanta via the JFK International Airport to the Pisa’s Galileo Galilei International Airport.
NOTE: Do not book a ticket from the ticket machine for Trenitalia at the Genoa Airport to get to the La Spezia. Instead, take the Volabus to the Genoa Brignole station and then buy a ticket. In this aspect, the website of Trenitalia is quite helpful to plan this journey as the signages are all written in the Italian language, and the people around the airport are not too kind.
If you want to know how to get to Cinque Terre other than availing the airways you must know that every village of Cinque Terre is well connected through a railway network too. Regular local trains are available from Genova and La Spezia that runs with high frequency. All passengers are operated with the help of the state carrier Trenitalia. Passes can be bought from La Spezia for Cinque Terre.
If you are coming from La Spezia, take the ‘Litoranea’ road that is numbered the A370. It takes around half an hour from La Spezia to drive to the villages of Cinque Terre, Italy. There is a garage in the uphill of the train station in Riomaggiore and Monterosso. But traveling in a car is not quite the right decision to view the Cinque Terre.
6. Where To Stay In Cinque Terre?
Accommodation facilities in Cinque Terre, Italy are quite expensive and sometimes an unremarkable experience. Below are some excellent options that one can avail when on holiday at this location:
The best place to stay in Cinque Terre are the budget hotels like La Mala in Vernazza, the beachfront Hotel La Spiaggia in Monterosso, the recent Hotel Marina Piccola and the super cheap Ostello 5 Terre are some of the options for stay here. If you are looking for a 5-star experience, then La Torretta Charme and Relax can be the right choice as it has the best luxurious and decorative rooms.
If one chooses to be on a day trip to the Cinque Terre Italy then the La Spezia is quite an excellent option to stay at that has hotels like the Hotel Firenze e Continentale, Hotel Crismar, Hotel Florida Lerici and Hotel Aurora.
There are campgrounds too that are available at an exceedingly low price where one can rent a tent with two beds. It is advisable to not to try for wild camping as it is illegal and can be dangerous too due to the presence of wild boars. The campgrounds are:
Camping Aqua Dolce that is situated near the town area about 200 meters from the beach.
Pian di Picce and Albero ‘d Oro that is situated a bit on the island but is quite close to the railway station.
These places are quite good ones and will act as a guide to where to stay in Cinque Terre.
7. Available Foods In Cinque Terre
As the villages of Cinque Terre, Italy have an abundance of grapevines and olives covering the hillsides, wine and oil is a must at all tables. They taste the best when devoured with salted anchovies, which is the authentic gastronomic delight. Other local specialties are the Trofie- a kind of pasta made from chestnut or wheat flour, Pesto sauce- an original Ligurian sauce made from basil leaves, Tagliatelle- a homemade pasta that contains mushrooms, cabbage, potatoes, and even pesto. The vegetable pies or ‘Torte di Verdura’ is also a local dish that is stuffed with borage, parsley, marjoram, and other local herbs. The other famous dish is the grandma special named Torta di Roso or the Rice Pie that is specially prepared during the fest of the patron Saint Lawrence on the 10th of August. Other specialties are the egg Frittata, Mussels, Farinata, and the Pizzeria Fratelli Basso.
8. Best Restaurants Of Cinque Terre
In the Cinque Terre if you want a place for fine dining then visit:
- Ristorante Miky, Torre Aurora Mare Cucina, Belforte and Porto Roca
For local cuisine one can enter:
- Osteria Tumelin, Nessun DormaCinque Terre, Cappun Magru and Da Eraldo
Some of the moderate priced restaurants in this area are:
- Osteria Tumelin, Vernazza Wine experience, Enoteca da Eliseo and La Cantina del Macellaio
Some cheap eats are:
- Kepris Pizzeria, Pan e Vin Bar, Bocconcino and Frantoio
9. Cinque Terre Travel Tips
- Carry a refillable water bottle so you can fill it from the fountains available in every village.
- The Friggitoria is the authentic takeaway snack
- Having the Cinque Terre DOC wine is a must as it is dry and aromatic and buying this drink means you are supporting the local vignerons.
- Come in May to September to go for hiking and also to avoid the heat.
- One needs to buy a pass to walk along the trails between the villages, which are available at the information office near the railway stations of any five villages of Cinque Terre.
10. Some Other Attractions Of Cinque Terre
- Visit Cinque Terre, Italy in December and late January to experience the world’s biggest lighted Nativity in Manarola
- Visit between late May and August to experience the patron festivity of the five towns
- The midsummer celebrates the triumphant victory from the Saracen attack; the pirates attack in Vernazza
- Early to mid-September is the harvest festival of winemaking
11. The Best Hiking Times In Cinque Terre
The hiking times given below are assumed with the possibility that a person is completely fit for this activity. A slow walker should take more time than the duration specified below:
- Monterosso To Vernazza: this hiking takes 120 minutes and is open from June. It requires a trail permit that can be obtained from the trailhead.
- Vernazza To Corniglia: This 90 minutes trail is open from July and also requires a hiking permit. This trail offers some fantastic views of Vernazza.
- Corniglia To Manarola: This trail does not require a permit. The trail no.6 is open, and it is a 45 minutes hiking route.
- Manarola: It has its beautiful vineyard walk.
- Manarola To Riomaggiore: This is a 20 minutes trail that opens in August.
Also Read – Venice Attractions: Things To Do In Venice Italy
12. Frequently Asked Questions By Travellers
Q1: Where Is Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre is a coastal area within Liguria situated in the northwest of Italy. It lies in the western part of La Spezia and comprises of five villages namely Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Q2: Which Is The Best City To Stay In Cinque Terre?
Riomaggiore is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre through the other villages also gives an enjoyable experience to every traveler.
Q3: How Many Days Do You Need In Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre’s beauty can be experienced within one full day as the fastest way to get around its villages is by train.
Q4: Can One Drive In Cinque Terre?
It is possible to travel by car in Cinque Terre, but the parking space is wholly restricted for the locals. Thereby the best option for visiting Cinque Terre is by train or by local boats.
Q5: How Far Is Cinque Terre From Tuscany?
A car drive from Cinque Terre to Tuscany takes around 2hrs 7 minutes. But the best way to travel is by a train operated by the Trenitalia and arrives at the Firenze Smn station.
Q6: How Often Do Trains Run In Cinque Terre?
There are trains every four times an hour running on the line La Spezia-Cinque Terre- Levanto. For traveling, buy a Cinque Terre card as it includes unlimited train runs on this route.
Q7: How Long Does It Take To Hike Cinque Terre?
The hiking in Cinque Terre can be completed within 6 hours though many hikers consider a longer time so that the route can be spread out over a few days at a strolling space.
Q8: Can You Swim In Cinque Terre?
One can swim in the Cinque Terre, but the best experience can be felt by renting a boat from Manarola.
Q9: What Is The Cinque Terre Card And What Does It Include?
This card is a card for the visitors that allow them to take rides on trains while visiting the villages of Cinque Terre, for visiting several museums, riding the eco-friendly bus and also for the hiking experience of Cinque Terre. This card can be bought from any Cinque Terre Info Point from Levanto to La Spezia. The map includes the following benefits:
- Access to Cinque Terre express trains except for IC, ICN, FB
- Access to National Park paying paths
- Guided tours of the Cinque Terre Walking Park
- Use of the bus service that is run by ATC within the villages of Cinque Terre
- Free toilets of the communities
- Center Laboratories For Environmental Education Park
- Free wi-fi in the park
- Entrance to the Civic Museums of La Spezia
Q10: How Do I Get From Venice To Cinque Terre?
This is a two-stop journey where one starts from Venezia Santa Lucia Station to Firenze Santa Maria Novella in Florence, next to the Pisa Centrale and then finally to Cinque Terre.
Q11: Can You Do A Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre?
Yes, it is possible to travel to Cinque Terre from Florence in a day by the grand tour bus that acts as a better option than a train.
Q 12: Is Cinque Terre Closer To Rome Or Florence?
Cinque Terre is closer to Florence than Rome. The time taken to travel from Florence to Cinque Terre is 2.5-3 hours. The time taken from traveling from Rome to Cinque Terre, Italy is around 3.5 hours
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