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Jane’s Guide to the Cinque Terre

Jane’s Guide to the Cinque Terre





The five villages of Cinque Terre are perched precariously on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Recognized in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the colorful houses, terraced vineyards, and dramatic coastline create a breathtaking panorama that you simply must visit at some point in your life!


Cinque Terre is also a paradise for hikers, with numerous trails connecting the five villages. The most famous trail is the Sentiero Azzurro, known as the Blue Path, which offers stunning views of the coastline. It is also a car-free zone, making it a peaceful and relaxing place to escape the hustle of the bigger towns in Italy and to enjoy the true, slow pace of Bella Italia.


The rich history and culture dates back to the Middle Ages, so you can explore the ancient churches, castles, and other historical sites.


While you are there, you’ll want to be sure to visit each of the five villages -  Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore - to experience their unique charm and beauty.




Where to stay in the Cinque Terre


It’s hard to choose a “best” of the five towns. Everyone has their favorite, and so will you after you visit them all.


When booking your stay, consider factors like proximity to the train station or trailheads, sea views, and the overall ambiance that suits your preferences. Keep in mind that Cinque Terre is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons, so it's advisable to book your accommodation in advance to secure the best options. Additionally, some accommodations might require walking uphill or navigating narrow streets, so consider your mobility needs when making your choice.





Manarola


Manarola is one of the smaller towns. It has a great sunset viewing bar on a hill that is not to be missed even if you’re not staying there. Many of the guesthouses have incredible views of the sea.


For a family apartment stay in Manarola, La Lampara has sea views and a terrace! 


Or if you are on a romantic getaway, I recommend this luxury guesthouse




Monterosso al Mare


Monterosso al Mare is a slightly bigger village and offers the most extensive range of accommodations, including beachfront hotels and B&Bs. It can serve as a good base for exploring the other villages. It’s also a great place to stay if you like hanging out at the beach.


For a family, this beachfront apartment is a sure win. 


Here’s another apartment with a view that is more of a splurge but has more amenities. 







Riomaggiore


Stay in Riomaggiore for its quaint atmosphere and easy access to the hiking trails. The village has several charming guesthouses and small hotels.


This gorgeous luxury apartment is right near the sea and the train station, so it will serve as an excellent base to explore the rest of the Cinque Terre.


If you’re not planning to cook in, you might consider this more reasonable room with a terrace view. 





Vernazza


Stay in Vernazza if you prefer a more lively atmosphere, with a good selection of accommodations, including apartments and boutique hotels.


In Vernazza you have the option of renting out the actual Muin a Ventu Historical Tower, which would be pretty epic!


But your budget might thank you for this one bedroom apartment instead


Or even just a room with a view at Casa Catò


Corniglia


This village is perhaps the most quiet of the five towns and offers a few charming B&Bs and guesthouses. It's ideal for those seeking a peaceful retreat or if you’re trying to escape the hustle and bustle of high season. Also, it’s good to know that there are a lot of stairs between the train station and this town.


It’s all about the terraces in Cinque Terre, and this apartment has one that is hard to beat


But again, you might only need a room, so let the staff take care of you at Madüneta 5 Terre, a great hideaway in quiet Corniglia.






What to do in the Cinque Terre



Visit all five towns. 


Discover wines grown on steep hillsides. Walk through the vineyards and go on a wine tour.


Walk + Hike. Take the scenic coastal hike known as Sentiero Azzurro, which connects all five villages, offering breathtaking views of the coastline.





The Sentiero Azzurro, also known as the Blue Trail, is a famous hiking path that connects all five villages of Cinque Terre along the rugged coastline. Here's some essential information about hiking the Sentiero Azzurro. To access the trails, you'll need the Cinque Terre Card, which provides entry to the hiking paths, shuttle buses, and trains between the villages. There are different types of cards available based on the duration of your stay and the desired access to the trails.


Savor fresh seafood and regional dishes, such as pesto pasta, at local trattorias and restaurants.





Go for a swim. Spend some time on the beaches of Monterosso and Vernazza, perfect for sunbathing and swimming.


Take a boat ride. Explore the coast on a boat tour to see the villages from a different perspective and access secluded coves.


Watch the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea from one of the villages' viewpoints or from the water.


Visit the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. Hike up to this hilltop sanctuary for panoramic views of Vernazza and the surrounding area.








Visit Castello Doria. Explore the ancient castle in Vernazza, which offers panoramic views of the village and the sea.


Visit the Maritime Museum. Learn about the region's maritime history and fishing traditions at the Cinque Terre Maritime Museum in Riomaggiore.


Relax and enjoy the slow village life. Take the time to relax, soak in the coastal ambiance, and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle of Cinque Terre.



Where to eat in the Cinque Terre


Cinque Terre is renowned for its fresh seafood and delicious local cuisine. The region is famous for its pesto (invented locally!), made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Also be sure to try local wines, like Sciacchetrà and learn about the winemaking traditions of the region. I think the best way to find a good restaurant is to ask your host. There are too many restaurants to name, but here are just a few highlights. 


PIZZERIA KEPRIS is the best spot for pizza in Riomaggiore.


Fuori Rotta on Via Telemaco Signorini in Riomaggiore is an intimate, casually stylish trattoria with a patio, known for shellfish & classics like rabbit stew. 


Il Pirata delle 5 Terre on Via Gavino in Vernazza has amazing gnocchi and delicious desserts and pastries. You can also pop in here for coffee and a pastry in the morning.


Nessun Dorma at Località Punta Bonfiglio in Manarola serves bruschetta, meat & cheese platters, plus wine. It’s a place for a light bite, a glass of wine and an incredible view of the sunset.


Cappun Magru is a “don’t miss” spot perched high in Manarola with some of the best wine and seafood around.


Marina de Corniglia is another great bar with a view.


L’Osteria on Via Vittorio Emanuele in Monterosso al Mare has wonderful local seafood dishes and outdoor seating. It’s a great place for an afternoon lunch to watch the world go by.


Il Pescato Cucinato is where you stop in Riomaggiore to get your paper cone of fried seafood to take down by the sea.


Il Gattaccio - Acciugheria & Street Food is another casual spot in Vernazza for grabbing some seafood to go.


Ittiturismo Corniglia is a hidden gem where you are eating the food the owner caught that morning. It doesn’t get any fresher than this place. 






How to get to the Cinque Terre


All five towns have their own stops on the train line between La Spezia and Genoa. Use the trains to easily run back and forth between all five towns in addition to traveling to and from the Cinque Terre.


Pisa is the nearest major airport, but Milan is also easily accessible. 


If you’re visiting the Cinque Terre by car, be sure to ask about parking ahead of your arrival. You’ll probably have to park at the top of the town and walk down to your lodging.






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