The names of the petite Italian Cinque Terre towns probably will not ring a bell, but if a picture of this heavenly place pops before your eyes, you will most likely wonder where the location is and afterward put it down on your travel wish list. Those setting off on Italy tours should consider saving a day or two for exploring these precious destinations, and in this overview, you can learn more about the villages and what to expect from such a trip.
It may come as a surprise but the colorful Italian Cinque Terre villages perched high up on cliffs appeared on the travel radar of many globetrotters not that long ago. Perhaps, this is in large due to the fact that this destination is not that easy to reach: there are no direct trains from major cities and the closest airports are in Genoa or Florence. The best case scenario would be reaching the town of La Spezia and then continuing your journey on car along winding picture perfect roads for about another hour or hopping on the so-called “Cinque Terre Express”. But those who have been to Cinque Terre at least once say that it was totally and completely worth the ride.
The atmosphere of a place hardly touched by time is amongst the main reasons why people choose to visit Cinque Terre, Italy. Despite the fact that Italy is a modern and developed country (the most visited one by tourists in the world, by the way) these small villages boast over 500 years of history and have actually managed to preserve the authentic feel of their tiny winding old streets, buildings, and in part the traditional lifestyle of the fishing villages they actually are, unspoiled by the flow of tourists.
A total of five historic villages, set in the glorious surroundings of crystal blue waters of the Italian Riviera, make up the Cinque Terre, hence the Italian word “cinque”, meaning five, is in the name of the region. There is even a very old footpath with numerous viewpoints that connects all five villages and provides awesome photo opportunities. It is very hard to say which of the five: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, or Riomaggiore is the most breathtaking or interesting one to visit on tours to Italy, as each of them is unique in its own special way. So, let us take a closer look.
Also called Monterosso al Mare, this Cinque Terre village is the northernmost one, located closest to Genoa. It is actually a multi-title holder: it is the biggest of the five villages, the oldest and most visited one, and to top it all it has the nicest fully fledged beach line. Among the top things to see in Monterosso is first and foremostly its old town which has remnants of the old castle, the Aurora Tower, the San Giovanni Battista Church, the Capuchin Monastery, and the Statue of the Giant in honor of Neptune.
Charming little Vernazza with its small port, adorable harbor, and narrow cliff, stretching into the sea with closely standing colorful buildings, is arguably the most gorgeous Cinque Terre village. Here do not miss out on the 11th Century Doria Castle, Piazza Marconi, and the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia that was built in the 1310’s.
The central Cinque Terre village also has a special vibe. Corniglia dates all the way back to Roman times. It’s the only one of the villages that cannot be reached from the water side and you can get here by the footpath after going up a large number of stairs. The main peculiarity of the village that travelers point out is its wonderful vineyards, plus when in Corniglia check out the Oratory Santa Caterina and its historic well, as well as the church of Saint Peter, erected in 1334.
Often called the most romantic Cinque Terre village, Manarola delights with its views. The town has an almost miniature piazza where you can find shops and restaurants, serving local seafood delicacies and delicious signature wine that is produced here. The Church of San Lorenzo, the Bastion, and the Disciplinati Oratory are the main attractions.
Last but not least is Riomaggiore, set closest to La Spezia and connected to Manarola by the famous romantic path called “Via dell’Amore”. Apart from the medieval streets of the village, called carrugi, there is the well-preserved Castle of Riomaggiore, the Madonna di Montenero Sanctuary, and the San Rocco Church worth seeing.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre towns are at their best in the warmer months of the year. For this reason, late fall and winter might not be the best time to visit Cinque Terre, as you most likely might encounter rainy weather. The biggest number of tourists come to this region in the summertime, specifically in July and August, so for a non-crowded and peaceful travel experience, it is better to travel in spring, early summer or early fall.
No matter what time of the year you choose to travel to Cinque Terre, you should keep in mind that although the area is popular among tourists, the tiny villages are not fully prepared to accommodate all of their guests. The thing is that there are not too many hotels in these towns, moreover, the hotels are not huge (some are designed for only about 20 guests), therefore the availability of places to stay precisely in Cinque Terre is always limited.
On the whole, Cinque Terre towns are a perfect place for a romantic getaway or even for a day trip to include to Italy tours. They are also home to presumably the best olives in Italy and are a real match for those who love to traverse the world on foot as there are endless hiking opportunities in the region. Not to mention a memorable must do when here — time provided go on a boat ride to fall in love with Cinque Terre views from water. Already packing your bags?