Cinque Terre is a specific area of Italy located on Liguria’s coast. Actually Cinque Terre is the name of a National Park that includes the five villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
These small ancient fishermen villages are unique and picturesque, each with its own peculiarities and beauty. The area is also famous for its many trekking paths that link one village to the next, the most known one is Via dell’amore (Path of love) between Riomaggiore and Manarola. A bit more of one kilometer of incredible views and breathtaking landscape overlooking the sea.
Let’s get practical and see what you can do (actually what we have done) in a weekend around this area.
First of all, be aware that the villages are very small and narrow, therefore consider that if you visit during the weekends or in peak season the situation is extremely crowded. We visited during Easter weekend and there really was a lot of people. If you don’t mind, just be aware that you may have to wait for a table ( some places do not accept you if you don’t reserve it earlier), have hard time finding accommodation and have to wait in line to find park or get on the train.
We started our visit just outside the park, in the marvelous village of Porto Venere. We strongly suggest you to have a stop there as it really is beautiful. The splendid church on top of the cliff that overlooks and seems to control the sea is amazing.
After an afternoon spent in Porto Venere we left towards Manarola, where we also slept. If you move with the car, you’ll have to park at the end of the road at a public parking and then walk down to the village for a kilometer. The sloping street gets less nice when you will have to go back to your car, but all villages in Cinque Terre are clinged to the hills, so get used to walk and being comfortable shoes.
We spent the late afternoon in Manarola as well as some hours next morning before leaving for Vernazza with the train. We strongly suggest you to move around with the train and leave the car as it is quicker and easier. It will take you from 5 to 15 minutes to go between the villages depending on where you want to go, so it’s definitely the best way to reach each of them. Tickets cost 4 euros per person, per way. Take a good note that if you are visiting during high season, the train will be so packed you may have hard time to get on it, but there are so many you may have to wait some minutes for the next one. Try to get up early in the morning as usually it is less crowded.
As the villages are quite small, we decided to spend the morning in Vernazza and the afternoon in Corniglia. We have to add that the train stations in Vernazza and Manarola are close to the villages center, while in Corniglia you have to walk 30 minutes and go up the hill with a stair to reach the village, so consider also these details before deciding what to see. However despite the effort to climb the hill under the sun, the small village is very nice and allows you a splendid and higher view of the coast.
Take in good consideration that those locations are not plain, every street is sloping so exploring them is not easy as it may seem, but is definitely worth it. La Spezia is very near the area and well connected with several trains per hour, so may be a good base to explore the park if you don’t find accommodation there or it is too expensive.