Cinque Terre Walking Adventures – A Revitalizing Vacation In Italy!
Located in Northern Italy, the 5 fishing villages of Cinque Terre have become a prime location for tourists who love adventure in the midst of bewitching natural beauty. The Cinque Terre, literally translation means “The Five Lands”, and is part of the Italian Riviera. This rugged coastline is known for the beautiful vistas, and walking trails that connect five ancient fishing villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The villages, the coastline and the surrounding hillsides are now officially classified as the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre (Cinque Terre National Park) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The villages remain tiny and relatively undeveloped, as compared to other resort towns on both the Italian and French coastlines. Even today, the very nature of the steep terrain and rocky cliffs along the coast have prevented a road connecting all five villages.
The Cinque Terre National Park was established in 1999. The mission of the park is to protect the marine coastline and preserve a way of life that has existed for centuries. The coastline has been inhabited for generations. There is documentation that terracing of the land began as early as 1000 A.D.. The steep hills are layered with micro farms producing grapes, olives and vegetables.
This incredible area receives approximately 2 million tourists annually. The heavy visitor months are April through October. Hiking is not recommended in other months. The off-season weather can be unpleasant, the walking paths possibly dangerous and many hotels and restaurants are closed. Visitors can reach the villages by train, boats (in season), eco-friendly buses or of course by foot. Travellers must purchase an official Park Pass and train ticket to access the villages. We found that although there is information available on multiple websites, the content is not always current. By default, we discovered that a travellers’ best bet is to go to a tourist office, to confirm the most accurate information.
Why Should You Opt for One of Hiking Best Organized Tours in the World – The Cinque Terre?
The Cinque Terre Towns
All the towns incline down to sea level aside from Corniglia, which is roosted on top of a tall cliff. Four of the towns have an old-world appeal (from North-to-South: Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore). The northern-most town, Monterosso, is totally distinctive. It is exceptionally beachy-resorty, with very little to see past the promenade separated from present day flat squares and inns not at all like the narrow, warped lanes of alternate towns, lined with bright old houses stacked indiscriminately on top of one another.
It is important to note that, except for the new part of Monterosso, the boulevards in all the towns climb steeply from the harbours/train stations and are truly a test assuming that you are carrying things. Additionally, while all the towns have railway stations, mainline trains going through the Cinque Terre just stop in Monterosso station.
Cinque Terre Highlights
It’s totally enchanting – This is a place that pictures really do equity to as in Cinque Terre conveys on them. If you are going to Corniglia on the topmost ridge or Manarola’s beautiful town square you will continually need to squeeze yourself to verify you’re not day dreaming.
The building colors are bright blues, pinks, reds, greens, yellows and more. In true Italian style the buildings in each town are stacked and packed all with their own little harbor and fishing boats on one side and lush mountain cliffs and vineyards on the other side. A must see for the artist, photographer, or anyone wanting to enjoy the beauty of these 5 towns.
The people are super welcoming and friendly – Whether its requesting directions or halting in for a brisk limoncello there is dependably a local prepared to chat, even with the dialect obstruction. You’d be astounded how individuals can impart over the widespread dialect of drinking wine and consuming bruschetta.
Ligurian seafood will take your breath away – Like all of Italy the food is awesome, however regarding the matter of seafood the individuals of the Ligurian area thump it out of the park. It is straight from the ocean to your plate and will blow your mind, particularly the anchovies which the region is known for.
With a number of fantastic restaurants, seafood lovers are in luck in The Five Lands. The main Monterosso specialty are its anchovies, which are prepared in a variety of different ways. Two common ways to prepare the shiny silver fish are to stuff them with bread, aromatic herbs, and Parmesan and fry them or to marinate them in lemon juice. But the most common way to prepare anchovies in the Cinque Terre is to bake them with potatoes, tomatoes, oregano and olive oil. Anchovy salads are also prevalent.
Other local foods include pesto, focaccia, and olives. And there is no shortage of locally produced alcoholic beverages. Various wines, grappas, and limoncellos are made in the area. The best place to buy the best wines that the region has to offer by the glass is Pie de Ma Wine Bar, located on the Via Dell’Amore. Not only does this establishment offer an excellent wine assortment, it also sports a fantastic ocean view from its cliff-perched open air terrace.
The Cinque Terre is the place to come to forget about the modern world and enjoy the finer things in life.
Off The Beaten Path – Aside from being so beautiful, Cinque Terre is off the beaten path in more than one way. These towns are literally cut off from roads. There are parking sites you can use to get close and walk into the towns, but no tour buses or droves of drivers can or do come to these amazing places. The only way around each town is to walk and there are trains that stop at each town as well as a hiking trail if you choose to walk to each little city. Another way they keep from being overwhelmed is that the villas and hotels are truly Italian in style and comfort. You won’t find those who only enjoy night life, soft pillows and many extra amenities here, just peace and quiet of very small groups, and adventurous solo travelers.
Unesco World Heritage Site – Being a Unesco World Heritage Site means that no new buildings can be built and each town is protected from modernization. A blast from the past, these centuries old places hold unique culture, pride and beauty from a time long, long ago. The people who live here are from a long line of families that have lived here from the beginning. They are Italian through and through. The people are not the only part of this amazing place, but the buildings themselves show just how amazing it was to live in the world during this time. A time travel tunnel back to when people sustained themselves on the land and sea around them.
Navigating The Cinque Terre Villages
For as long as Cinque Terre has been inhabited, i sentieri, the paths, have been the transportation route among the villages. Other than by boat, this was the only connection among the villages, whether for trade of foods and goods, or for the locals to get to the vineyards and farms. These paths have become beloved, well maintained hiking trails. Ranging from a paved section along the sea to narrow and steep trails amid trees and vineyards, there is something for everyone to share in the past of Cinque Terre.
Starting off at Corniglia
One of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, Corniglia is a popular spot among tourists as a starting point for walking tours. The little village is located atop a hundred meter high promontory, and is surrounded by vineyards and terraces on three sides. The fourth side descends down to the emerald blue Mediterranean Sea! A steep flight of stairs needs to be climbed to reach Corniglia if one is on foot; alternatively, a vehicular road is also available. Corniglia’s natural beauty is such that one is reminded of a faraway place from a fairy tale; an ideal location to start off walking tours throughout the 5 villages of Cinque Terre.
Walking from Riomaggiore to Monterosso
Each village is located within a few miles of each other, and thus, one can easily choose among the various trails available in the region. The walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, two villages located within Cinque Terre, is renowned for the breathtaking views that one encounters while walking. Revel in the amazing views of picturesque vineyards, terraced hills, and the deep blue sea down below! The mosaic of all 5 villages can be viewed from the trail, making for a glorious view. As one keeps climbing, the beauty of the place climaxes up to truly serene spots by the end.
Dropping by Manarola
Easily reachable on foot or by train from any of the 5 villages, Manarola is one of the oldest towns in Cinque Terre. If you plan to walk to or from here, an invigorating hiking trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola is available. The trail has gained quite a bit of fame due to the exotic views it offers from above, and is often referred to as ‘Love’s Trail’. The village is quite colorful in itself, if you plan on staying here, with various attractions such as the fishing centers, and of course, the delightful wines! Sciacchetrà, the local wine of Manarola is ancient by all counts and is renowned throughout the world. Roman writings even contain references to the high quality wine being produced in the region!
Attached to the train station found in Manarola by a 200-yard tunnel, the little town spills down a ravine to the wild and rugged coastline of the Ligurian sea.
On the west side of Manarola, you’ll find a wild little harbor, while the east side has a small church square where townsmen have met for centuries for important meetings and activities. And as most of the hamlets found in Cinque Terre, there are vineyards everywhere – hundreds of years old and carefully crafted with local stone stacked to make beautiful terraces. In fact, you’ll need to set time aside to take the Manarola Vineyard walk.
The tiny harbor at Manarola has a small boat ramp, picturesque buildings tripping down the ravine and the town’s main swimming hole. Although no real beach is available for dozing in the sun, it does boast as having some of the best deep-water swimming around. You’ll find a ladder that will take you up the rocks and at the top a shower is provided for those who love a little adventuresome swimming.
Piazza Capellini, the town square, was built in 2004 and gives the residents and their guests a fun place for kids and adults alike to hang out. It also offers a respite from the noise of the incoming trains – peace and quiet and a place to sit and contemplate life.
And for those who love art, you’ll enjoy looking at the mosaics created by local artists of the indigenous fish – a great place to sit down and eat a snack or a picnic lunch.
If you want to venture up to the top of Manarola, make sure you check out the church. Today it serves as a religious and community meeting place, but in more ancient times, the bell tower was used as a post to watch for potential pirate raids. Read more about this on our history page.
And if you are on a budget, check out the very well-run youth hostel that is located directly behind the church. It’s the only youth hostel you’ll find in Cinque Terre.
As mentioned before, no visit to this charming village is complete without doing the Manarola Vineyard Walk. It eventually leads you to the trail that takes you to the next town, Corniglia.
While walking tours throughout the 5 villages of Cinque Terre might not be everyone’s idea of a delightful vacation, but those who are full of zest and want an adventurous vacation are bound to fall in love with the scenic hiking trips in Cinque Terre! Enjoy your vacation in Italy this year!
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