Thursday calls for a throwback post. This one is going to take you to the most surreal place I have ever been to.
I had seen a lot of pictures of the Cinque Terre and it always looked like one of the most picturesque places on earth, so I simply had to visit these five small towns in Italy. They are situated in a North Italian region called ‘Liguria’. My boyfriend and I took the train from Zurich to Milan and then to La Spezia, a rather big seaport nearby, where we stayed at a b’n’b.
From our b’n’b host we learned that to reach the Cinque Terre, we would best take the train or hike from town to town. Since the whole area around the towns is a national park, it is rather difficult to go there by car. Also, we would have the possibility to buy a train card for the whole line between La Spezia and the most distant town of the Cinque Terre, allowing us to use the line all day and get off at every station we wanted. The price for this card was okay, but we decided to see all of the towns in one day in order to only having to pay it once.
First things first: the Cinque Terre really are as magnificent as all the pictures of them (but see yourself in the gallery below).
The names of the five towns are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
Riomaggiore was the first stop on our journey. Situated in a valley that reaches down to the sea, most of the houses are leaning against the hillside. There is a small landing place for boats surrounded by dark grey rocks which are typical for the area.
In Manarola we arrived sometime around noon, when it was so hot we had to get a cooling in form of a swim in the sea. There was a nice private beach we could easily reach by following a path out of town to a cove between the cliffs. Manarola itself was (if that’s at all possible) even more enchanting than Riomaggiore.
The only downside people warned us about was the huge mass of tourists that allegedly flooded the area and indeed you have to reckon that. Especially when one of those huge tourist cruisers arrived at the coast to bring their passengers a shore, there were sometimes too many people in one place for a moment. However, it was not as bad as I had imagined it and definitely not worse than in any other area that is popular with tourists.
Next we arrived at Corniglia, the only one of the five towns that is not seated directly at the seashore but on a hill. Therefore, we had to climb seemingly a thousand stairs to get from the train station into the heart of the town. The view over the coast was once again fantastic and Corniglia’s centre was full of cute coffee shops, bars and gelaterias (and they usually had the most amazing types of ice cream on offer). Of course, we rewarded ourselves with some Italian gelato when we arrived in the old town – after all the stairs-climbing… 🙂
As aforementioned, we always took the train to get from town to town, except from Corniglia to Vernazza. The hike that led from the former to the latter was simply gorgeous. A narrow path between vineyards and olive groves with an amazing view over the steep coast and the deep blue ocean. It was about one and a half hours before we caught sight of Vernazza. Even though it was too hot to hike and I wore sandals (the very worst of shoes for such an undertaking), it was so worth it. If you ever come to the Cinque Terre I strongly recommend you to also walk at least one of the routes between the towns.
In Vernazza, we hiked down the hill until we reached the beach and the main square of the town. There we had dinner in a lovely restaurant at the seafront. Very interesting to watch: The waiter filleted the fish right under the eyes of the guests who ordered it at the table next to us.
Last but not least we made our way to Monterosso. Here we found a great place to swim and snorkel between the massive cliffs. A promenade led from the train station along the coast and then through a tunnel into the old town. There was a man painting charming pictures of the area directly on the streets and a gallery selling amazing photographs of the Cinque Terre – to me it is no wonder the area inspires so many artists.
Again the streets were full of restaurants offering mouth-watering food and sweet little souvenir and delicacy shops. One particular delicacy of the region is ‘Trofie’, a sort of pasta you see everywhere. It is made of durum wheat and water and is very light and pleasant to eat.
These holidays were truly magical and we learned and experienced so many things. Italy once again proved to be a beautiful, multifaceted and culturally rich country, and the Cinque Terre more than fulfilled what their fame suggested. I can only recommend you to explore the area as well 🙂
Have you guys ever been to the Cinque Terre? If yes, what did you enjoy most? Or what would you like to see most after reading this post? I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!