Cinque Terre is a National Park, only 130 km from Genova, Italy; and it is amazing.
Recently, my friend and I, had the great idea to spend 3 days in these awesome little towns. These are not the typical historical Italian towns, but the colors of their houses, the hills at the edge, the sea and the views are breathtaking. We got there by train from Milan, but the nearest airport is in Genova and Florence isn’t far either; easy to access from these cities by train.
Let’s get this started: Cinque Terre means “Five Lands”, the reason: 5 towns, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso. All of them are linked my footpaths to do trekking, yes! Trekking from one town to another. During this walks you can enjoy great views, breath some fresh air, you can also chat with other visitors and ask “how is it? Am I missing a lot of path?”. Cannot forget how important is to use comfortable shoes and have bottled water.
Normally when you visit a National Park you have to pay, well we did pay, but as I bought day train ticket, (actually for 2 days = 28€) I was able to visit the park without any problem.
Distance from one town to another are different, here you find the distance and the time we walked (average):
- Riomaggiore to Manarola: 1.2 miles = 2km (around 40 min walk)
- Manarola to Corniglia: 1.2miles = 2 km (around 1h 15m)
- Corniglia to Vernazza: 2 miles = 4km (around 1h 45m) *I would said, difficulty: media
- Vernazza to Monterosso: 1.8 miles = 3km (around 2hours) * This is the hard one!
These paths are full of trees, stairs and breathtaking spots. You can also see some wineries and other types of crops. I believe 95% of Cinque Terre’s visitors do at least 1 of these walks; I felt the immersion between the hills, the sun tanning my skin, my lungs breathing fresh air, my eyes seen this cool place full of colors. Although, my friend and I visit it during an Italian holiday, it was full of foreign visitors. For what I heard, during July and especially in August is crowded (Italians do holidays during this month).
As these towns are very small, most visitors use the train when they finish their trekking or just when they want to join other town. Streets are small and I just saw few parking lots, so, better not bring your car. Now I am introducing you every town:
This is the first town from South to North. “Via dell’amore” is small path to Manarola, people said is really beautiful, but guess what? It’s closed! A couple of years ago, the sea damaged it and stills close; but don’t worry, you can see the Castle in the upper part of Riomaggiore and enjoy the sea from the rocks. Basically, walk around it, up and down. Taste sea food and breakfast in a small cafeteria was amazing. I slept here 2 nights in a small hostel, very economic and comfortable.
This town has also great view, there is a bar at the top where we watch the sunset while drinking some wine and tasty cheese and prosciutto. I saw people tanning on the big rocks and some others swimming; for me the sea was still too cold to go swimming, but that’s just me. The third night of my trip, I slept here in another hostel; I also saw lots of Airbnb and nice smalls hotels. Also, we went to a bar with live music, right in the main street. People told me this town was the best one to have a good meal.
Be ready for the stairs, this wonderful town has hundreds of stairs. If you arrive from the train station, follow the signs to the big stairs. All the people who got there was tired, lungs work a lot! But don’t worry is totally worth it. If you are trekking you will arrive from the upper part of the town and forget about stairs. This town was the hardest to visit because we arrived by train and then started the trekking from there, so I end up very tired.
If had to choose one town as favorite, this will be Vernazza. Colors of the houses are even more amazing than the rest ones. I did some shopping and drink a beer in a small bar, people where really friendly and you can see the view of the town in the picture I am posting. There’s a small beach and I saw kids playing football and then getting wet in the sea. Here we didn’t climb a lot, it was a bit more flat than the others.
The chic one, if you want a bigger hotel, fancy restaurants, I found them in this town. More shops and also more cars, so I believe and I read somewhere that Monterosso is the biggest town. Tanning in the beach here is easier because is bigger and has more sand. For me tanning involves sand, not rocks, so yes! Here my friend and I relaxed and swam a bit.
This is a National Park composed by 5 small and very very colored towns, people live from and for tourism, and they were so friendly with us, that I cannot forget to mention the locals as great hosts. Don’t try to find a resort or big boutiques from Italian brands; I might say “think local” this is the great part of Cinque Terre, is unique! We tried to speak with locals, eat local food; at the end we believe that been there was a holiday we wouldn’t forget easily because of the views, the locals, the trekking and the sea.
If you are planning to visit this beautiful place after reading this article, I can give you some advices:
- Bring: comfortable shoes for trekking, is forbidden to use flip-flops. Use sun protector, drink water and plan which part of the path you are doing everyday
- Book: hotel, Airbnb or hostels with time, especially during vacation seasons.
- Dare: to climb during the day and eat delicious sea food or pasta during your meals.
- Taste: local wine and pesto! Yes, “pesto genovese” is produce in the surrounding areas.
- Watch: the sunset in a spot that combines hills or colored houses, sea and of course sun!
That’s it for advices, I am not going to give tons of them, hope you consider them if visiting this cool place. See you soon in other written trip.