29.03.19 – 31.03.19
If you are looking for a physical representation on earth of what the religiously inclined call heaven, then look no further than the Cinque Terre. A quintet of tiny, enclosed villages dotted along some of the most breath-taking scenery that Italy has to offer, the Cinque Terre will provide the perfect holiday getaway destination. It is made up of the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. All of these little seaside villages have their own unique character while also blending in seamlessly with the landscape of the surrounding area.
The easiest way, by all accounts, to get to this magnificent area is by the train. The trip from Siena was very smooth and, mostly because I was travelling with friends, flew by. To travel between the villages, you have three options. You can get the train which costs around 2-4 euros per trip and is probably the quickest way to get between them. The boat is another option. It costs 7 euros but is a lovely way to see all the villages and if you are as legendary as the group of Americans in front of us you can bring wine with you for the trip and turn it into your own booze cruise. The final and, in my opinion, the best way to travel between the villages has to be the hiking trails. Now I am not a big hiker. I really wouldn’t put it high up on the list of things Amy frequently does or is good at but these trails are a must do. We were there during off season (March) so only one of the trails was open and, naturally, it was apparently the hardest one, which I am so glad I only figured out after we had already started the trail. Nothing is better than finding vindication for your out of control panting and beetroot coloured face. All red face and how-unfit-I-am jokes aside, the trail was breath-taking (hah I’m done now, I swear) and it was the only way to see the area properly. The views from the top were, in my not so humble opinion, infinitely worth the blood, sweat and copious amounts of water and haribo breaks it took.
If you are more about the relaxation type of holiday you will want to base yourself either in Monterosso or Vernazza. Monterosso has two beaches; one of which is the biggest beach of the Cinque Terre. It is beautiful and chalk full of Americans, which we found out is due to an American university in the vicinity. (Did anyone else imagine the Italian version of PCA from Zoey 101?). The beach front is lined with restaurants and food stalls so if you are hungry you can enjoy some food with an ocean view. We found this really lovely focaccia place and got them to take away to have ourselves a picnic on the beach. We spent the majority of the afternoon on the beach and then decided to get the boat from Monterosso back to Vernazza. The boat as I have said above is a great way to see the towns from the sea’s perspective. Vernazza, especially in comparison to the other towns, is much slower in pace. It is one of the smaller of the towns and has a very relaxed and sleepy feel to it. Its beach is a fraction of a size to that of the beaches of Monterosso although there is a pier jutting off the side of the beach that is ideal to watch the sun set from. I welcomed the sleepiness of Vernazza after the hustle and bustle of hiking and visiting the other towns.
On the Sunday we visited Riomaggiore and Manarola . Riomaggiore is the first stop on the Cinque Terre train and is probably the most well-known and photographed one. Obviously, it was beautiful, thus the reason for it being the poster town for the area, but I found it was the most touristy, even in off season. It is definitely worth a look at but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there, myself. However, it where the beginning of the Via dell’ Amore trail is, which for us was sadly closed, but is supposed to be the prettiest walk of the Cinque Terre so definitely don’t miss out on this if it is open when you are there. Manarola was a stunning town which houses the best lunch spot (and by that I also mean the most instagramable one). Nessun Dorma , has everything you could want in a seaside restaurant. It is rooted into the cliffside and so you can overlook the sea while eating some of their delicious bruschetta platters and an Aperol spritz and feel like you are in another world. There is also a playground nearby which because we are children we obviously tested out while we waited for a table. It is for several, blatant reasons very popular so you definitely have to be a patient person but I promise you it is worth the wait!
Overall the Cinque Terre gets a big 10/10 would recommend to a friend from me. Want to see more of it? Try looking at my video I made here of the trip.
Until next time!