It doesn’t take much to get me back to Italy so when good friends suggested we join them in a visit to the Cinque Terre on the Italian Ligurian Coast I jumped at the chance. This was my third trip to the Cinque Terre and I would go back again in an instant.
The Cinque Terre is a stunningly beautiful and very rugged section of coast on the Italian Riviera west of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the steep land right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea and on these terraces they grow vines, lemons and vegetables. The villages have little to no corporate development and is connected by walking paths, trains and boats It is not accessible to cars unless they are owned by locals.
A walking trail, known as Sentiero Azzurro connects the five villages. And is relatively easy although does require some fitness. The first section is wheel chair friendly Manarola, and Riomaggiore. If you do not want to walk the trail you can catch the train from village to village or get the ferry.
We stayed in Corniglia at the delightful Il Gatto Nero, a 2 bedroom self contained apartment in the village. Corniglia is my favorite of the 5 villages and I have stayed in this charming village each time I have been to the Cinque Terre. It has no access to the sea and therefore is not as busy as the other villages, most of the tourists you see are all a bit of a blur as they rush through at a 100 miles an hour determined to get to the next village and tick a few more places they have been to (but haven’t actually seen) off their lists.
….People who have every minute of every day of their holiday planned and need to see 100 places in 2 weeks puzzle me…why?? In my humble opinion its much better to see fewer places well and take time to smell the roses and get to know the locals than to rush around covering a lot of ground and perhaps ‘seeing’ a great deal but not actually experiencing very much…
Ok back to 5T
I can highly recommend Il Gatto, it is clean, well located, very comfortable and it has stunning sea views. The owner Antonio could not have been more helpful, all in all a really good find.
Our favorite bar quickly became Er Posu where we had our morning coffee and in the evening our aperitivi. This little cafe with its happy friendly staff has a stunning view across the sea and do a pretty good Spritz al Aperol.
Another highlight was the fresh (and I mean just off the boast fresh) anchovies we bought form a local fisherman. Cleaned, dusted with flour and fried with a green salad made the perfect lunch.
Local trains from La Spezia to Genova and the rest of the region’s network connects the Cinque Terre.
A passenger ferry runs between the five villages, except Corniglia.