The Cinque Terre in Italy is a string of old towns along the coast, all connected by railway, and each offering it’s own unique style and attractions. Cinque Terre means “the five lands”, and they each boast pristine waters, aromatic citrus orchards, bountiful vineyards and centuries old olive groves. They were once very poor towns, barely accessible, but since their popularity with tourists has increased they have become richer and more productive in many ways. The Cinque Terre are accesible from UK with flights into Genoa or Pisa. To protect the Cinque Terre’s natural beauty it was made an Unesco World Heritage site in 1997.
Because of their coastal position, seafood dominates the menu in Cinque Terre restaurants with anchovies being a particular speciality. The steep hillsides also produce fine olives and being Italy they also produce fabulous local wine.
The ancient village of Monterosso is situated at the top of a hill and therefore offers some stunning panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Local attractions include the Church of St John, the Old Castle and the Convent of Capuchin. Monterrosso is the oldest of the Cinque Terre and dates back to 643 AD, but there the modern part of town is based at the foot of Fenigia Hill. The coastline is “guarded” by the statue of Neptune, also known as the “Giant”.
The most famous town of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is also the closest to La Spezia and boasts some of the best walking trails in the world. There is plenty to do in Riomaggiore, from enjoying a walk from the train station to the Castle up a steep road, to taking part in water sports such as diving or sailing. Or you could simply sit back and relax in one of the local restaurants and sample the delicious local cuisine.
Vernazza is home to a small picturesque port, evidence of its maritime history, and offers a mix of elegant architecture and old defensive structures. The main attractions of Vernazza are the Doria Castle, Sanctuary of the Virgin of Reggio and the Parish House of St Mary of Antioch.
Located on the top of a cliff, Manarola is the second smallest town of Cinque Terre and is laden with vineyards and orchards. Visitors can enjoy awe-inspiring landscapes from the Punta Bonfiglio headland, or from the churchyard of Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute di Volastra.
Situated on top of a promontory, Corniglia produces some amazing wine, including the very well known Sciacchetrà and is home the famous nudist beach – Givano Beach.
It is worth noting that if you are planning a trip to the Cinque Terre that you check updates about the walking trails as they can change due to landslides.