We couldn’t wait to explore the stunning, short stretch of coastline that encompasses the Cinque Terre … the 5 colourful villages that cling and cascade down the cliffs here! We didn’t actually chose to stay in any of them as they are really very small so opted to base ourselves in the town of La Spezia. A great choice as the town is lively with plenty of eateries, a nice port and harbour along with a central train station which is by far the easiest and most stress free way to visit the Cinque Terre – absolutely do not bother with a car!! The railway is incredibly well geared up for the tourists that flock here and there are trains every few minutes just running back and forth along this short stretch! We found plenty of easy to use ticket machines on all of the platforms and prices are reasonable … we went for single tickets as we had a few days to spread out our visits and take our time in each place – but all can be done in a day and there are special deals and tickets for this!
From La Spezia, the first and nearest village, is Riomaggiore which is only an 8 minute train ride away – it could not be easier! Such a charming and welcoming walk down from the station descending through the narrow lanes to the tiny harbour below! Full of colourful buildings, back to back restaurants opening out onto crystal clear waters. The best view is when you are down in the harbour looking back up at the village that looks as if it is tumbling down into the sea – absolutely stunning! The next village along is Manarola which turned out to be our least favourite – maybe spoilt from just seeing the drama of Riomaggiore! Be very aware that from the station there is a bit of walk and then a very long zig zag staircase and climb to reach the little village up top – which didn’t really deliver on spectacular views either! The other villages have more to offer in our opinion if you want to give this one a miss! Next up is Corniglia which was pretty enough and is worth a stop and a walk around for sure.
But it was carrying on to Vernazza that we experienced the wonder and excitement we had felt earlier on in the day when we saw Riomaggiore! Vernazza is a bit bigger, again super colourful, buzzing with atmosphere along with having a gorgeous rocky larger harbour to swim in! Don’t miss the walk along the cliff path that stretches out and above the village where you get the best of views and which are well worth the effort! There are some amazing restaurants seemingly hanging off the cliff edges all around here that offer not only traditional and tasty food but have the most wonderful heavenly, uninterrupted panoramas! The 5th and final village is Monterosso which is set along a beach on the flat so there are no heights, climbs or views here really but it was very nice to stroll along!
If you have the time and or inclination for more then you could go on still further taking the train (about 1 hour 45 minutes from La Spezia) and visit the world famous Portofino. It isn’t too dissimilar to the Cinque Terre but maybe it does have more of a superior, monied, gentile vibe about it on par, say with, St Tropez or Monaco! To be perfectly honest spending time in any of these wonderful places was a joy and a truly lovely way to spend an afternoon, a whole day or a stunning holiday – you won’t be disappointed whatever part of this coastline you are lucky enough to visit!
We adore Italy and here are the links to other trips we’ve made around this incredible country – simply click on the place below that’s of interest :