Cinque Terre Trip and Photos
Cinque Terre, a dreamt location to many tourists, is referring to the five small villages built on hill terraces in northeast coast of Italy. The closest airport is Pisa International Airport. From north to south, these villages are Monterosso , Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. To go to Cinque Terre towns, you can take the train from La Spezia train station from the south or from Levanto station in the North. A few trains are leaving on every hour. The ticket is EUR4 one way (in 2016) from La Spezia to any towns, ending in Levanto. Levanto is a modern town with access to the beach. It is worthwhile to buy the Cinque Terre card (http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-card) which allows you to use the train, hiking trail and shuttle bus unlimitedly.
These five villages are surrounded by mountains which run parallel to the "Appennino Mountains". Steep valleys between the villages account for unique landscape, which makes them unique and stands out from the rest of the Italian coast. The typical colourful houses, mainly red, yellow and blue, are called liguri, built in between narrow alleys, and above the rocky terraces or cliff, vertical to the roaring sea. Protected by UNESCO, the Cinque Terre is a National Park with terraces and vineyards.
Monterosso has the widest beach of all the Cinque Terre villages. If you like to spend time sunbathing on the beach, this is the best place. The biggest town among the five villages, you can spend a few hours strolling on these pretty streets which are packed with wine shops, artisan outlets, hotels and restaurants. The village is divided into two parts - San Cristoforo hill and the old part of the maritime village. When you exit from the train station, you can turn left to the old village where most restaurants and shops are available. If you turn right, you will hike towards to San Cristoforo hill, and on the way, you will pass by more beaches and hotels.
Seafood is favourite among the locals and tourists. Anchovies is a must try if you are visiting this place. It is fresh and delicious !
Vernazza, the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre, used to be the Roman installation and had a significant strategical importance during the age of the Maritime Republics in Genoa. If you climb up the hills behind the Vernazza village, you will get the panaromic view of the village as shown in photos below.
After that, take a walk in the village near the watch tower and the "Castello" remains. In the small square, overlooking the seaside, the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia is a scenic view you will not missed.
Perhaps due to its reputation, this town is flooded most with tourists when compared to other four villages. The train station has only 1 toilet each for man and woman, and the queue is often very long.
Hiking trail from Corniglia to Vernazza
The hiking trail from Corniglia to Vernazza takes about one and half hour, and the view is spectacular. It is easier to hike from Corniglia to Vernazza than the other way round, due to the steep slopes down to Vernazza. If you starts from Vernazza, expect to climb the really steep slopes up more than 1000 steps. Well, unless that's the challenge you are looking for, go for it!
Note : there is no public toilet along this trail. There is a small town with restaurant and toilet mid way through the route, but it displayed signboard "Only for customers".
Photos taken at Hiking Trail from Corniglia to Vernazza
Corniglia is the only village built on top of the hill. To reach the village, you can either take a 365 steps up the hill, or take the 2 minutes shuttle bus. I paid EUR2.50 per pax per trip for the shuttle bus in 2016 Spring. For such short trip, it is considered expensive. However, if you have the Cinque Terre card, the shuttle bus is free.
This village is least crowded with tourist, and hence, in my opinion, it is the best place to relax, unwind and experience the Italian culture of these villages. The village consists of a small road leading to an enchanting terrace beside the sea. View of Manarola can be seen from here.
Church of San Pietro (1334) in Corniglia is considered as one of the most significant monuments in the gothic-ligurian style of the Cinque Terre. To the left of this church, you can find the hiking trail to Vernazza. This is a paid path, and Cinque Terre Card can be used. To the right of this church, you will enter the hiking trail 7a, which is free, leading you up to the hill. It is an upward, mostly 30 to 45 degree hill slope, which is moderately challenging. In Spring, the blooming wild flowers make this region a really lovely place to hike.
Manarola is another pictureque village, and its photo is most frequently used for representing Cinque Terre. Surrounded by vines, there are path for visitors climbing up the vines to get the panaromic view of the village. The wine of Manarola is very famous, and visitors who visited this place will often have wine with main course for lunch and dinner.
Bus Route from Manarola - Volastra - Riomaggiore
In Manarola town centre, you can take the bus to Volastra which is located on top of the hill. The scenic drive is really worth the trip. With Cinque Terre Card, this ride is included. From Volastra, you can take another scenic bus route to Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore, is the first village you will arrive at, if you take the train from La Spezia. You can also reach this beautiful little village via scenic road by bus from La Spezia or Manarola. The village is named after the stream crossing it. The village has a small seashore, with roaring waves hitting the shore.
From Riomaggiore, it is possible to take the most scenic hiking trail called Via Dell'Amore to Manarola village. Unfortunately this route is closed in 2016, until further notice.