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A Visit to Cinque Terre

Updated on October 9, 2014

Why you should visit the Cinque Terre or the 5 villages of Italian Riveria

Sometime in the late 1990s I came across a photo of Cinque Terre in a magazine. It showed little colored houses all squashed into a small rocky cove and a brilliant blue sky above. I was captivated. I cut out the picture and kept it by my desk for the next year or two, knowing that one day I was going to go and stand in that village and take in that exact view.

Well it took a while, a little over 10 years but I finally made it last year. I was worried that will all those years of dreaming of visiting that it might have changed, progress might have taken its charm. I am glad to report that it had not. Cinque Terre - the 5 lands are beautiful little Italian villages that you will feel so lucky to have seen.

I hope you enjoy my visit to Cinque Terre, particularly Vernazza, this beautiful little village was badly damaged in terrible flooding in 2011 but hopefully it will fully recover and regain its magic soon.

The 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Where is Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre Map
Cinque Terre Map

Cinque Terre or "the five lands" lies on the north west coast of Italy. It is about 3.5 hours train ride from Florence and 5 hours from Venice. We travelled by train for Florence and then after 3 days enjoying the beautiful spot continued by train to Venice.

How to get to Cinque Terre - Taking the train to Cinque Terre

We caught a direct train from Florence. It took a little over 3 hours to get to Vernazza and we had to change trains once in La Spezia. If you have not already been to Pisa you can change trains there and have a quick visit.

Most trains from La Spezia stop at Riomaggiore and Montorosso - if you are staying in one of the other villages make sure you check that you are on a slow train. You can buy your national park and train pass from La Spezia if you change trains here.

We travelled to Venice after we left Vernazza and for us it was quicker to travel back to Florence and then take the fast train from there. You can also choose to go via Milan.

You can check all the train information on the Trentalia website

Riomaggiore

Which village in Cinque Terre should you stay in? - How to choosing the best village for your holiday.

The main thing to remember is that all the villages are connected by train. These are regular and the trips only take a few minutes. Read on and discover the perfect village for you.

  1. Riogamorre - This is first village when heading in from the south. The main office of the National Parks is here and it is the second biggest village after Montorosso. We only spent a few hours here but it had a good vibe and there seemed to be some nice places to eat. This is where the Lovers walk - a 20 minute track to Manrola begins. Overall accommodation prices seem a little lower here.
  2. Manrola - said to be the quietest of the villages and the only one we did not manage to see. We spent a little too long in the other villages and drank a little too much wine on our final day to make it here. If you are looking for a peaceful getaway this could be your village.
  3. Corniglia - is the middle village and has no direct access to water. This is probably the less accessible village for those who are not good up walking up hills or have heavy baggage. The views over the ocean are gorgeous and you can reach the sea via 370 or so stairs - a great way to walk off all the amazing food.
  4. Vernazza - To me the most picturesque of the villages and where we decided to stay on our visit. There is enough life to keep you busy here and once it recovers from its terrible floods it will be a great base.
  5. Monterosso Al Mare - The biggest of the villages with an old town and newer area divided by the train line. This village offers the best beach of the Cinque Terre but is the least traditional of the villages in my opinion. It is worth half a day to wander if time allows. Monterosso Al Mare was also my favorite restaurant up on the hill between the old and new.

Have you heard of Cinque Terre?

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A video tour of the Villages of Cinque Terre

Take a tour of each village to help decide where you would most like to base yourself on a Cinque Terre holiday

There is plenty to explore in this corner of Italy - Learn more about the Italian Riviera

Monterosso al Mare - The new end of town

The Cinque Terre is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Park.

Monterosso Al Mare

My favorite restaurant in Cinque Terre - Restaurant L' ancora Della Tortuga

Rick Steves' Snapshot Italy's Cinque Terre
Rick Steves' Snapshot Italy's Cinque Terre

Rick Steve's introduced Cinque Terre to the USA and much of the rest of the world. He has been travelling here for years and has some great tips in this small but handy guide.

 

Walking in Cinque Terre - a small section of the "Lovers Walk Via Dell ‘Amore"

Walking the Cinque Terre

Watch a few of these and you will discover why I had to add this amazing place to my bucket list

Finding accommodation in Cinque Terre

We loved our little apartment right in the centre of Vernazza. It was a studio room but quite large and slept 3 comfortably. We had a small kitchen area and the window looked out over the main square and across to the church. I would highly recommend this room.

Franca Maria Rooms

Piazza Marconi, 30 - 19018 Vernazza, Cinque Terre - Italy

Phone/Fax (0039) 0187 812002 - mobile 328 7119728

http://www.francamaria.com/

The Vernazza Flood - October 25th 2011

Sadly Vernazza was hit by a devastating flood on last year (on my birthday) I remember hearing the news and feeling so sad. It was only a year since our visit. 3 people died that day. The lovely man who sold us our gelato died saving his family. I have posted these videos to show just how terrible the flood was and how amazing the local people have been in rebuilding their village. You can donate to the rebuilding fund by visiting Rebuild, Restore, Preserve Venrazza

Would you like to visit Cinque Terre? - or have you already been?

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Not only did I visit Cinque Terre but I had a magical experience there. I went to Monterroso - had a discussion with this wonderful couple about how whether you were Republican or Democrat you could be united if you loved children.We both left at separate times - and then we were re-united - all without planning. They helped me get free housing. And I also had a romance there. Love Cinque Terre! That couple said, and I agree - that special people are drawn there. blessed...........

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We are planning to visit Italy in September-October 2012.Your blog is inspiring, we would definitely add Cinque Terre in our list.

    • profile image

      Glendame 5 years ago

      I walked there many years ago (too many to mention) - glad to hear the region is still just as beautiful

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 5 years ago

      What a beautiful area! Would love to visit it.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      Lovely. Your photos are so beautiful. The flood is heart-breaking. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • PaulaMorgan profile image
      Author

      Paula Morgan 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @anonymous: Thanks so much Dewittsenior, I love travel planning almost as much as travelling.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wonderful travel lens! So much information, photos and videos - and it all flows so well. I am almost as impressed with the lens as I am with Cinque Terre.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      Wonderful photos and commentary. It's on my bucket list.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Beautiful place! I like the way the colourful buildings are stacked up the hillside.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      Squid Angel Blessed!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 5 years ago from Royalton

      I can hardly wait to return to the Cinque Terre and your pictures and tale of your trip make me want to do so even more.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Just love the place. You have shared a wonderful experience.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      Beautiful. "Squid Angel blessed."

    • PaulaMorgan profile image
      Author

      Paula Morgan 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @anaisfraiche: I am visiting Malaysia this year but unfortunately won't make it to Borneo perhaps next time. It looks beautiful

    • PaulaMorgan profile image
      Author

      Paula Morgan 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      @marigoldina: There were stories of the 3 people who lost their lives on the the fundraising website. It sounded like he gave his life to save his son and grandchild. They have made great progress on the clean up and I think they hope to be open this season.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      How did you find out that the man who sold you ice cream passed away in the flood? That is so sad. I have fond memories of my solo trip to the Cinque Terre as well. Hopefully, they will manage to rebuild as soon as possible.

    • anaisfraiche profile image

      anaisfraiche 5 years ago

      sorry, here's the said link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1g_d9Hsqhw

    • anaisfraiche profile image

      anaisfraiche 5 years ago

      Absolutely yes! Beautiful place. Hey, why don't you come and visit my home state, Sarawak (Borneo)? Here's a Youtube video (tourism commercial) promoting it :)