A Visit to Cinque Terre
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 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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 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"
Websites for planning your Cinque Terre Walk - Tips, maps, reports and more
- Cinque Terre National Park
Official National Park page. Everything you need to plan your visit
- Cinque Terre Hiking
Information and great photos of the walk, especially some of the upper trails
- Walking guide to the Cinque Terre
A trip report from "The Road Less Travelled" blog
- Walks of Italy website
Latest details on various walks in Italy and a forum for asking questions.
- Coastal Walking's Cinque Terre pages
Great site by a couple who have written about various coastal walks they have taken in Italy and other places. Good high res map available to download.
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
Plan your own visit to Cinque Terre
- Wiki Travel Cinque Terre page
Great resource for up to date information about visiting CT
- Lonely Planet Cinque Terre information
Lonely Planet page on CT
- Tripadvisor's CT pages
A warning - you can spend hours researching here!
- Slow Travels Cinque Terre page
I love slow travel reports and accommodation suggestions. Highly recommend a read of this site for any holiday to Italy.
- Boat excursions from CT Villages
There are regular ferries in high season and some other boats available off season if you feel like braving the winter seas.
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