Go and explore

Dreams come true: Cinque Terre

September 1, 2016

During my summer in Tuscany, I decided to spend one weekend at Cinque Terre, planning to hike and visit all five of the towns along the beautiful coast that give the name to the area. Cinque Terre are in Liguria but just a few kilometers out of northwestern Tuscany and many people usually visit the coastal towns as part of their vacation to Tuscany. So did I.

Since August is quite busy time for living in these five towns, I decided to stay at Levanto – a small resort town with ancient Roman origins. It is adjacent to the five small charming villages of the Cinque Terre and is located on the east coast of Liguria – Riviera di Levante. For this reason, Levanto name means “the land to the east of Genoa”.  In general, city is very cosy and streets are beautiful.

There are some reasons to stay in Levanto:

  • Levanto is in Liguria region which has very mild climate. The region consists of 240 km of sea coast and is well protected by mountains from the cold invasion cyclones.
  • Levanto has lots of beautiful and picturesque places, medieval historic center, beautiful villas and great restaurants and shops.
  • Levanto has a long sandy beach that is ideal for all beach activities. This is a great place to surf and on certain days it is visited by many surfers from all over Europe.
  • The beach area also has a swimming pool and a diving center.

At Levanto train station you’ll find the office for the National Park of the Cinque Terre – here you can buy the Cinque Terre Card which covers all train travel between Levanto and La Spezia, as well as hiking fees.

Cinque Terre card permits:

  • Access to all walking paths in the Park;
  • Guided visits within the Park;
  • Use of bus service managed by ATC within the Park;
  • Participation in workshops;
  • Use of internet in Park wifi hot spots (also in the train!);
  • Reducted-fee entrance to the Civic Museums of La Spezia,

All the 5 towns are connected by train from Levanto, so you will not notice how in 5 mins you already reached the National Park.  I have to admit that train is the easiest and fastest way to move between the towns. Just in case, use the official site for the national park has a map that it updates when trails are open or closed.

Cinque Terre map

I decided to start with the farest and the largest of the five towns – Riomaggiore. It is known for its peeling pastel buildings march down a steep ravine to a tiny harbour – the region’s favourite postcard view – and  romantic glow at sunset. I have to confess that this town was the most desirable for me! For a long time I was looking at pictures on the Internet, admiring postcards sent by my friends who have already been in this beautiful place, and secretly wanted to go right there! And now it was real, I felt this air and YES! I was under the Ligurian sun!

Riomaggiore acts as the Cinque Terre’s unofficial capital. Their pastel glow at sunset, best appreciated from the sea, is one of the Cinque Terre’s most romantic sights. As soon as you get the place, you simply fall in love with this town – and there are any reasons for real to love Riomaggiore.

Firstly, the photos are just pain stunning.

Secondly, the daily life there is beautiful.

And thirdly, Riomaggiore’s water is pure blue.

Next station was charming Manarola –  the oldest and one of the smallest cities in Cinque Terre.

In the tiny harbor of Manarola there is a boats parking. Magnificent picture form picturesque colorful houses built right on the slopes of the cliff above the gorge.  Although the harbor can not boast a convenient beach is one of the best places on the coast for diving.

Along with the colorful houses among the hills, the most popular tourist attraction here is also the famous “Path of Love” (Via dell’Amore), which leads to Riomaggiore. The entrances of the Path of Love in both towns are near the station and there are many signs, so you can find quickly. You will be surprised to know that using a “Cinque Terre Card” you can get a free admission for the entracne.  The beautiful cobalt blue sea spreads beneath, and the other side is high rocks wall. On a sunny day it’s really nice, everyone is smiling taking photos 🙂

Then my trip led me to Vernazza which is the next to northernmost town with cosy streets. Colorful, antique homes cling to impossible cliffs. A lovely small harbor nestles under the shadows of an ancient castle and a dramatic seaside church.

I quickly visited the town, scouting out a place for something to eat for lunch. Along the main street I found a focacceria and tried out a very tasty pizza with pesto. I didn’t have much time to explore since I soon realized that trail should surely be avoided during warm weather since it is absolutely hard to climb. So I skiped Monterosso al Mare and Corniglia for the future opportunity to come back there again 🙂

Cinque Terre travel tips:
•Bring a refillable water bottle and look out for the water fountains in each village.
•For an authentic takeaway snack, look out for a friggitoria, where bite-sized seafood is piled into a paper cone.
•Do order the Cinque Terre DOC wine; it’s a dry, aromatic delight and you’ll also be supporting local winemakers.
•If you’ll be hiking and want to avoid the heat, come in May or September.

Summing up my own impressions, I can tell that Cinque Terre is all about relaxation and enjoying a slower pace to life. There is no need to “get out” in Terre – you should enjoy a stroll on the main street or let the sound of the waves on the breakwater lull you into an Italian euphoria. Try to become Italian and embrace the bliss of life on the Italian Riviera. With each step I took, I discovered a new view or corner that seemed the work of a different painter, but all working on the same large canvas. Cinque Terre is a nice place to stay and spend time with the family or with someone you love.