Cinque Terre is made up of 5 small villages on the northwestern coast of Italy that are known for their colorful houses. They are also part of the Italian Rivera. I had never heard of this place until it was mentioned to me right before my trip which seemed to be the new tourist hot spot since most of it was over flowing with tourists.
The best way is by train from either Genoa (which is what we did), Florence, or Rome to La Spezia. The closest airports are Pisa or Florence but you’ll still need to take a train. You can attempt to drive it but it has narrow cliff edge roads. You can also take a ferry from La Spezia, Portovenere, Levanto, Lerici, or Portofino as well.
Where to stay
You can stay in one of the villages if you book early otherwise it will be expensive and most everything closes at 7. We stayed in La Spezia which was affordable, had good restaurants, easy access to all 5 villages. It was much more lively to be here in La Spezia than in Cinque Terre. There was music coming from one bar that was 80’s music in English that had people literally dancing in the streets.
Going Between The Villages
You can hike or take the train. There is a Cinque Terre pass which you can get for a day or for a couple of days that allows you to go between the villages as much as you want and also gets you access to the hiking trails which do have manned checkpoints that will check to see if you have a pass or you can pay at the checkpoint if you don’t have one. If you are only going to 1 or 2 villages for the day then the pass isn’t worth it.
Known for the wine produced by the vineyards in town. It has a small wharf here. The trail from here to Manarola is the Via dell’Amore. There is a path on the left side near the train station that you can walk up that gives a great viewpoint.
This may be the oldest of all 5 of the villages which is said to date back to 1338. Known the local wine called Sciacchetrà. Once you walk off the train you need to walk under the mountain thru an underground passage. We found an organic gelato place called Galateria Sorbetteria Sterre that had amazing gelato worth getting some if you go here.
To reach this village after departing the train you need to walk up what’s called the Lardarina, which is 33 flights of brick steps. It’s about 382 steps. Or you can take a small bus which sometimes runs or a winding road. This is the least touristy of all of them. The population for this village is only 150.
Has the only natural port of all 5 villages and is a true fishing village. Known for it’s elegant houses. This was my favorite village. There are signs here pointing to the trail from Vernazza to Corniglia that you can take. The trail reminded me of the first half of climbing Stromboli. About half way up there is a restaurant called La Torre which is on the cliff side over looking the village. We stopped here and had lunch. It’s cash only. The food was very good. It’s almost all seafood dishes. We shared squid ink pasta with shrimp. It was my first time having squid ink pasta and it wasn’t bad. The Bellini I had with peaches was amazing. The view was incredible as well. It was pretty peaceful here and only had a few tables which is most likely due to the location. Most tourists I doubt would venture this far up the hill just to eat. We got strawberry Tiramisu for dessert and it was so creamy, but not to rich that it was hard to resist not getting a second one.
Is known for it’s lemon trees and wine. A natural gulf is at the center for this village. It has the longest sand beach of all of the villages. There is a tunnel separating the old from the new part of this village. By far the most touristy village due to the beach. We did notice that some locals liked to sun bath on the rocks instead of the beach. You can also rent boats here to take you to each of the villages. It’s good if you want to spend the day at the beach. Otherwise it was just to crowded to even move thru the streets.