Sitting along the rugged Italian Riviera coastline is the stunning Cinque Terre.
Meaning five lands in Italian, the dramatic coastline consists of five beautifully crafted villages along a single cliff line. The cliff face is known around the world for its pastel-coloured houses and vineyards clutching to the steep hills.
Wander through these magnificent fishing gowns on ancient cobbled roads, finding yourself surrounded in Italian heritage and history. The wild coastline below crashes against the cliffs and protects these towns from the Mediterranean Sea below. In 1997 this picturesque coastline was granted a World Heritage listing as both a cultural and natural environment. These protections will ensure that Cinque Terre is here for generations to come.
The first village you’ll come to if approaching from the north is Riomaggiore. The village was founded by Greek refugees in the 8th century who took notice of the rich soil and plenty of sea life surrounding it. Wander towards the small harbour and see ample of local fishing boats ready to head out tomorrow morning.
Two million visitors come through the town each year, however, tourism isn’t the only industry here. Look up to the steep farming land, the wine and olive oils produced here kept this town operating for centuries before the tourism boom.
Take a slow stroll through the town and enjoy the pace of Italian village life. The marina is the perfect place to sit down for a latte or wine while breathing in the fresh sea air, a lovely change from the inland cities of Europe.
One of the most famous walks through the town is the Way of Love. Via dell’Amore winds from Riomaggiore all the way to Manarola. You’ll traverse along the clifftops, cutting along the cliffs on the half an hour walk. The path is famous for the nets hanging from the bridges, where lovers have been known to place padlocks in the nets, promising their love to each other for eternity.
For those who are travelling without their lover, perhaps a visit to Castello di Riomaggiore is in order. The amazing medieval castle was constructed in 1260 to protect the town from barbarian and pirate attacks! Love walks and pirate history, what doesn’t Riomaggiore have?
The Pearl of Cinque Terre, this fishing village is imbued with sandy white beaches and lush vegetation. The largest of the five villages along Cinque Terre, Monterosso is nestled among wineries and lemon and olive orchards. Below the village are crystal clear waters, beckoning you in for a swim.
Monterosso is divided into two areas, the new and old parts of town. The village is divided by the medieval tower Aurora. The new part of town is filled with great restaurants, beautiful hotels and is alive with life. Fegina, as it is known, is dominated by the famous statue of the Giant. The statue was meant to represent Neptune, God of the sea, and has become the symbol of Monterosso for locals and tourists alike.
The old part of town is filled with medieval architecture, castle ruins and narrow medieval streets. The beach also sits in the old town, and is the only beach in all of Cinque Terre with sandy shores for you to enjoy.
There are several ways to pass between the new and old towns however the best way is certainly to make your way through the tunnels that link them below the San Cristoforo promontory. If you’re more of the adventurous type you might enjoy a serene hike through the mountain trails, surrounded by lemon and olive groves.
Italy is famous for its many and varied regional foods. Cinque Terre is no outlier and has many delicious local delicacies for you to enjoy! While focaccia and pesto are iconic to the broader region of Liguria, many other foods are local to these villages.
Anchovies; A lot of people judge before they try when it comes to anchovies, however even if you’re the most anchovy opposed person you must try them here. Enjoy them raw with a trickle of lemon and olive oil or cooked with potatoes. The anchovies from Cinque Terre are famous throughout Italy for their exceptional quality.
Olive Oil; Europe has a special designation for certain speciality foods and Cinque Terre’s olive oil has the Protected Designation of Origin label. Thanks to the ideal conditions along the coastline and the richness of Cinque Terre’s soil, the olive oil made here is truly superb.
Seafood; Being situated along the coastline has a lot of benefits, one of which is an abundance of fresh seafood. Be sure to try local muscles or fish when enjoying a meal at one of the hilltop restaurants. Once you’ve finished your meal, treat yourself to some dessert or cheese and Sciacchetrà.
Sciacchetrà; Sciacchetrà is a unique wine made only in Cinque Terre. The sweet wine is commonly served alongside desserts or cheese plates in the evening. Families in Cinque Terre have been passing on winemaking recipes and traditions for generations, resulting in these delightful tipples. In fact, winemaking is so important in these parts that it was once the main source of income for the region, before tourism kicked in.
Cinque Terre has an abundance of things to see and do, as well as a whole world of delicious foods for you to enjoy. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy this amazing region next time you visit Italy, we promise you won’t regret it.
We can help you get to Cinque Terre from Florence for an unforgettable day trip!
Related article: Regions of Italy