Cinque Terre, What’s That?

So, you’ve heard about Cinque Terre and have seen pictures of the gorgeous cliffside villages, but still don’t quite understand what Cinque Terre is. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. After spending an entire day researching about Cinque Terre, we still didn’t quite understand it. We thought, if we researched all day and couldn’t really understand what exactly Cinque Terre is, there’s got to be other people in that same boat… So, hello, a post just for you!

 

Now, writing to inform people of Cinque Terre is a daunting task. With so much information, how could we possibly fit it all into one post?! You guessed it… we couldn’t. So we have a few posts about specifics of the Cinque Terre area.

 

Our Time in Cinque Terre

Why You Should Stay in Deiva Marina

Camping in Deiva Marina

 

Alright, let’s get to it. People tend to think Cinque Terre is one specific place, but in reality, it’s actually a small region of Italy. It’s a national park found about two hours north of Pisa along the west coast of Italy. Cinque Terre a jumble of five different cities that were once only accessible by foot, but now have roads and a railway line joining them all. (Don’t worry, although this does mean that it’s a bit more crowded and possibly not as romantic as it once was, there are ways to find romance there.)

 

{Traveler’s Tip… If you’re heading to Cinque Terre, from Pisa it’s 1.5 hours by train. The train terminates in La Spezia Centrale, where you have to get off and switch trains to continue north to each of the five cities of Cinque Terre. Be sure to validate your ticket if arriving by train.}

 

The five cities of Cinque Terre are as follows from south to north; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. While at first glance, each city may look the same, they all have something different to offer.

 

Riomaggiore:

Being the first of the five, and one of the larger cities in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore has a lot to offer. Here you will find a rocky beach area, a harbor great for cliff diving, and a castle and beautiful cathedral towering over the tourist filled streets below. It’s easy to get lost in the touristy aspect of Riomaggiore going from place to place to get the iconic pictures of the cliff side village, but be sure to take a break from all that. Sit in awe as people jump from the cliffs in the harbor. Snorkel right off the rocky beach by taking the trail on the south side of the harbor. (Be mindful of the waves, they can get quite large!) Enjoy a bottle of wine or an ice cold beer while playing cards on the rocks watching boats come to and from dropping people off in this busy village. Remember to just sit and relax taking in the beauty of this place.

 

Manarola:

Small and picturesque, yet extremely busy. This one lane village is packed with tourists. There isn’t a beach area in Manarola, however, experienced swimmers can swim from the harbor or off the rocks accessed by going north on the path out of the Manarola harbor. This is one of the smaller cities within Cinque Terre, but is definitely worth a visit! To get away from so many tourist, you can take the path north out of the harbor and follow it all the way around the cliff to a small harbor at the end. This is a lovely place to have some wine and cheese while watching the sun set over the remaining three cities north.

 

Corniglia:

365 steps both in and out of this city, but worth each and every one of them. Yes, you read that right! There are 365 steps leading into this city; it’s said that there is a step for each day of the year. Although this is quite a climb for tired legs, Corniglia is definitely worth the extra effort. This was the quietest city of the five, probably because of all the steps, and quickly became one of our favorites. Grab a bottle of wine and find a spot to sit back and enjoy the peacefulness of Corniglia. We’ve heard that near the cathedral there is the best gelato in all of Cinque Terre. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try it out. If you do, let us know how it is!

 

 

Vernazza:

Harbor swimming at its finest. The perfect city within Cinque Terre to spend a day in the crystal clear waters! Although there isn’t a sandy beach per say, the harbor is full of people swimming all day! With multiple rocks to lay out on and calm blue water, this is definitely a place to bring the kiddos for a refreshing swim. If you don’t have kids, don’t worry, to the far side of the harbor is where all the adults lounge around kid free and easy! Other than killer harbor swimming, Vernazza is the place to get gelato three times in one day! Yes, oops.. we did say three times! There is a place right along the harbor (picture below) and one more in the busier streets, that both have amazing gelato! Splurge a little and get it at least twice 😉 Other than the amazing gelato and fantastic harbor swimming, Vernazza’s only street is busy with shops, street vendors, and great food. There’s a castle to check out €1.5, and many walkways to get lost in walking up through the village.

 

 

Monterosso:

Beach lovers paradise of Cinque Terre. We didn’t make it to Monterosso – instead of going to Monterosso for the day, we took a couple other travelers up on their offer for a ride into Pisa. With that said, everything we’re telling you about Monterosso is through word of mouth or things we have read. And unfortunately, since we didn’t make it there, this also means that we don’t have any photos of Monterosso.

 

Monterosso seems to be the biggest of the five cities within Cinque Terre with both new town and old town areas. It is known for its two sandy/small pebbled beaches where traveler’s soak up the sun and take refreshing dips in the blue waters of the Italian coast. Based on the smiles on people’s faces entering the train from Monterosso, we can assume it’s just as nice as the other cities.

 

 


 

 

We hope this gives you a better understanding of the Cinque Terre area. If you have any specific questions or have information to add please don’t hesitate to comment below or email us at here.

 


 

Interested in where we think you should stay. Try this one Why You Should Stay in Deiva Marina.

Want to walk through our experience in Cinque Terre and the surrounding area… Check out Vacation Season.
On a budget, and need to know about camping in the area.. Check out Camping in Deiva Marina.
And lastly, if you’re interested in a guided experience of Cinque Terre be sure to check out Bianca at italianfix.com. She has some great info on the area and even shares a free itinerary for those of you interested in more of a scheduled vacation!

 


 

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