Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” and is a stretch of five small towns built into the rugged coastline along the Italian Riviera. The towns are, from the south to the north, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. We stayed in Monterosso, the beach town. After we dropped the car off at the Pisa airport we took the train to Monterosso and settled into our hotel. Thankfully the rain let up in the afternoon and we were able to enjoy a lovely evening in Monterosso. The next morning we took the local train to each of the other four towns, hopping off and exploring, and then hopping on the train to the next town. It’s only about a 4 minute train ride between each adjacent town. We took a ferry back from the last town, Riomaggiore, to our hotel in Monterosso to grab our bags and take the train to Genoa. I separated my pictures by town.
Monterosso al Mare
We wandered around the town and beach first, and found delicious coconut gelato.
Boat pic for dad 🙂Then, we started on the hiking trail to Vernazza. We knew we wouldn’t have time to go the whole way, but we can say we hiked in Cinque Terre 🙂 The light kept changing and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the view. The ramp on the right is where we had to scale the wall in order to avoid getting hit by a taxi transporting people staying in a cliffside hotel on this narrower than most already-super-narrow streets.
That evening we had dinner at a restaurant run by the same family that owns our small hotel, and it was delicious. We dined seaside during the sunset. My favorite part of the meal, and one of the best things I’ve eaten in Italy so far, is pesto spread on simply grilled bread. This area is known for its pesto, and for good reason.
Not a great picture, but I wanted to capture that we were eating seafood caught from the sea that sat next to us during dinner. Wine and limoncello from Monterosso and more tiramisu rounded out the meal.In the morning, after accidentally waking up at 3am and starting to get ready for the day before realizing the time and going back to sleep for a few more hours, we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel with amazing fresh fruit. We got on the train and headed to the next town, Vernazza. But first, a picture of sunny, blue skies in the late afternoon when we returned to Monterosso after exploring the other towns.
The pictures just do not capture the beauty.
Corniglia is different from the other Cinque Terre towns in that it is not just in the cliff, it is on top of the cliff. You have to climb 382 steps to get to the town, and it is worth every single step. Although, we saw people carrying their suitcases up those steps and I’m not sure I’d have the stamina for that. View of the train station below from up above (not at the top yet!) When we walked back down the steps I wanted to cheer on everyone walking up “you’re almost there!” “it’s worth it!” but I resisted and just smiled instead.
When we arrived in Corniglia we stopped for caffe and freshly squeezed lemonade. And by freshly squeezed I mean after the barista took my order he walked outside to this basket of lemons, grabbed an armful and then squeezed them, adding oh so little water. I had to add 6 sugars to drink it, and I like tart and sour. It was delicious.
We had beautiful views of Manarola from an overlook built into the cliffside. We climbed to the top of one of the walkways where there was a little garden, playground and restaurant, with a sign reading “Welcome to Paradise.” Indeed.
Riomaggiore is larger than some of the other towns and was crowded on the main drag. So, we got a takeaway lunch (focaccia with olives? focaccia with Nutella? Si, per favore e grazie) and spent a little time by the water while we waited for the boat. The clouds rolled away just in time for our beautiful boat ride back to Monterosso.