We have left Tuscany and arrived in the Liguira region which is the northwest part of Italy. Cinque Terre is a National Park and also a UNESCO World Heritage site and comprises of five villages Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Access to the villages in a motor vehicle is restricted to local villagers. So the best way to see these villages are to either hike the coastal path, visit by boat or use the train which links the villages.
About 3 weeks ago Italy had quite major storms which caused quite a lot of damage to the Ligurian Coast so unfortunately we couldn’t hike the coastal paths. We also found out that we were not going to be able to visit Portofino which was going to be our next stop as the storms had taken out the whole road into the village!
People flock to visit these lovely villages so the prices to stay in the area were ridiculously high and we couldn’t find many options either with it being out of season all the camp sites were closed. A night in car park in La Spezia which is the first village outside of the Cinque Terre was the bargain price of 36 euros! Also neither of us felt comfortable leaving the dogs in a car park while we went off sight seeing. Luckily we found an aire which was located right outside the first Cinque Terre village Monterosso al Mare and the owners also offer a shuttle service down and back from the village included in the price which seemed a bargain at 20 euros per night in the scheme of things.
We had a look around Monterosso which is probably the largest of the villages and famous for its anchovies which have the Protected Designation of origin status.
We then headed off on the train to Riomaggiore which was the furthest village away from us, the journey took about 30 minutes. We grabbed a map of the village from the tourist information point and headed off to have a look around. This was our favourite village, we walked up the steep paths to the top of the village, had a look around the church and headed up to the view point. The views were stunning and so picture postcard perfect.
Manarola was the next stop and a lot smaller than the two villages we had already visited. Manarola’s primary industries have always been fishing and wine making. The local wine is called sciacchetra. As you walk through the village the fishing boats are dried moored right outside the houses on the street.
Corniglia was very different to the other four villages, it is not adjacent to the sea and when you get off the train the easiest way to get into the heart of the village is to get on the bus. Otherwise its a steep hike up to the village which sits 100 metres above sea level. Corniglia is known well for its gelato which is made from local honey.
Vernazza is a true fishing village and is the only natural port of the Cinque Terre.
It was a long day and involved a lot of walking (according to our watches just over 16,000 steps) which was mainly up hills (equivalent to 35 floors) so that we could enjoy the view points but also a very enjoyable day.
Its a real shame that we can not continue on to Portofino as this was the one place that we both really wanted to visit. It just means that we have a great excuse to visit the area again!