OVERVIEW OF CINQUE TERRE: The breathtaking region of Cinque Terre consists of 5 lovely seacoast towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Each town has it’s own feel to it but they all contain gorgeous views, small churches, and amazing restaurants. The best way to see these towns is by traveling the Via dell’ Amore, a coastal path that connects the towns. You can pick and choose a path while you’re there and only see a few of the towns if you prefer or you can make a day of it and see all 5 cities in one shot.
VIA DELL’ AMORE: In the past, the towns of Cinque Terre were difficult to access and the people of the towns mainly stuck to themselves. After WWII, a path was created and people from adjoining towns started to meet each other and fall in love. Which is how it got the name “Path of Love.” Today it is a lovely way to experience the different towns.
Riomaggiore: We decided to start our day here since it is the first town from the side of La Spezia and seemed like a logical route since the town we were staying at was the last town. We had planned on taking a boat there, but the water was too choppy so all boats were canceled for the day so instead we took the train right to the center of town. The vivid colors of Riomaggiore will strike you as you get off the train. There are lots of small beaches to explore and adorable streets that you could wander through. The walk to the next town, Manarola, is .5 miles and takes about 15-20 minutes.
Manarola: This town had a beach vibe and once again, the colorful buildings will make you look up at this piece of art. We walked around the town, stopped in the small shops, and took tons of pictures. As you walk on the Via dell’ Amore, you will look back and get the most stunning view of the town. The next trail, to Corniglia, is 1.2 miles and should take you about 45 minutes.
Corniglia: This town is the smallest and highest town. It does not have a seaport but it is a beautiful town with a less touristy feel to it since many tourists skip going up to this town. The next trail, to Vernazza, is 2 miles and takes about 60 minutes.
Vernazza: This town was one of our favorites. The seaport is booming with action and it is a nice place to stop for a drink and watch the local fishermen come in and out. When we were there a storm was brewing so they were using a pulley system to get their small boats onto land. It was nice to see the local men working together to get the task done. The next trail, to Monterossa, is the hardest but it is still just a walk and not a hike. It is about 2 miles and can be done in 60-90 minutes.
Monterossa: This is the town we stayed in and we absolutely fell in love with it. It is the largest of the 5 towns and there are tons of restaurants, bars, and cafes. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is calm and clear.
The reason it takes so long to walk this trail is because you will constantly be stopping to take pictures since it is so lovely. I recommend starting the trail in the morning before it gets too hot (in summer) and taking your time to enjoy every town. In the morning have an espresso while sitting at a clifftop café in Riomaggiore. In Manarola take pictures of the colorful buildings. In Corniglia stop for a cold beer. In Vernazza have a seafood lunch in one of the many seacoast restaurants. And in Vernazza go for a swim in the beautiful calm water before hopping on the train to go back to your hotel.
We spent one day doing the Via dell’ Amore and the next full day relaxing in Monterossa. We went into town and bought some local cheese, wine, and fresh figs and sat on our patio watching the water. We went for a swim and explored the town before having an amazing dinner. The town is incredible at night after most of the tourists go home.