A VERY GOOD FRIEND of mine loves Firenze and inquired on Facebook as to scenic destinations nearby. Cinque Terre immediately came to mind! CT, or the Five Lands, is a string of five staggeringly beautiful villages that cling to a rugged landscape off the Balearic Sea coast. Limited transportation options in and around the villages have preserved a feeling of remoteness and is the ideal destination for a seeker of beauty, like my friend who has recently recovered from a debilitating illness and is in need of a restorative vacation.
Cinque Terre consists of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The easiest way to reach any of the villages is via train from the Italian harbour town La Spezia. The duration of the train ride from Firenze to La Spezia is about 2h30min and it is less than 10 min from La Spezia to CT. The train ride itself is scenic, burrowing through tunnels with sporadic and breathtaking views over the coastline.
Tourism is well developed in CT with outstanding accommodation and dining options. Locals often rent out rooms at very affordable prices and ArbaSpaa has a fabulous portfolio of units, many of which offer stunning views over the sea. Restaurants vie with each other to proffer the freshest seafood and delicious olives that benefit from the salt content in the earth on the lower slopes. CT dished up one of the best meals we had in Italy!
A Hiking Paradise
The villages are all linked to each other via walking tracks. The more famous coastal route, known as Sentiero Azzuro, runs for about 12km along the bottom of the cliffs, linking Manarola and Monterosse al Mare via Corniglia and Vernazza. La via dell’Amore or the Way of Love is a romantic and easy 1km stretch linking Riomaggiore and Manarola.
A lesser known route is one that runs along the top of the escarpment. Known as La via dei Santuari, it links the churches or sanctuaries above each town, starting at Manarola via Santuario di Nostra Signora della Salute, Santuario di Nostra Signora della Grazie, Santuario di Nostra di Reggio and Santuario di Nostra Signora di Soviore to Monterosso.
But enough chatting! I will let the Cinque Terre Photo Gallery speak for itself. We stayed in Manarola, which I judge the second most scenic village. My favourite is Vernazza! I wonder if you’d agree.
Want to see more of Italy? Visit the hilltop town in Umbria clinging desperately to life!
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