The five small villages along the coast between Genoa and Tuscany have become one of the most favored destinations in the world for tourists. These villages have been isolated for centuries at the base of steep cliffs and mountains. The villages are by the sea, and vineyards, goat paths, and beautiful scenery rise up in the steeply majestic hills. Specifically, the villages are named: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
The five villages are in the region called Cinque Terre and there is a national park by the same name. The national park encompasses the villages, so any reference to Cinque Terre will lead you to the same picturesque scenery and unique local experience. Because of their location, these villages are rather isolated and have developed a culture unto themselves.
Traveling Cinque Terre
If you want to do more than just drive by to peek at these beautiful old towns, you’ll need to arrange a stay of at least a few days. If you only have an afternoon, be sure to take at least one hike through the hills, or see the area from the sea on one of the ferries that run between four of the five cities. Corniglia cannot be reached by ferry as it does not have a natural harbor.
If you’re able to stay a bit longer, you can arrive in the cities by train or by vehicle, and then leave your keys in your room – you won’t need them. The cities are all connected by any number of walking and hiking trails through the steep hills reaching up from the sea. You can move between cities on these trails in any degree of hike. In some cases, you’ll be following steps carved out of the mountains originally only navigated by goats, but the scenery and experience are well worth your trouble.
Experience Cinque Terre
While in any of the villages that make up Cinque Terre, you must try the local seafood and wine. There are no major hotels, but there are bed and breakfast establishments. If you can, make your reservations based on a trusted recommendation as the quality of accommodations can very widely. But a good bed and breakfast can offer you a terrific platform from which to explore the villages as well as an excellent source of information on the best places to eat and visit in each.