The Cinque Terre are the most uncontaminated and fascinating natural part of Liguria and the Tyrrhenian coast.
To preserve this kingdom of wild scents as nature originally designed it, in 1997 UNESCO included the Cinque Terre in the World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape”.
Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso and Vernazza are the villages that give life to the Cinque Terre. Clinging with all their might on cliffs overhanging the sea.
The coast of the Cinque Terre is rocky and steep, but it is also full of enchanting bays and beaches and wonderful panoramic paths to discover. Not only sea for the Cinque Terre that inland hide beautiful medieval villages, characteristic sanctuaries, artisan shops and typical dishes all to be enjoyed.
Riomaggiore looks like a crib with all its coloured houses built vertically.
All the houses of Riomaggiore have a double entrance: one on the facade at the height of the alley, the other one is at the back, at the level of the upper street. The houses have had this particular structure since 1500 to allow a quick escape route in case of Saracen raids.
In Riomaggiore begins the famous Via dell’Amore, a path carved into the rock that leads to Manarola. The path is really wonderful: you will walk in close contact with nature and you will be able to hear distinctly the sound of the waves crashing down on the rocks.
Manarola is a kingdom of olive trees and vines, a characteristic village where the houses look like natural extensions of the long, narrow cliff.
Historians believe that the name Manarola refers to an ancient magna Roea, a large water mill wheel. In the lower part of the town you can still see the old mill or oil mill, refurbished by the National Park. On the upper part of the town stands the Church of St. Lawrence, built in 1338 in Gothic-Ligurian style, consisting of three beautiful naves and Baroque interiors. Not to be missed is also the Campanile Bianco, an ancient control and watchtower. Sea lovers will not be disappointed: going down to the beach you will find small corners of paradise from which you can enjoy a truly breathtaking view.
The ancient Roman village of Corniglia is located on an imposing cliff about one hundred meters high: it is the only village in the Cinque Terre that is almost completely inaccessible from the sea.
To reach Corniglia you have to climb the Lardarina, an exhausting brick staircase, 33 flights with 377 steps, or cross a carriage road that leads from the railway to the village. The name Corniglia derives from the Roman settler Corneliu, producer of the then famous white wine.
Corniglia consists of small alleys and narrow streets carved into the rock, with a beautiful pebble beach, the so-called Spiaggione, caressed by a crystal clear sea that you absolutely must not miss.
Situated on an imposing cliff we find the beautiful Vernazza. The magical and somewhat suspended atmosphere of the characteristic and medieval village of Vernazza will enchant you: mysterious alleys, hidden by the small and pretty little red, yellow and pink houses, which in summer crowd tourists from all over the world. Considered one of the hundred most beautiful villages in Italy, Vernazza preserves intact its long seafaring tradition, which has seen important condottieri and sailors pass through here. We recommend that you arrive in the city by sea, to get to know the beautiful little harbour guarded by pastel-coloured houses.
Monterosso al Mare, is the land that Eugenio Montale loved so much: here the Nobel Prize winner spent the summer and wrote “rocky and austere village, a refuge for fishermen and farmers“.
Even today it still maintains its long tradition as a fishing village and bears the signs of its struggles on the sea: the medieval tower, now the bell tower of the Church of San Giovanni, the Castle overlooking the sea, which includes three round towers, and the Aurora Tower, the last remaining of the 13 towers that in the sixteenth century embraced and protected the village. Once you have arrived in the narrow, labyrinthine alleys of Monterosso, you can choose to entertain yourself in the historic centre of the town, or stay in the modern Fegina, with its well-equipped beaches. The beach of Monterosso is the largest of the Cinque Terre and is sandy in some parts and rocky in others.