Cinque terre is the hidden treasure of the Italian Riviera.
It’s a wild, authentic and romantic destination.
Cinque Terre is a national park between Portofino and La Spezia. Its name means the “Five lands”, in reference to the five fishermen villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The houses painted in oranges, yellows and earthy reds hang between steep slopes and the Ligurian sea.
The region has been added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites in 1997. This destination is highly popular in the summer but the number of tourists drops dramatically from September until April so it is best to visit it off season.
The first inhabitants settled there in the 12th and 13th century. They lived off the sea and the terraces they built on the slopes of the mountain.
Still difficult to access from the land, the easiest way to reach the villages is by sea, as it has been for hundreds of years. A series of hiking trail links them all, one of them is appropriately named “via dell’Amore”. The tracks go through cultivated hills of lemon and olive trees and vineyards and offer amazing views of the sea. Some trails can be closed in the winter because of the wind and rain so it is best to check before starting the journey. There is also a train that goes from Levanto to La Spezia, passing through the five villages. For a 100% Italian experience, it’s best to rent a Fiat 500 and circle through the very tiny and steep mountain roads. Make sure to pray all the Gods that you won’t meet another car coming in the opposite direction though.
To get in the mood:
- Read: Italo Calvino - The Baron in the Trees
- Listen: Modena City Ramblers - Ebano
- Drive: An old red Fiat 500