Cinque Terre is located on the northern coast of Italy, along a coastal belt stretching over nine miles, and is home to the most pristine areas in Liguria. It is an area composed of five (cinque) villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, and Vernazza. The surrounding hillsides, the coastline, and all five of the villages are part of the Cinque Terrre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each village has its own charm, and the Cinque Terre is perfect for those a piedi (on foot). If you can only visit one place in Italy, try Cinque Terre, it has something for everyone. Footpaths, trains, and boats connect the villages to each other; there are no cars. The villages are built into steep cliffs, and stack together like brightly colored puzzle pieces. The food offered will appease most palates; with offerings of olives, pesto, fresh focaccia, seafood, anchovies, wines, and the ubiquitous, delicious gelato!
Riomaggiore- The path begins here in Riomaggiore. Find your way to the Piazza Vignaiolo, an amazing lookout to take in the breath-taking scenery. Amazing sites to see, if you have the time: Church of San Giovanni Battista, Santuario di Nostra Madonna di Montenero, Oratorio di San Rocco, Oratorio di Santa Maria Assunta, Church of San Giovanni Battista, Groppo, and the castle, Castello di Riomaggiore. Walk along the Via dell’Amore, the meeting point for lovers living in Riomaggiore and Manarola.
Manarola is next on the path from the south. Manarola is where you stop to enjoy the beauty of an exceptionally lovely village, take in the wine, the grapevines, the lemon trees. Visit the Chiesa di San Lorenzo.
Corniglia is located atop a promontory, surrounded by vineyards and terraces, with one of its sides facing the sea. The Guvano is a beautiful beach to visit. The Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina is a small church, built in the 18th century, and it is still in use. There is a 380 step staircase, the Scalinata Landarina, which connects to the village, and Corniglia is renowned for the staircase. Chiesa di San Pietro
Monterosso al Mare is located in a small gulf, and is protected by a reef. It has an “old town” and a “new town” diversion. It is famous for its lush lemon trees, its white wines, its grapes, and its olives. It is home to the Monterosso Giant, a sculpture of Neptune. You can visit the beach, the convent of Monterosso al Mare, St. John the Baptist church, the Castle, or explore the village. Some other sites to see in Monterosso al Mare: Borgo Antico, Monumento a San Francesco d’Assisi, Oratorio della Confraternita dei Neri Mortis et Orationis, Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista, Santuario di Soviore, Torre Aurora (Dawn Tower),and the Monumento a Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Vernazza is the only natural harbor, of the five villages. A few of the sites to see: Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church, Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio, and the castle, Castello Doria.
The Cinque Terre offers great hiking, a chance to disconnect from the unnecessary, and a chance to connect to the necessary.