cinque terre italy

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, which means Five Lands, consists of five small coastal villages Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. It is located in the Italian region of Liguria and is considered one of Italy’s jewels and is a very popular tourist destination. Each town is a variation on the same theme: a pastel jumble of homes crouching in a gully like crusty sea creatures in a tide pool, undisturbed by traffic or modern development, though the northern-most town, Monterosso, is completely different. It is very beachy-resorty, with not much to see beyond the boardwalk apart from modern apartment blocks and hotels, it is nothing like the narrow, crooked streets of the other towns, lined with colorful old houses stacked haphazardly on top of each other.

You can get in this place by plane, train or car. Although getting around the town by car is not that good of a method because there is little parking and what there is lies well outside the villages. To get from one village to the next involves driving all the way up to the high road and back down again. Frequent trains link all five villages with each other, but a way better but a more expensive option to get around are the boats that run up and down this part of the coast, it is however worth the money, since it is a very scenic adventure. Most of the people choose walking as a way to explore this place, especially on the main coastal paths which are subject to park entrance fees. It’s worth exploring some of the higher paths to Volastra (above Manarola), Monte Negro (above Riomaggiore) or paths that begin outside of the park such as the trail between Levanto and Monterosso. In order to walk along the trails between the villages, you must purchase a pass (5 euros), which is available at the information offices near the train stations at any of the five villages, as well as the stations at Levanto and La Spezia. You can pay a small supplement (an extra €3) for the pass and get unlimited travel between the villages, Levanto, and La Spezia on regional trains for the duration of the pass.

There are plenty things to do and this place boasts some of the best coastline hiking trails in the world. You can also see some specific things during defined parts of the year like the lighted Nativity in Manarola (Dec. 8th till late Jan.). The world’s biggest Lighted nativity; The patron festivity of the 5 towns (all between late May and Aug.), a mix of religious ceremony and popular parties; The pirates attack in Vernazza (mid summer), a celebration of the successful defense of the town from a Saracen attack occurred during the middle age; The harvest (early/mid Sept.) and wine making, when men’s shoulders and women’s heads are still used as they were hundreds of years ago; The sea storms (frequent in winter), a great show of nature’s power. This is surely one of the most interesting places on earth.

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