location: Cinque Terre, Italy
Patrick and I have visited the quaint fisherman towns of Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a string of 5 seaside villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) that have the picturesque colorful houses and rocky Italian coastline. This area is really known for Pesto, anchovies, and lemons. These little towns have so much to offer for a enriching Italy experience with full relaxation. Here is my guide to Cinque Terre.
Map of Cinque Terre (source: Consorzio Turistico Cinque Terre)
Monterosso Al Mare is the most north of the villages and is where we booked our stay. Monterosso has a New Town side with access to a small pebble beach and Old Town side which is tucked away up cobblestone paths. We stayed on the Old Town side due be away from the more "touristy" area. Going right after college graduation with little money, we ended up booking a tiny studio apartment. But hey! We didn't stay in the apartment much anyways and it had hot running water for showers. I would suggest looking at AirBnb.
Exploring Old Town
One morning when the weather was a bit chillier we decided to explore Old Town. It is almost like you are taken back to medieval times. We first grabbed an espresso and pastry from Midi Bar. There is the Church of San Giovanni Battista, bell watch tower right off the water, and a cemetery higher up with incredible views. It was so fun to just forget everything and wander through the streets looking at the houses and way of life.
Enoteca Internazionale - Wine Bar
We stumbled upon the oldest wine bar in Monterosso and had an afternoon snack and glass of wine. We had read that anchovies were a must have in Cinque Terre, as well as lemoncello. So we order a plate of anchovies, meat, and cheese. And I must say that the anchovies were quite good, very salty ha! They have wine by the glass, bottle, or even bottles to go. We even bought a bottle for watching the sunset later that night.
We also spent an entire day sipping shandys on the beach. The beach was larger sand with small pebbles. Just spread out your towel and enjoy a lovely ocean breeze. There are also some cafes really close to the beach to grab snacks and lunch. And don't forget sunglasses and a sun hat!
Hike to Vernazza from Monterosso
Vernazza is the next village south of Monterosso and has the best view of Vernazza from this hike. This was about a 2 hour trail that lined the coast. It was a moderate trail but well worth it. The beginning is like a never ending stairway to heaven ha but persist and it gets better. Just remember to pack tons of water in a small little backpack that can double as your purse and hold any souvenirs you get along the way. We did not stay in Vernazza long since it was the MOST crowded of all the villages that we visited and was overrun with tourists. We explored a bit more off the beaten path and grabbed a pesto & pepperoni pizza for lunch from a street vendor. After a quick lunch break we went to the Parco Nazionale Delle which is this beautiful castle like feature with incredible views.
Sunbathe or Swim
We took the train from Vernazza to Riomaggiore. As soon as you get off the train station we went to the right to find most of the city and this little rocky alcove. It is such a beautiful place to sunbathe or if you are daring take a swim! Make sure to bring swimsuits and a small towel (and don't forget a waterproof bag for your wet swimsuit!!). There are some shops & restaurants around to grab snacks if you want to picnic here.
We wanted to go on the lovers walk, which is a tiny trial along the cliff from Riomaggiore to Manarola, but unfortunately it was closed when we got there due to landslides. So if it is open you might want to take the trail to Manarola. If not just take the train like we did!
The "Pinterest" Photo & Sunset Dinner
Manarola is the city that you probably see most when looking up Cinque Terre on Pinterest or other sites. This "shot" above is the money shot and must see while in Cinque Terre. As soon as you exit the train station take a left until you wander up to the restaurant, Nessum Dorma. Right outside the restaurant is the picturesque view. We looked up the time of the sunset before embarking to know when to time us being there to enjoy it. The coloring of the houses during the sunset is amazing to witness. After the sun set we enjoyed a delicious meat and cheese board with limoncello spritz at Nessum Dorma. The view was incredible to see the city at night as well.
We unfortunately did not get the chance to explore Corniglia. But here are a few things to check out if you get the chance to go:
Comment below if you have been to Cinque Terre and what you saw or ate!
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