Time to go and explore Cinque Terre. Will you come with me ?
Cinque Terre means “five lands” which are the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. But just think of the region as a spider web of trails, towns, and villages. This stretch of coastline is a mix of tiny hamlets. Cinque Terre is clinging to the cliffs along gorgeous stretch of the Ligurian coast. Each town has maintained its own distinct charm and views from the trails in between are as breathtaking as ever.
The Cinque Terre is recognized by UNESCO as a place of worldwide importance to cultural and natural heritage. As of July 2014, Italy has 50 total sites inscribed on UNESCO’s list, making it the country with most World Heritage Sites. The terrain is so steep that for centuries foot paths were the only way to get from place to place. Backpackers discovered the CT in the 1970s. It is very easy to travel from one village to another one. You buy a ticket in a machine for 4 euros and you wait for the train. It comes by often. The tourists, who are not hiking, come by boat all day long . They eat gelato, do shopping and take pictures. They usually sleep in La Spezia ( south) or Levanto (north).
The first reason why we wanted to visit Cinque Terre was for hiking between the villages. The very first afternoon, we explored a trail that led us to a sanctuary. High above each of the five villages is a religious sanctuary, a small chapel that is an integrated part of the communities’ life and is connected by a stone path to the village. Those hikes are challenging but allow us to have great views. As soon as we were up a little, we could admire Vernazza and the harbor, the dome of the church, the castle and its tower.
Sactuary of the Madonna di Reggio.
We were on Via della Coasta. There was a sign with a shell and since we have walked on the Camino in Spain, we noticed the shells here and there. There was no fear of getting lost, plenty of signs with the markers white and red. There were nice little flowers along the trail. Really it was a trail just for us.
We only met two people later that afternoon. A real paradise. What could we ask for more? Good exercise, good weather, great views. It was a long hike but we always enjoy our walks. Maybe it was not many km but as it was up hill. I was happy we had a good training before coming to Italy.
Before dinner we had time to explore a little bit of Vernazza. On the next photo you see the church , the beach and piazza Marconi with its colorful umbrellas.
With its narrow streets and small squares, Vernazza is arguably the most charming of the five towns. With best access to the sea, it became wealthier than its neighbors (shown by the elaborate arcades, loggias and marble work). The village’s pink slate-roof houses and colorful squares contrast with the remains of the medieval fort and castle.
More on our time in Cinque Terre and more photos next week. Thanks – as always- for reading and your comment.
Ciao e grazie.