Cinque Terre what to see : if you are leaving for your holiday in the Cinque Terre here's a complete guide on the must-see places to visit in each country, on the experiences to live and lots of practical information to organize at better your stay. But what are the Cinque Terre? Now famous all over the world, the Cinque Terre are five villages perched on the sea, surrounded by a natural vertical weighing and characterized by the pastel colors of the Genoese-style tower houses. Ancient fishing villages, long isolated due to the harshness of the territory, the inhabitants have been able to tame this asperity by building, over the centuries, the typical terraces along the slopes of the hills surrounding the towns. This immense work, which smacks of hard work and sweat, was and is a real struggle that has allowed us to grow vines and olive trees and, in part, to get out of the secular isolation, even if the first and true connection, if we exclude paths and mule tracks, was built at the end of the 800 with the construction of the railway. All this, together with the establishment of the Cinque Terre National Park, has helped to maintain the appearance of these small villages overlooking a crystal-clear sea over time.
Among the unmissable things to see at Riomaggiore there is the Church of San Giovanni Battista , the main religious building. Take the time to stop in the square to admire the beautiful neo-Gothic facade. From here you can go, following via Pecunia to the Castle of 1260 . From the terraces you can enjoy an excellent view. Take the stairs and reach via Telemaco Signorini, another scenic route over the village, the coast and the sea and you can reach the train station. If you still have time, from the Castle go down in via Colombo to go to the marina , the most photographed and famous spot in Riomaggiore. The colored tower-houses on both sides of the marina and reaching the rocks where the boats dock will have the best view to photograph the town. From the berth of the boats there is a short but pleasant walk created between the rocks and the rocky ridge to reach the rocky beach of the village and here enjoy a regenerating bath in the blue sea of ??the Cinque Terre.
The must-see attractions of Manarola lie mostly following the main street of the town, via Discovolo. It starts from the top with the church of San Lorenzo of 1338, in Gothic style on the outside and in Baroque style inside. In the square, in addition to a magnificent panorama over the town and the sea, you will also find the bell tower that was actually built on the remains of an existing lookout tower, the fifteenth-century oratory of the Disciplinanti della SS. Annunziata and the building of the Lazzaretto, or ancient hospital of San Rocco. Going down the street you will meet the building with the mill and its wheel , from which perhaps the toponym "Manarola" derives from "magna Roea", that is magna rota, a large water mill wheel. Going further down we meet Piazza Capellini, via Birolli and from here we arrive at the marina , the most scenic part of the village and the most photographed of the Cinque Terre, with its colorful houses that seem to come directly from the spur of rock that supports the town by the sea.
The only village of the Cinque Terre not to be directly on the sea, Corniglia awaits you with its magnificent views, offered from its elevated position on a rocky outcrop that juts out into the sea. Then take advantage of the many viewpoints like the one from the terrace of Santa Maria and the secular tower. Fulcrum of the country is the main square, Largo Taragio with the Monument to the Fallen and the oratory of Santa Caterina. Through a steep staircase with several ramps you reach the marina, with its small bay and the marina. In the upper part of the village it is worth visiting the Church of San Pietro , dated 1334, built in Gothic-Ligurian style by Comancini masters. If you arrive by train, to reach the village there is the infamous Lardarina "stairway , a long brick staircase consisting of 33 ramps for a total of 382 steps.
If you want a bit of tranquility, explore the steep and narrow carruggi that go down towards the main road. Here, from time to time, there are glimpses of the sea and of the terraces that surround the town, but do not forget to admire the houses you encounter, characterized by more elaborate and refined architectural forms than those of the other Cinque Terre countries, such as decorated portals and arcades. From the main street of Vernazza, via Roma, you reach the little square located in in front of the marina, where there is also the romantic Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia , whose original core in Romanesque style dates back to the 12th century by the Magistri Antelami who worked on a previous religious building. From here, through the uphill internal carruggi, you can reach the Castello Doria , the ancient "castrum Vernatio", built as a maritime base for the Obertenghi, lords of Vernazza. Symbol of the castle and the town is the tower that stands at about 70 meters above the sea at the end of the town.
Monterosso is divided into two parts, the old one and the new one. Arriving by train, once you get off the station take the promenade to the left to reach the old town , characterized by the massive size of the remains of the 'castrum' obertengo, with the beautiful parish church of San Giovanni Battista and typical Ligurian carruggi. If instead you take the promenade to the right you will go to the new part, called La Fegina, where the unmissable attraction is represented by the Statue of the Giant or Neptune , which dominates the free beach, of large dimensions and set in a rocky outcrop. It is a sculpture in reinforced concrete and iron made in 1910 by Arrigo Minerbi of Ferrara and engineer Levacher. About halfway between the new and old part, in a dominant position on the hill of San Cristoforo, is the Capuchin Convent with the church of San Francesco which preserves the "Crucifixion" of the famous Flemish painter Antoon van Dyck.
The Cinque Terre are a destination for trekkers who come from all over the world to walk the famous trails of the Cinque Terre National Park. The paths wind along the coast, halfway up the coast or reach the sanctuaries that overlook each village and offer incomparable landscapes and views. You will pass through centuries-old vineyards, olive groves that alternate with lush Mediterranean vegetation but also more barren and sun-scorched areas, immersed in an almost lunar rocky landscape. They can be followed by everyone thanks to the presence of different difficulties and differences in level to be faced. Among them, the Blue Path, the most famous and spectacular route of the Cinque Terre. It has been traced, over the centuries, by those who habitually used it to move, so in some places it is a real mule track that winds along the waterfront connecting the five villages between them. However, to date some sections remain closed due to hydrogeological instability such as the Via dell 'Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola (592-1 (SVA2) and between Manarola and Corniglia (592-2 (SVA2).
A holiday in the Cinque Terre means necessarily enjoying its magnificent sea. A very "special" sea and coast, because, if we exclude the Monterosso beach , the largest and most equipped of the Cinque Terre, the other beaches of the villages are small and mostly gravelly or pebbly. The coast is overhanging the sea with cliffs that are often completely vertical, a natural element that has made the landscape of the Cinque Terre known throughout the world. The steep course of the coast continues even below sea level. Characterized therefore by considerable depths, the waters of the Cinque Terre are considered among the most varied and rich in marine fauna of all Liguria, thanks also to its wide expanse of Posidonia Oceanica . They are therefore very suitable for those who, during the summer season, want to devote themselves to underwater exploration and snorkeling. Off the Cinque Terre it is not unusual to encounter dolphins , fin whales, copodogli, bottlenose dolphins and strenelles since this stretch of coast falls within the Cetacean Sanctuary .
The Cinque Terre offer a maritime line service ( navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it ): with ferries and boats you can reach and visit each of the Cinque Terre villages, but the advice is to embark at Monterosso or La Spezia for to be able to admire all the countries from the unusual view from the sea. Furthermore, in every country you can book boat trips organized by private individuals who will take you to discover the bluest sea and the most hidden caves and crevices of this very particular and indented coast. And there are plenty of diving services with canoe and kayak rental. In this regard, during the summer season, you can also take advantage of the Path of the Sea, established by the Marine Protected Area of ??the Cinque Terre: 600 meters of lane dedicated to bathers between Vernazza and Monterosso. It allows you to swim and paddle safely in the Cinque Terre sea, forbidden to navigation and well marked by numbered buoys to calculate the distances to be covered and a clearly visible summit.
All countries abound with small restaurants, typical restaurants and historical shops where you can taste the recipes, the typical dishes and the local products: first courses with pesto, anchovies from Monterosso , vegetable and rice cake, octopus cold salads, focaccia, farinata, cod or whitebait fritters, stuffed or white muscles (mussels), bruschetta enriched with fragrant local extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. And among the desserts, don't miss the monteroxin cake, a cake filled with cream, offered by some Monterosso pastry shops. And the fish dishes can only be accompanied by the renowned Cinque Terre DOC white wines , produced with the Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino vines. You will be spoiled for choice even for wine bars! And for breakfast? Go to a bar and ask for the focaccia with cappuccino : the bartender won't be surprised because this is the typical La Spezia breakfast. Many turn up their noses, but try and change your mind!
Given the tourism of an international nature, the Cinque Terre are now a travel destination visited almost all year round, but like all tourist resorts the greatest influx is recorded during the summer, from late spring until September. During these months, the overcrowding is really a lot, so be patient because at the train stations there could be queues. To avoid them, take advantage of the Cinque Terre Card (see below) which will allow you to use the train in a single solution. In the winter months, on the other hand, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Cinque Terre in peace but you will not have the opportunity to swim and many shops and activities may be closed, as well as the paths that, in case of bad weather, they are forbidden. Our advice is to visit the Cinque Terre at the beginning of spring or in September: if the weather is mild you can enjoy a swim in the blue sea without the crowds of tourists.
The Cinque Terre can be reached by train via the Genoa-La Spezia railway line with regional trains that stop in all countries. The train, together with the boat , is undoubtedly the most convenient way to visit the Cinque Terre and the Ligurian Riviera. In each station of the Cinque Terre you will find the Info Points of the National Park, where you can request information and publications and where to buy the Cinque Terre Card, a special card issued by the Park Authority, which includes various services including trains, shuttle buses, use of equipped areas and routes and the Blue Trail. Conversely it must be said that the car is not the best means of transport to visit the Cinque Terre. In fact the morphology of the territory, characterized by high hills overlooking the sea, means that the roads are narrow and steep with many curves. Furthermore, there are limited parking spaces, however, always outside the built-up areas that are closed to private traffic. If you decide to travel by car, read here our directions on the roads and parking lots in the Cinque Terre.
Due to the territorial conformation of the villages, there are no large hotels in the Cinque Terre, but smaller, more intimate and familiar accommodation facilities. And in this sense there is really the embarrassment of choice . It is easier to find real hotels in the immediate vicinity such as La Spezia, Levanto, Bonassola and Deiva Marina. However, there is no lack of hotels in Manarola, Vernazza, Riomaggiore and above all in Monterosso al Mare. Here you can search and book a hotel in Cinque Terre online, in the heart of the National Park.
At the Info Points of the Cinque Terre National Park you can find the staff that will provide you with all the information you need for your stay on trails, restaurants, transport and tourist accommodation:
The train, surely the best means of travel to visit the Cinque Terre and be enchanted by the beauty of the Ligurian sea. From March 16th the 5 Terre Express train is in service to travel comfortably between La Spezia Centrale, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Levanto with a single single fare ticket, taking advantage of the offer of 100 trains a day, 7 days a week, every 15 minutes