The Commedia dell’Arte and Italian Interior Design groups got together this year and went on a one-day trip to Cinque Terre. It was an amazing day. The weather was absolutely perfect and the company was even better.
If you haven’t ever been to Cinque Terre, it should definitely be on your list to visit while in Italy. Cinque Terre is located in the rugged area of the Liguria region. In Italian, “Cinque” means five and “terre” means land or town so the name of the area translates to 5 towns. Cinque Terre was an area quite unknown to the rest of the world-that is, until an American backpacker discovered the hidden towns and wrote about them in his travel book back in 1978. Since then, Cinque Terre has seen a tremendous growth in tourism.
Before the first train was built in 1870, only boats and walking paths were used. Now, tourists can travel easily by train or boat though sometimes the trains are not as reliable as you would like (for example, our train was cancelled 15 minutes before it was supposed to take us back to La Spezia and we had to wait another 30 minutes). But despite all this, it is worth visiting.
The 5 towns are set in the mountains, all connected by train. To get there, you take a train to La Spezia. Try to get on the train early as it fills up fast although it is not a long train ride. Then you get off where you want to. Each town has something unique to offer.
Here is some information provided to us by the tour guides regarding the towns:
Riomaggiore-It is known for its historic character and its wine which is produced locally. The La via dell’Amore (Lover’s Way) connects Riomaggiore with the next town (Manarola) though unfortunately it has been closed for a bit because of the mudslides caused by the weather.
Manarola-The church of San Lorenzo is the most famous landmark in this town which was built in 1338.
Corniglia-This is the only town in Cinque Terre that is not in contact with the sea. It is set in the rocky cliffs which means it takes almost 400 stairs to get there! Make sure you try some local pesto there!
Vernazza-Many people think this is the most beautiful of the towns. It has quaint shops and the historical monument Santa Margherita di Antiochia, which is a Roman-Genovese style church.
Monterosso al Mare-This is the largest of the towns and it is the first one to be documented. Here there is a beach (rocky) and many shops and restaurants.
The Hike-We started out in Vernazza. Probably not the best idea to start at the hottest hour of the day but we did. The first 20 minutes were a nightmare though you can stop along the path and take some pictures (which allows you to catch your breath a bit). The views are just breathtaking. The colors are just spectacular with the sun and the blue sea against the green mountains. Enjoy the time as you pass other hikers from different countries. The path can be small at times so you may have to wait to let others pass.
We had a fabulous time and finished that part of the hike in about 1 hour and 45 minutes. We went straight to eat in Monterosso and had some pesto pasta and some cold white wine. Then some of the group went to cool down in the water. The day went flying by and we got some great pictures. Everyone wants to go back there but next time spend at least 2 days there.