Cinque Terre or the “Five Lands” sits along the western coast of Italian Tuscany. Built into the jagged cliff side, these interconnected towns are part of a UNESCO heritage site. Each with their own secluded bay and pretty scenery, it is easy to see why visitors flock here each year. But there is a local concern that the area may be losing its authenticity in order to cope with the increasing tourist trade that the unusual area is pulling in. The worry is so much, there is a plan in place for visitor numbers to be capped for future years.
The Faraway Bug travelled to Cinque Terre to explore…
Composed of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, the five coastal towns of Cinque Terre are found in the region of Liguria. Known for their fresh fish and colourful building scenery, thousands of tourists flock to the area each year to explore. Unfortunately the tourist trade, once sought after in Cinque Terre, is seen by many as spoiling the authenticity of the villages in recent years with the quaint and quiet atmosphere giving way to the flow of constant chattering throughout the streets.
As well as a bay or beach, each village offers a plethora of cafes, restaurants and bars to accommodate the sheer volume of guests coming through.
Hiking trails provide the option to walk between some of the villages, although one of these was closed for us due to a recent rock fall, so it is worth checking the availability of these before you start at one of the tourist offices.
Generally you will find it is calmer the further away you from the centre. While most will make their way down the main streets to the coastline views, one of the most pleasurable ways to find your way around Cinque Terre is through the exploration of the twisting side streets, covered archways and stairs at each location. This will offer you a true taste of village existence, a real slice of riviera life and it is just as pretty as a golden beach in its own way.
The easiest way to reach Cinque Terre is by train, being an easy reach from Pisa and Genoa and with La Spezia being right around the corner. The destination is also reachable by ferry from various locations.
We visited Cinque Terre in just one day with two hours at each stop but most argue that the area deserves a three or four day allowance to full appreciate it. If I had more time there to spare, I would have taken one of the many boat tours available for that twilight sea view of the five lands.
It may not be the place that some once knew, you may have to look past a few of the weeds to see the bloom. Cinque Terre is one of those unique places that leaves an imprint on you long after your visit. Be sure not to miss it off your Italian wish-list.
Cinque Terre Highlights
Monterosso – The only village gifted with a sandy beach
Vernazza – The harbour views are a key draw here
Corniglia – This location offers a photo opportunity of all five villages at it highest point
Manarola – In my opinion the prettiest view of the colourful villages exists in this village
Riomaggiore – The largest land comes complete with bird watching centre and pretty pebble beach.