On Italy’s north west coast you will find the Cinque Terre or the “Five Lands” in English. On this rugged coast of the Italian Riviera there are five villages to hop between and adventures to be had while submerged in the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over centuries terraces have been built on the rough, steep cliffs that overlook the sea, creating breathtaking views of the Italian countryside. The villages can only be accessed by boat, train, or hiking trails. They can not be accessed by cars from the outside adding to their tucked away feel. The area is known for it’s old-world character and lack of industrial development.
You can find yourself lost-in a good way-in the Five Lands. These were once quiet fishing villages that ingeniously found ways to grow wine grapes on almost vertical slopes. Now this area relies almost completely on tourism and can be packed full during peak seasons. Be sure to research places to stay and have reservations ahead of time if you want to sleep tucked away in one of these tiny villages on your trip. Read on to learn about each village’s unique charm, thanks to cinqueterreonline.com.
The first of the Five Lands is the village of Monterosso, which boasts the best beaches of the Cinque Terre villages. It is said to have the most wine shops, artisan shops, and hotels, and restaurants. A visit to the church of Capuchin Father is a must where spectacular panoramic views of the village and promontories enclosing the Cinque Terre can be viewed. The church houses a painting of the Cambiaso and “Crucifixion” by Anthony van Dyck.
Moving south we come across the village of Vernazza. With its natural pier and amphitheatre like shape this village is perhaps the most picturesque of the five. It has castle ruins on top of one the hills overlooking the village.
South still is the village of Corniglia. Perched on top of a steep promontory this village has two small beaches on either side. The Church of San Pietro is considered one of the most significant works of the gothic-ligurian style period. Getting to this village is a bit tougher than others having to climb the steep slope from either side.
Next is the village of Manorola. This village has more of a rustic feel than its northern counterparts. It is surrounded by vines and is situated on a stream. The wine from this village is very famous and should definitely be sampled while here. The part of the path between this village and its southern neighbor is the easiest part on the trek. Be sure to visit the the Church of San Lorenzo with a lovely rose window dating back to the 14th century.
Lastly is the village of Riomaggiore. It rises up from the water at a dramatic and beautiful slope creating a stadium view of the structures built there. During the day you can hear church bells chiming and in the evening you can hear boats going out for night fishing along with the other critters living in the water. It has an ancient stone castle about which not much is known. It was built to protect the villagers from attack.
Enjoy your journey through the Cinque Terre and marvel as the five little lovely villages built on steep slopes with unique Italian charm.
Photo Credit: Black Rock Photo