Italy’s gorgeous Cinque Terre coast is home to five unique cities. Each city looks different from the next and, considering they’re a two- to five-minute train ride from one another, the fact that the cities are so different makes exploring Cinque Terre that much more fun.
Monterosso is the largest out of the five cities and has the most accommodations. It is also the only town with a “long” stretch of sandy beach. The town is picturesque and the beach itself is worth the visit. Catch a cool drink at one of the local beach restaurants and then rent a chair and umbrella, relax, and listen to the waves crash on the shore.
Vernazza quickly became my favorite city of Cinque Terre. It’s easy to see why this is considered the most photographed town of the five upon arrival. Hop off the train and become instantly submerged into Venetian-styled streets with tall, colorful homes and shops. The walk to the cove is fantastic with little shops all around and people rushing all about. Once through the city, reach the little cove that Vernazza is known for. Buildings go right up to the water and there’s a long rocky pier that almost circles the shore of the city. It’s a perfect spot to let little ones play in the water as the rocky pier protects the cove from any waves, so the water is calm and tranquil.
The only city of the five to not on the sea, Corniglia was built upon a cliff a hundred meters above sea level. This village gets the least amount of tourists due to its location, but this little town will give visitors the best glimpse at what it’s like when the tourists aren’t swarming the Italian Riviera. The locals tell tourists to not waste their time here (our hosts told us this right off the bat), but the city is worth a visit because it is so different.
Hop off the train, take a left, and head down to the town’s tiny harbor. You’ll come across many shops with beautiful, handmade pottery, delicious wines, shells, and so much more. We found a store that sells paintings by a local artist who takes slate from the surrounding coastline and then paints beautiful beach scenes on them. (This little shop is definitely worth a visit!) You’ll also find the famous path Via dell’Amore or Lover’s Lane. This scenic path leads you on to the last little city, Riomaggiore. The walk takes about twenty minutes.
This town is considered to be the calmest and most peaceful city of the Cinque Terre coast. It’s a cluster of colorful buildings splayed around the natural rock harbor. If you stop and visit this city–which I highly suggest you do–you must stop and see the Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero. This beautiful building offers a once-in-a-lifetime panoramic view of the Cinque Terre coastline.
By Courtney Hall