The Cinque Terre (pronounced CHEEN-kweh TEHR-reh) is the name given to five fishing and wine-making villages along the eastern Ligurian coast. Cinque means “five”, terre means “lands”: Five Lands. The villages from north to south are:
The Cinque Terre are a Unesco World Heritage Site and tell of a world stopped in time, a landscape made up of villages of sailors with colorful houses and unspoiled nature; territories where life flows slowly. The beaten paths have dug passages where it seemed impossible to pass and the villages were born where the sea creeps more forcefully forming inlets among the rocks. All the Cinque Terre villages are colorful, overlooking the sea, and still preserve intact the craftsmanship, the gastronomy and the original fishermen’s harbors, which today as yesterday are populated with fishing boats.
What to do and see in Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is known for its scenic hiking trails, crystal-clear waters, and colorful villas lining the coastline. What many people might not know when visiting Cinque Terre is that each village has its own personality and specialties. If you’re looking to visit this esteemed Italy vacation spot but don’t know what to do in each of the towns, read below for our top recommendations.
Monterosso is the largest of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre. Here, you will find a sea of colorful umbrellas along and quaint foccacherias and gelaterias that will make your mouth water. If you’re looking to spend a day on the beach, Monterosso is the ideal location. We recommend renting a chaise lounge on a private beach and sipping on a local white wine as you watch the ocean waves crash along the coastline.
Restaurant Tip: Ristorante L’Ancora della Tortuga
Where to Stay in Monterosso: Hotel Porto Roca
Spend the afternoon hiking and taking photos in Vernazza. Not only is this village picturesque from every angle (who are we kidding, all of Cinque Terre is postcard-perfect), but it is home to the most beautiful hiking trails you’ll ever encounter. Toward the back of the town, you will find a hiking trail leading to Corniglia, or you can hike toward Castello Doria, an old castle dating back to the thirteenth century, perfect for an Instagram-worthy shot at sunset.
Restaurant Tip: Ristorante Belforte
Where to Stay in Vernazza: La Mala’
Riomaggiore is a perfect blend of the old and new. It is welcoming to tourists but also presents Italian life in its most authentic form. As you walk along the cobblestone paths, you will notice dozens of locals and visitors alike enjoying fried seafood or a glass of the Cinque Terre DOC wine down by the harbor. Grab a seafood cone and claim a spot where you can dip your feet in the crystal-clear sea.
Restaurant Tip: Ristorante Fuori Rotta
Though it may be the smallest of the five villages, Corniglia is known to be the most unique. It is perfect for a quiet afternoon of unwinding after a long hike in the hot sun. Take your time exploring charming back roads and indulge your sweet tooth at a gelateria that uses natural, local ingredients. Step into local shops for a selection of handmade beach towels and shawls that you’ll need in the days to come.
Restaurant Tip: Ristorante Il Buongustaio Cucina Casalinga
Manarola is considered the most romantic village in all of Cinque Terre. Stop in a local grocery to pick up some treats for an afternoon picnic with your special someone. You can’t leave Cinque Terre without trying pesto; whether it be on pizza, pasta, or a hearty slice of focaccia, it is an unforgettable experience for your taste buds. After picking up some pesto, make sure to get a bottle of local white wine to add a special touch to your outing. If an al fresco luncheon isn’t your style, bring along a beach blanket and relax on some rocks near the marina.