Just an hour and a half’s ride away from Sienna, Cinque Terre (which means five lands in Italian) is an adventurer’s paradise. Found along the northern region of the Italian Riviera, this collection of unique, but similarly vibrant towns boasts incredible coastal views and endless unpaved, rocky trails that feed into one another and amount to an unbelievable hiking experience. With the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Mediterranean at your side, the walk between towns gives you more value for your money than taking the train, which can also drop you off at each of the towns.
Sprinkled with vineyards and tunnels, this quaint and sometimes narrow path can be a great trip for a group of friends or also a romantic escape for couples. At one point between the towns, you end up in the Lover’s Walk, a charming slice of the trail that was carved into the mountain years and earned its name from the many lovers’ names and graffiti who decorate the walls and kissing sculptures in the tunnel.
This is a perfect destination for those looking for a bit of physical activity on their otherwise relaxing and indulgent trip. Of course, you can’t go wrong with pausing every now and then to take in the local culture and sit down at one of the many seafood restaurants waiting around the bend with tasty dishes like gnocchi with fresh pesto, linguini al mare, and the always delightful tiramisu. By the way, Italians are known for their welcoming and lively personalities so don’t be surprised if you get an extra liter of wine on the house if you reciprocate their high spirits.
For those seeking out a rush of adrenaline, you can also find that here in Cinque Terre! Because of the rugged nature of the cliff-edge towns, there are various points at which you can take a plunging dive into the waters, if dipping your feet at one of the wading pools isn’t to your fancy. I was daring enough to try it myself from a modest 20-foot jump, and boy was it thrilling!
Those who prefer a traditional aquatic outing might find consolation in the expansive stretches of beautiful golden beaches where you can find your typical boardwalk with cafes and gelaterias to quench your appetite after a long day of hiking. Overall, it’s an Italian paradise that anyone can fall in love with, so if you’ve yet to pick a summer destination, put it at the top of your list!
Hint: If you want to avoid the ever increasing prices of the hotels along the Riviera, head to La Spezia, a town just 10 minutes away by train from the first of the five towns (Monterosso al Mare).