Nestled along the eastern coast of the Ligurian Riviera lies one of Europe’s favorite hidden treasures: Cinque Terre.
Built along nearly 15km of coastline, Cinque Terre (Italian: five lands) is comprised of five small fishing villages, with the oldest (Monterosso al Mare) dating as far back as 643 CE. The appeal of Cinque Terre lies in the traditional, rustic lifestyle that has endured for over a millennium—it’s evident in the beautiful array of pastel-colored homes set high above in the hillside, where sinuous walkways, hidden trails and winding vineyards envelop the terraced landscape with picturesque charm; it’s seen in the exquisite scenery of garrigue and maquis flora found throughout the coastal region; and it can be experienced on the Via dell’Amore (Street of the loving), conveniently located by the Mediterranean Sea, where the playful iridescence of the evening’s light is softly reflected by the warm sea. And so it’s no coincidence that UNESCO added the collective charm of these five villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) to its list as a World Heritage Site in 1997.
For 12 euros you can purchase a pass from La Spezia (or in Riomaggiore) to walk along the coastline or trek the trails from Riomaggiore all the way up to Monterosso. In summer the swimming competition 5 Terre Swimming takes place, designed to promote the sport and the region. Here, wine is as sacrosanct as the view is exquisite, so be sure to treat your taste buds to a glass of locally produced Sciacchetrà (a dessert white wine), which has garnered a serious following amongst locals and wine connoisseurs alike.
For a romantic getaway, head over to Cinque Terre Residence, located in Riomaggiore (the largest of the five villages). A much more affordable option is Ostello Tramonti, located only 10 minutes away by bus or taxi in the nearby town of Biassa (they also offer free-chartered rides to and from Riomaggiore). For a gastronomic experience try Gastronomia San Martino, and be sure to order pesto with your pasta (pesto was, after all, created in Genoa, also located in the Liguria region). And, of course, no meal can be complete without gelato, which is an absolute must anywhere in Europe, but especially true in Italy. Make sure to head over to Alberto Gelateria for the best gelato in Cinque Terre.
Check out the photo gallery below to see why Cinque Terre remains one of Europe’s most sought-after Holidays!