Villages in the Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, Italy
The Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is a National Park that encompasses about 10 miles of the rocky coastline of northern Italy. Within the park are five cliff hugging villages tucked away in small inlets. These five villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore have stood still in time for hundreds of years. Until the second part of last century they were not accessible by car or train, but only by boat or foot paths. As a result the residents adapted to their natural surroundings. Buildings start at the sea and climb the cliffs towards the sky, and terraced hills have been cultivated with vineyards and olive groves. Today the Cinque Terre is a popular alternative to the big towns that dot the Italian and French Riviera.
The Cinque Terre is a national park, and there is an entry fee to help preserve the very fragile environment. You must purchase a Cinque Terre card upon arrival, they are available for one, three or seven day visits. It pays for upkeep on the terraced hillside, paths and rail lines. With this card you get a map and are allowed unlimited use of rail lines between La Spezia and Levanto, as well as use of all hiking paths and small public buses operating in some towns. You can purchase the card at the Tourist Offices or the train stations, and you may be asked to show your card or purchase one as you exit a train. There are check points on the hiking trails where you are required to show your card, so buy one...it's for a good cause.
Cinque Terre Activities
Visiting the Cinque Terre is more about enjoying the unique environment and less about seeing a specific sight. Each village has its own character even though they are only a few minutes apart by train. Spend your time hiking, boating or taking the train from one village to the next. The centuries old footpaths wind their way from sea level to nearly 1,000 feet above the sea leading through olive groves, vineyards and orchards.
As you discover each town, take time to walk its narrow streets and explore its shops. When you've had enough walking, relax at the beach or one of the quaint harbors and enjoy a glass of the local wine (see food and wine below).
Hiking the Cinque Terre
Five main foot paths link each of the towns of the Cinque Terre. They vary in length and degree of physical effort, and are often uneven and include lots of stairs. We've listed the approximate time required and level of difficulty for each. Don't forget, you need to have a Cinque Terre Card to use the paths, and be prepared: wear comfortable walking / hiking shoes, bring water, and do not litter.
Riomaggiore to Manarola- 25 minutes - easy walk
Manarola to Corniglia- 1 hour and 10 minutes- easy to moderate
Corniglia to Vernazza- 1 hour and 45 minutes - Strenuous hike
Vernazza to Monterosso- 2 hours and 15 minutes - Strenuous hike
Food and Wine of the Cinque Terre
Vineyards and olive groves are everywhere on the hills, so wine and olive oil are a staple in the Cinque Terre. Fish, particularly anchovies are also extremely popular here. Here is a list of what you can expect:
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