The Cinque Terre is a section of coastline in the north west of Italy. It is also a set of five villages that are linked by a beautiful walking trail; Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Together the villages, coastline and surrounding hills make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination.
I’d heard that the Cinque Terre was beautiful. Well, it.is.spectacular. The whole day felt like we were living in a movie set (a really good one). Even the 6 hour round journey on the train to get there and a freakin’ hot slog up the hill didn’t dent my enthusiasm for this place. It is that beautiful.
In the morning, we caught a regional train from Milan to Monterosso train station. Like I said, it takes about 3 hours to get there.
There is a walking trail that connects the five villages, so we walked up in the hills above the villages, through the grapevines and peach trees – from Monterosso to Vernazza. (There are no roads connecting the towns, so you either have to walk, boat or catch the train). I thought we’d just be swimming and lazing about that day, and didn’t really consider that the walk between villages could be strenuous, so only wore sandals. Big mistake…
It was a hot day and while the walk is only 3.5 km, it takes about an hour and a half. The trail is steep and you have to watch where you’re going. There seemed to be quite a few other tourists like me, who were unprepared for the big hike up the hill (that made me feel better).
The walk itself is great; we stopped and looked at old buildings, vineyards, peach orchids and blackberries bushes. You get fantastic views leaving Monterosso and arriving at Vernazza.
The anticipation of a swim was pretty much killing us all by the time we reached Vernazza. So we went straight to the water and had a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water, surrounded by the old town. After our swim, we walked around the town, admiring the shops and stopping for a gelati (nutella for me! because it is the best). Then we pretty much just walked around Vernazza admiring the general splendor until it was time to catch the train home.
The whole day was a dream. You’ll get what I mean, when you check out the photos…