18 June 2012

Liguria, Part Due

Cinque Terre

After chilling for couple of days in the pretty Portovenere we went on a ferry ride to the famous Cinque terre (5 villages). Ferries from Portovenere leave every hour and are the most comfortable and easy way to reach any of the 5 rocky villages.
Once upon a time, the Cinque Terre actually was a collection of 5 “sleepy fishing villages” – unlike today, when that phrase is still used to describe what has become one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

Thanks to a combination of spectacular views, great weather, and Rick Steves, the Cinque Terre is no longer “off the beaten path.” In fact, although it remains a little more difficult to reach than Italy’s big cities and hasn’t been overrun by mega-hotels, the Cinque Terre is well-equipped to handle the huge influx of travelers who make their way to the Ligurian coast each year.

J and I picked  two of the 5 villages to spend our day in: Monterosso and Riomaggiore.

Description of the Towns in the Cinque Terre


Riomaggiore rises away from the water at a dramatic angle (don’t let go of your wheeled suitcase as you haul it uphill or it’ll end up in the sea), so you can get away from the water and feel like you’re in another town entirely. This town seems to be most popular with German tourists.

Notwithstanding the crowding, the views from the Via dell'Amore are spectacularly pretty.

Manarola feels a bit more rustic and less polished than its northern neighbors; for this reason some find it a bit more charming and less populated with tourists. The part of the path between Manarola and Riomaggiore is the easiest. It’s paved, so you can even make the “trek” with a baby in a stroller, and it’s called the Via dell’Amore – the road of love.


Vernazza has perhaps the most charming central square, as it’s right on the water and there’s a lovely church tower on one side. The ruins of a castle are on one of the hills overlooking Vernazza. This is the town that tends to be most visited by people carrying Rick Steves’ guidebooks.


Corniglia is the only town not immediately on the water – it’s on top of its cliff, and so either direction you walk from requires a steep hike uphill. It’s certainly not dead – no town in the Cinque Terre is – but being on top of the cliff makes it a little harder to reach and, especially in the evenings when the hikers have all passed through, it quiets down quite a bit.


Monterosso al Mare, sometimes known simply as Monterosso, is the largest of the five, and the most heavily visited – especially by young people. It’s the only village with a nice long span of beach right in town (the others either require a hike or are very small and/or rocky).

I personally liked Monterosso the most. There is much more to do there than in any of the other villages.

J and I had an amazing lunch at the stunning terrace of the  Porto Roca Hotel  followed by a game of table tennis.
A fabulous day with phenomenal views.

Here is the proof:

See also:

Liguria, Part Uno

Liguria, Part Tre

London Spa Girl x

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