Cinque Terre: a hidden paradise
January 1, 1970
by Yandara Akamine
Cinque Terre is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! And the best part: not many people know about it, so it is a great place to go and rest. Trust me, if you are traveling through Italy, this is a place you have to go!
Cinque Terre is the name given to a piece of land in Italy at the Ligure Riviera, it is mainly characterized by the mountainous ground closed to the sea. It is composed of the communes Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare and the districts of Corniglia and Manarola. Due to the great slope, the area has this typical terraces used for agricultural techniques and, as a way to protect them in 1999 was built the National Park of Cinque Terre. The easiest way to get to Cinque Terre is through a train, you can start your journey from Gênova or La Spezia, they each have a station that leads you to all the five sites.
I was staying in an amazing hotel in La Spezia, which was just supposed to be the base of operations for Cinque Terre, but I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and peaceful it was (definitely worth visiting!). Back to business… At the Central Station of La Spezia I bought a ”Full Day Pass to Cinque Terre”, it enables you to:
- 2° class access to regional and fast regional trains;
- Access to the Park area;
- Guided visits according to program;
- Use of bus service within the Park;
- Free use of paid toilets;
- Entrance at a reduced price to the Museums of La Spezia;
- Participation in C.E.A. workshops;
- Internet access through the Park’s Wi-Fi Hot Spots.
Since I was staying in La Spezia, my first stop was Riomaggiore!
This commune is the most southern one from the Terres, the village was built in the Major River Valley and is divided in two: the sea area, where you can see the boats and fishing nets and the upper agricultural area. After leaving the station you find a sign, showing you the way to the city center, for that you have to into a long cold and beautiful tunnel with incredible mosaics.
Connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola (the next Terre) is the Via dell’Amore (Lover’s path), a very famous coastal hiking path, unfortunately, it is closed due to a rock slide and I couldn’t see it.
The next Terre was Manarola, an older city than Riomaggiore, yet not as beautiful (in my opinion, of course). If you are lucky to get there through the Via dell’Amore you will end up at the railway station, however, if you are not lucky, you just have to get the train at Riomaggiore. Similar to the prior Terre, you will go into a pedestrian tunnel that will take you to Manarola’s main street.
Manarola is registered as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy. All the way up the main street is the Piazza Papa Innocenzo IV (square of the church), the view from up there is sensational! Unfortunately, I didn’t stay there for long I did get to see all the amazing this district has to offer: the fishing boats, swimming, snorkeling.
Corniglia is the smallest Terre and is located above sea level, so after you leave the station you’ll see a bus sign. Just stay put and wait for the bus (if you want you can walk, but it is quite the walk..). There is only one bus that takes people to the city and back to the station, so it might be full, but don’t worry, because every 15 minutes it will be back there. Once you get into the bus you just have to present your ”Cinque Terre Pass and wait for the, yet another, incredible view.
Once you get there you will already be blown away with the view. As you walk around the streets you will find a square filled with restaurants and a fountain with drinkable water (be sure to fill your bottles). Going up the stairs you find a space where kids play soccer (the ground is even painted for it) and from there you are struck with another mesmerizing sight of the ocean and Manarola. Oh, I can’t forget to mention, Corniglia has three beaches, too bad I only found out about it when I was already back home.
And now we get to my favorite: Vernazza! It was hard to believe that a few years back the town was covered in mud and rocks due to a flood (October 2011). Alongside Manarola, Vernazza is also registered as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy, the only disadvantage was the tourists, the place was filled with them.
After leaving the station you walk through the main street packed with stores and restaurants, and then you get to the main square and just by it, you see a small beach. Of course, you need to go and at least get your feet wet on that cold, icy and transparent water, just sit there and observe the view… that is all I can say because it is just the most stunning place I have ever seen.
Besides the beach there is a street with more restaurants and stores, keep following it until you get to the harbor for (yes, I am serious) another incredible view. From this point, you can see the ocean and the boats disappearing in the horizon. This is another place you just have to sit and watch. I set in one of the stones and just stared at the blue, blue water, blue sky…
Amazing, mesmerizing, jaw-dropping, gorgeous, ravishing, stunning…
(and I ran out of synonyms for beautiful)