CINQUE DAYS IN CINQUE TERRE
It's impossible not to fall in love with each of these beautiful towns. They're all guaranteed to be unbelievably picturesque so you really can't go wrong, wherever you choose to visit. To our surprise, it's quite a small coastline so you’ll cover a lot in just a few days. Although fair warning, to get the panoramic views you’ll be doing some walking! As for accommodation, we stayed in Riomaggiore, however if you're looking for alternative options outside of the national park - we've heard that staying in the nearby town of Levanto is amazing too (and is right nearby the train line!). Our five days here were spent with two of our oldest friends and brings very fond memories to mind. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! X Lil & Breez
After a few hours on the train from Venice to La Spezia, we arrived in Riomaggiore ready for our next adventure. As we made our way up to our hotel during the golden hour, passing vibrant villas and bustling restaurants, we knew that we were in for an amazing five days. We checked in at our hotel and wandered the town of Riomaggiore as nightfall descended upon us. Of the many local restaurants we passed, we decided on a hearty bowl of minestrone soup and (of course) a scoop of gelato, or two, for dessert. With an adventure filled day ahead, we jotted down a loose plan for the next few days and had an early night.
Declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1997, the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre is Italy's smallest national park . Due to this status, travel between the five towns (whether it be via train or walking trails) requires a fee. To avoid daily lines and stubborn ticket machines, we were sure to purchase our 5 day all access pass straight away. A three day transport pass, for example, is approximately €40.
The next morning we rose with the sun, snacked on croissants & coffee and hopped on the train to Corniglia.The town kindly welcomed us with hundreds of mammoth steps (less than ideal in 30 degree heat!). But to no surprise, the views were worth it! Upon reaching the town (finally!), we stopped to indulge in some fresh fruit and take in the ocean scenery and breeze. Before long, we were keen to explore and decided to embark upon the hiking trail to Vernazza. With spectacular views the entire way, the walk was over too soon, but by the time we saw the town peeping through the trees, we quickly made our way down to the Vernazza coastline and joined many others cooling off in the water. The rocks edge was certainly a hot spot and courtesy of the nearby cliff jumpers, we were provided with some quality entertainment as we lazed on the rocks, drying off in the sunshine. After our very rewarding start to the day, we grabbed our daily scoop of gelato and perused the boutique stores, taking in the gorgeous town of Vernazza.
Eager to see more, we hopped on the train and made our way to Monterosso al Mare. The train lines all stop within walking distance of the towns (except without as much ease for Corniglia!) and our afternoon trip to Monterosso was quickly rewarded when it's magnificent stretch of coastline came into view. After meandering the main esplanade and grabbing a bite to eat, we decided that a few more relaxing hours by the water was going to be in store for us the next day. With all of the beautiful places we'd seen imprinted on our minds, we made our way back to Riomaggiore in time for a peaceful sunset and quiet dinner.
As anticipated, we awoke with tired limbs and decided to spend the first few hours (at least!) of our day on the beach. After some haggling with the respective owners of each section of sun beds, we settled for the gold trimmed umbrellas and lounged under the sun in total bliss, relaxing atop blue striped sun beds. After many swims and much deliberation, we decided the best way to cool down and rehydrate was, naturally, to share a bucket of strawberry daiquiri for €10.
Eager to do some more exploring, we walked the long curve of coastline and decided to take in the view atop Monterosso's famous rock formation. The climb was absolutely worth the breathtaking view and made for the perfect Kodak moment! Without a doubt, Monterosso al Mare is one of our favourite stops along the Cinque Terre coastline. Boasting crystal clear water and sandy stretches of beach that Europe doesn't always guarantee, this town truly is like no other.
After a perfect day in Monterosso and the realisation that we'd hardly scratched the surface of our resident town, we decided to spend our afternoon by the sea in Riomaggiore. We grabbed some takeaway pizza and created a little set up on the rocks by the traditional fishing boats, unwinding after a long day in the sun. Yet another heavenly day!
Sufficiently recharged, we were ready to embark on another hike and decided to conquer the scenic trail linking Vernazzo and Monterosso. As one of the more popular walking tracks, we passed local artists, jewellers, freshly squeezed juices and fruit stalls. This trail is definitely our personal favourite, with unbelievable views around every corner of the rugged arc of coastline. Toward the end of the hike, we couldn't help but notice a particularly lush resort perched on the cliffside, Hotel Porto Roca. This hotel exudes the height of luxury one would expect on the Italian Riviera. Needless to say, it has certainly been added to the bucket list.
As we approached Monterosso, we were happy to have stumbled upon it’s Old Town, tucked just around the corner of the coastline - be sure not to miss it, which is especially easy to do if travelling by train! Feeling particularly satisfied after conquering the walk, we explored it’s intertwining streets, successfully located a bakery (that sold bagels, yesss!) and enjoyed a delicious lunch & a well-deserved dip in the sea. After a refreshing swim and some sun, we hopped back on the train and headed to Manarola.
Manarola, unsurprisingly, did not disappoint. This coastal town's vivid, tumbling villas are framed by local vineyards tucked into the surrounding mountains. We felt as though we'd stepped into a postcard! We'd recommend hiking a little further beyond the town (in the direction of Corniglia) to view it from one of our favourite vantage points.
Keen to make the most of our last day, we hired bikes from the nearby village of Levanto and set off on our adventure through the old railway tunnels. We were feeling the magic of this coastline as we caught glimpses of the water and dappled sunlight shining through the tunnels. With such beautiful views, it wasn’t long before we found the perfect location to stop for a picnic on the beach. For something a little more substantial, we'd have to recommend Ristorante Moresco, an authentic Italian restaurant in Levanto with the most incredible food (special mention to the sea bass ravioli in burnt butter and sage!). After yet another delightful lunch, we returned the bikes and headed back home to Riomaggiore.
After one last swim and a quick visit to our hotel, we retired to Riomaggiore's seaside for sunset to indulge in a few celebratory cocktails and in an ode to Italy, we ordered four Aperol Spritz's. As we watched the seaside turn golden during dusk, we said our goodbyes to the Italian Riviera - sure that we'd be back one day soon!