Walking The Cinque Terre: Experience Dramatic Beauty and Great Cuisine

The Cinque Terre, or “The Five Lands,” refers to five Italian villages along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. While this area is becoming a coveted vacation destination, it shares very few similarities with Italy’s most visited cities down the coast, like Rome and Naples. Those who journey to the Cinque Terre will find small communities clinging to the Italian Riviera’s rocky cliffs that have escaped the grasps of commercial development. The villages are connected by trains and paths through the rugged terrain, as there are very few vehicle roadways in the area.

If you decide to walk the Cinque Terre, you will likely choose the Sentiero Azzurro (blue path), the most widely-known and accessed path between the villages. It runs within the Cinque Terre National Park and is approximately eight miles long, taking about five hours to walk. On your trek, make sure to explore the five villages:

Riomaggiore [Italy]

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Riomaggiore | Acclimate yourself to the land and the fare on your first Cinque Terre stop in Riomaggiore. The 13th-century village is built on a steep landscape, lush with olive groves and vineyards – much like the other villages along the Sentiero Azzurro. On the main street of Via Colombo, choose from several restaurants to try some of the region’s specialties such as fresh pesto and Cinque Terre wine.

Manarola [Italy]

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Manarola | The first section of the path from Riomaggiore to Manorola is known as Via dell'Amore, or the Way of Love. Paved and wheelchair accessible, this is the easiest part of the Sentiero Azzurro. After gazing at the panoramic views of the sea on your one-mile walk to Manarola, turn your eyes to the terracotta-colored tower homes and the oldest church in the Cinque Terre, San Lorenzo (est. 1338).

Corniglia [Italy]

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Corniglia | More than 300 feet above the path sits Corniglia – the third of the five lands. To get to this headland village, you will have to climb nearly 400 stairs to the top. The lower-set homes and other structures are noticeably different than the other neighboring villages. While Corniglia doesn’t directly face the water, it does offer some of the prettiest views of the Ligurian Sea.

Vernazza [Italy]

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Vernazza | The fourth village on your Cinque Terre walk dates back nearly 10 centuries. Here, you can see Doria Castle rising from the fishing village that was once regularly raided by pirates. In the main square stands the picturesque church, Santa Margherita d'Antiochia of Vernazza. If you are game for a challenging hike, make your way up the hill above Vernazza to the Sanctuary of Madonna di Reggio. You won’t be sorry when you see the expansive vineyard and coastal views.

Monterosso Al Mare [Italy]

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Monterosso al Mare | Rounding out the Cinque Terre is the village of Monterosso al Mare. The popular town speckled with lemon trees is known for its sprawling sand beaches – the largest beaches of the five lands. The castle ruins in Monterosso al Mare offer interesting photo opportunities, as well as the Montorosso Giant. The almost 50-foot carved figure stands slightly hunched, perpetually supporting the land from which he was created.


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Lauren Elizondo

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