Cinque Terre – 5 gems on the Italian Riviera

Cinque Terre – ” five lands ” are 5 small towns located along the coast of the Italian Riviera. They are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These five villages , together with Portovenere, the nearby islands and the vast hillside areas in the surrounding proximity are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

There is a train line connecting all five villages and each village is 10 – 15 minutes away from each other. In the summer months, there are frequent boat services going between these islands except for Corniglia as it is located high up on the hill and can be reached only by train or cars.

It may not be the best idea to try to drive to each of these five places as the roads can be narrow and steep and it is not easy to find parking space especially during summer months.

Although all of the five villages have colorful houses and wonderful restaurants, each one of them has its own characteristic.

Monterosso al Mare

This is the first train stop from Milan and Genoa and it is the biggest of the five villages. There is a long stretch of sandy beach and one can easily rent a sun chair and umbrella and spend a day on the beach.


long stretch of beach in Monterosso

long stretch of beach in Monterosso

Looking at the beach from another angle

Looking at the beach from another angle

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various colors of the beach umbrellas adorn the beach of Monterosso

various colors of the beach umbrellas adorn the beach of Monterosso

At one end of the beach there is the huge statue “Il Gigante” facing outward to the sea. This 14 metre Neptune statute was originally built in 1910 for the decoration of Villa Pastine. Throughout the years, the statute has lost its arms, the trident and the giant seashell but its majestic presence still make an impression to the tourists that come here.






Vernazza seems to be the most popular town for tourists amongst all the five towns. When the ferry approaches this lovely town, a small marina will first come to view, then its the Piazza  and the colourful houses.



The small beautiful marina of Vernazza when approaches by sea.



View of Vernazza when coming from Corniglia



another view of Vernazza when coming from Monterosso


Corniglia is the third town in the train line of the cinque terre and is the only town that cannot be reached by sea. It is located on a small cape, 100 meters above the sea.





another view of colorful town of Corniglia

another view of colorful town of Corniglia

The tiny village of Corniglia is connected to its train station by a footpath known as Lardarina (over 300 stairs). If you do not fancy climbing up the stairs, there is also a bus service going back and forth from the station to the town. It costs 2 euro one way or if you have the hiking day pass, the trip is included. ( I will tell you more about the hiking pass)



If you approach Manarola by sea , you will see people suntanning on the big rocks and swimming by the pier.




This is the most southern town of all five towns before La Spezia. This 13th century town climbs up along the ridges overlooking the sea.





Aside from their beauty and the uniqueness in the landscapes, Cinque terre is also well known for the hiking or trail walks . There are several trails that one can walk from one town to another and the scenery on route is most charming. I will post an easy but most scenic route from Corniglia to Vernazza in my next post.

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