One of the things that made me love Italy is the landscape, it seem no matter where you go you always get picturesque scenery. On my last trip I got to visit another one of those beauties in the region or Liguria (bordering Tuscany) Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre (five lands) is the coastal area that includes the towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. They are all located within the Cinque Terre National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have been to the Amalfi Coast you might find that the pictures look similar but the two places have their differences.
The best ways to visit Cinque Terre are by boat, train or hike. I am told that the hike on the Sentiero Azzurro is really one of the best way to enjoy the region but as I was there in July with temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius I didn’t even consider the hike. The train is another option and you can actually get on it in La Spezia that will save you finding parking when you get to one of the villages. The train has stops in the 5 cities and the schedule is flexible. I really wanted to see the view from the sea so I opted to visit the cities by boat.
You can purchase a ticket that will be good for 4 out of the 5 villages, but the views are breathtaking. The schedule is a little trickier by boat as they are not as frequent as the train. Little trick if you want to take good pictures, make sure you sit on the correct side of the boat depending if you will be going North or South.
I was staying in Florence and had rented a car so I did a day trip to Cinque Terre. You will want to leave early as it is about a two hour drive by the highway. Parking might be tricky as well, I first stopped in Riomaggiore but parking was at capacity so I had to drive to the next town Manarola to find parking.
Every village is different from the next but the common part of the landscape is the way they plant their vines. The vines are all planted on the cliffs over the villages or water and looking at how steep it is you have to somehow wonder how they collect their grapes during the vendanges.
It was definitely worth the trip and I am happy I got to see this beautiful and colorful region.
BY SEBASTIEN ROBILLARD