Love Touring Italy - The Cinque Terre Villages Of Liguria by
dei Fiori Featured Hotels / Hotels
in the Cinque Terre Area
you are planning a European vacation, you should really consider the Liguria
region of northern Italy, which is commonly known as the Italian Riviera.
This thin little strip of land lies on the Ligurian Sea, close to Monaco
and the French Riviera. While Liguria is by no means undiscovered, its
crowds are much smaller than those next door. This beautiful area includes
many little towns or villages, and one international port city almost smack
dab in the center of the coast. This article explores Cinque Terre, five
little seaside villages that just might steal your heart. Be sure to read
the other articles in this series: eastern Liguria, western Liguria, and
Genoa, the capital and largest city of Liguria.
|As its name indicates, Cinque
Terre is a group of five coastal villages located in eastern Liguria.
Collectively they form a UNESCO World Heritage site. Going from west to
east their names are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola,
and Riomaggiore. If you are going to hike across all five villages you
probably should work your way in the opposite order because the easiest
paths are in the west. You can always take the train from one village to
another. Don't be a hero and spoil your trip.
There are several trails,
some of which evolved from mule paths. The most popular one is Sentiero
Azzuro (Blue Trail) that runs along the water. It's about 8 miles (13 kilometers)
long and is said to take about five hours to complete. Don't worry if it
takes you longer. I said it before, and I'll say it again; don't be a hero
and spoil your trip.
Monterosso al Mare,
population about 1500, is the largest and busiest of these five villages.
Stone steps take you from the village center to the port and seaside promenade.
Monterosso al Mare is surrounded by hills bedecked in vineyards and olive
groves. Thursday is market day and the market brims with local arts and
crafts as well as food and wine.
The Aurora bell tower separates
the ancient and modern parts of the village. It is the only remaining tower
of the thirteen that surrounded the village in the Sixteenth Century.
sure to see the Twelfth Century Chiesa di San Francesco (Church
of St. Francis). This church was built in the Ligurian Gothic style and
like so many others includes black and white marble. This church proudly
displays a painting of the Crucifixion which was attributed to the English
painter Van Dyck who lived for six years in Ligura. The village is home
to festivals celebrating Lemons (Saturday just before Ascension Sunday),
Flowers (second Sunday after Pentecost), and even Salted Anchovies and
Olive Oil (second weekend of September).
the only natural port among these five villages and became wealthier than
its neighbors. Consequently its architecture is more elaborate. Vernazza
was a Roman installation. It was quite a strategic location during the
age of the Maritime Republics in Genoa.
It was also famous for its carpenters. Make sure to see the Castle of the
Doria, the watchtowers, and the Romanesque sanctuary of Nostra Signora
di Reggio (Our Lady of Reggio).
Corniglia, a farming
village, is the most remote of the Cinque Terre villages and the only one
not directly on the sea. There are plans to build an elevator from the
railway; until this happens to get there you must conquer 337 steps in
33 flights of stairs. Once you're there make sure to see the Fourteenth
Century Church of San Pietro (St. Peter) built in the Gothic-Ligurian style.
Corniglia was mentioned in Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. While a local
castle was mentioned way back in the late Thirteenth Century no one has
found any such ruins. You're welcome to look.
|Manarola is the center
of the local wine and olive oil industry. What a color feast: the houses
are pastel, the water is turquoise, and the rock on which the town sits
is black. Make sure to see theVia dell'Amore (Love Road) that joins Manarola
with Riomaggiore, said to provide some of the most thrilling scenery in
the world. This mile (one and a half kilometer) long path was cut from
rock overlooking the sea. That's what they call a labor of love.
Riomaggiore is the
most accessible and therefore the least charming of the five villages.
According to tradition this village dates back to the Eighth Century, when
it was founded by group of Greek refugees who escaped the religious persecution
of the Byzantine Emperor. The Fourteenth Century parish church of San Giovanni
Battista (Saint John the Baptist) overlooks the village. Be sure to see
the ruins of a Fifteenth-Sixteenth Century castle.
What about food?
is most famous for its pesto, claimed to be the best in the world. It's
simple to make, take a mortar and pestle and combine basil, Ligurian basil,
olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Don't break a true Ligurian
heart; don't make it in a blender. Serve with fresh pasta. And don't forget
the Ligurian wine.
Let's suggest a sample menu,
one of many. Start with Ciuppin (Fish Soup). Then try Coniglio Arrosto
alla Ligure (Roast Rabbit) For dessert indulge yourself with Baci di Dami,
literally Ladies' Kisses (Almond and Dark Chocolate Cookies.) Be sure that
you increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your meal.
We'll conclude with a quick
look at Liguria wine. Liguria is quite small and doesn't have much room
for wine grapes. It ranks 19th among the 20 Italian regions in acreage
devoted to wine grapes and total annual wine production. About 34% of its
wine is red or rose, leaving 66% white. The region produces eight DOC wines.
DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated
as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. About
14% of Ligurian wine carries the DOC designation.
Cinque Terre/Cinque Terre
Sciacchetra (DOC) is the only DOC wine in the Cinque Terre area. It is
a white, dry or sweet wine made from a variety of local grapes. The wines
themselves are not nearly as spectacular as the vineyards carved out of
rock thousands of years ago. You have to go to Liguria or perhaps neighboring
regions of Italy to taste any of them. To tell the truth, there are many
better reasons for visiting this lovely area.
/ Riviera dei Fiori Featured
Hotels / Hotels
in the Cinque Terre Area
About the Author - Over the
years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and
the Internet but simply prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with
the right foods. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he
wants, in moderation. He teaches a variety of computer classes at an Ontario
French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition
website http://www.wineinyourdiet.com links to his other sites.