Global Destinations:
Choose your European Destination:
Other Options:


Village of Vernazza, from the East, Cinque Terre, Unesco World Heritage Site, Liguria, Italy
Buy This
Italy Travel Guide
Search this site

View Google Map of Italy

View map of Europe
View map of Europe

View map of Europe
View map of Italy

Italy Tours:
TravelToe Audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Vatican City
Audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Vatican City
TravelToe Capri Day Tour with Lunch from Naples
Capri Day Tour with Lunch from Naples
TravelToe Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Tour from Naples
Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Tour from Naples


Liguria Travel Guide:

Genoa Featured Hotels
Hotels in the Cinque Terre Area
Riviera dei Fiori Featured Hotels

I Love Touring Italy - Genoa
I Love Touring Italy - The Cinque Terre Villages Of Liguria
The Beautiful Italian Riviera
Travel to Liguria

Italy Travel Guide


I Love Touring Italy - The Cinque Terre Villages Of Liguria   by Levi Reiss

  Riviera dei Fiori Featured Hotels  /  Hotels in the Cinque Terre Area

If 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.
Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Unesco World Heritage Site, Italian Riviera, Liguria, Italy
Buy This
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.

Be 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).

Vernazza provides 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? Liguria 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.

Boats on Downtown Shore, Cinque Terre, Italy
Buy This

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.

top  /  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 links to his other sites.


Apologies, due to the self-catering search supplier shutting down, we currently have no properties in this area.

Should you have quality self-catering accommodation in this area, please sign up for a listing.