Sara, one of team in our Italy office, has just returned from a beautiful visit of Cinque Terre.
“The Cinque Terre in Liguria is one of the most requested destinations by our clients. That is why when I had a chance to visit them in person a couple of weeks ago I was happy to do so. I have seen many beautiful pictures and videos of the area but seeing them in person was amazing.
The Cinque Terre Park is a UNESCO heritage site and it is composed of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Because travelling between the villages can be challenging due to the narrow curvy roads, and the pedestrian only areas within the villages, the best way to visit is by train or boat rather than car. I suggest this day excursion for Italy trips for couples.
I started my day trip to the Cinque Terre from Genova, but they can be easily visited also as day trip from Northern Tuscany or Florence. The journey takes about 2 and half hours driving from Florence.
My suggestion is to add in your itinerary couple of nights in Genova or Santa Margherita Ligure from where you can also visit the other beautiful sea towns of Liguria as Portofino, Rapallo or Camogli and of course Genova itself with is historical city centre, the port and the famous aquarium.
Starting from Genova I arrived to Riomaggiore by a private car. In Riomaggiore we left the car and driver and we start to walk through the “Path of Love” and in 20 minutes reached the fishing village of Manarola (keep in mind that sometimes the path could be closed due to bad weather conditions), but if you want you can also reach it by ferry. In Manarola I had a rest having a “Gelato” ice cream. There are nice cafès facing the sea. I took some beautiful pictures at the harbor and I continued the walk on the path that starts just from harbor. It is a little steep, but its worth the trip to the top where the photo opportunities are great.
From Manarola we took the public ferry to Vernazza. Cruising from one village to another is a wonderful way to admire the coast from another point of view. You will pass and see Corniglia the third town of the Cinque Terre which is only reachable by sea. In Vernazza its great to just walk around and explore the quaint village center. The church of Santa Margherita is worth a visit. If you like eating fish like me this is the right place where to stop for lunch, you will find lots of small good and genuine restaurants near the harbor.
After lunch we took the local train and continued our visit to the last of the Villages: Monterosso al Mare, the biggest of the five villages and the only one with a sandy beach. There is nice shopping here in the typical narrow streets of the town. After the visit we took the train back to Genova. From Monterosso there are many trains to Santa Margherita, and Genova or to South to the main Tuscan cities and Florence.
My visit was done off season in December. At this time there are no crowds and getting around was very easy and did not take a lot of time. If you go in the spring or summer and fall you will find many people visiting especially during weekends so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Whenever you go there the Cinque Terre are a true treasure and definitely worth the visit.”