Top places to visit in Italy: Cinque Terre

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Cinque Terre with its five picturesque villages is without a doubt one of the top places to visit in Italy.  This part of the stunning Italian Riviera is quite compact and can be easily explored on a day trip or enjoyed during a longer private tour.

Top places to visit in Italy

Vernazza

The five villages of Cinque Terre (“five lands”) Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore cling to the raggedy Ligurian coastline overlooking the sea. The best way to move between the villages is by foot or train. There is a trail called “Sentiero Azzurro that connects the five villages and offers amazing sea views. Until the end of the 19th century these fishing communities were only accessible by sea.

Top places to visit in Italy

Corniglia

Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are tiny villages with just one main street each, small harbours, lovely old churches, a few restaurants and many steep climbs and steps. Monterosso al Mare is the biggest of the “five lands” and has hotels, beaches and promenades. For centuries people here have been building terraces on the cliffs where the still grow vegetables, olives and vines.

Top places to visit in Italy

Terraces of Cinque Terre

Apart from the vistas, traditional houses and cliff walking the villages are famous for their food and wine. Do not miss the sweet local wine Sciacchetrà that has been produced here for many centuries and tastes like honey. Another famous delicacy is anchovies of Monterosso al Mare, which are good on a pizza or in a tomato sauce. Corniglia is renowned for its fragrant honey. Don’t miss a small ice cream parlor there called Alberto Gelateria (Via Fieschi 74, Corniglia)  where they make one of the best honey ice creams in Liguria. Riomaggiore is famous for its savory rice cake (“turta de risu”) and vegetable soup with wild herbs (“menestra de cian”).

There are many beaches around, so take a dip in the turquoise waters of Cinque Terre is a “must”. Monterosso has long stretch of sandy beach. Although the pebbly beaches in Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Manarola are small they certainly make up with its dramatic rocks towering over the water.

 Photos by: Chris Ford, Boris Wong, Wiggy Too.