surrounding, Cinque Terre, La Spezia
The walk from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare (an 18 km/11 mi hike), at the steadily-decreasing-in-price-per-day-bought price of 5 Euro for one day, is quite a bargain. You get breathtaking views of the mountains, or rather cliffs, the Mediterranean, and the five cliffside and seaside towns, which all have a similiar, but each slightly varied charm, are great rest stops and impressive sights. Starting from the second half of Riomaggiore, you take the trek to Manarola, then to Corniglia, then to Vernazza, and finally to Monterosso al Mare. At the end of the trek, you are rewarded with the pleasant town's cozy little stretch of beach. There's a free public beach, and a slightly nicer private beach with umbrellas and chairs, etc. The trek is for determined, adventurous people who like to stop and explore little details and enjoy beautiful landscapes--or, I guess, seascapes, and a good challenge.
Towns of Manarola, built on a rock outcrop, and Riomaggiore are linked by a footpath cut out of the sheer rock just few meters from the sea; this romantic pathway, called Via dell'Amore (love street), is dedicated to lovers and offers you a stunning sight of the gulf.
The five hamlets of Cinque Terre are represented by 5 villages, named Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, either cling to the cliff face or are concealed in miniature inlets perfectly blending in to this unique and unspoilt landscape.
The area has been turned into a National Park and proclaimed heritage of mankind by UNESCO.
My favourite "Must See" in La Spezia area was undoubtedly the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is the "name" for 5 beautiful fishing villages perched on top of cliffs and which can be reached by boat or by train. The "first" and the "last" of the five can also be reached by car, making them touristier and less attractive in my opinion. The five villages, going from La Spezia are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Cornilia (not accessible by boat), Vernazza and Monterosso.
In La Spezia you may get the boat to visit the Cinque Terre. We got the boat at Porto Venere and it works as "hop on and off" accordingly to a timetable they provide when you buy the ticket. That way you can spend as much time as you want in any of the villages.
Definitely make time to see each of the towns that make up Cinque Terre.
Each town has it's own quaint little qualities that make each town unique. I only visited Monteserro and most of the town was closed but were getting ready for the tourist season.
See the five towns, of course!
I obtained this map from this site www.cinqueterre.com This site also has lots of good information,pictures and a webcam.
This small town is renowed for the unspoilt architecture of the medieval center, with pleasent beaches for the peolple who love to enjoy the Dolce Vita!
You can take tons of pictures like this and even better ones as rocks will surely "capture" your sight...
Hmm... not so easy to walk around in Riomaggiore, even if you are going to visit your neighbors you must walk up or down :-).
Riomaggiore - another village with fantastic location - has a little harbour with colorful boats.
For me Manarola has the most impressive location among 5 Cinque Terre villages. Am I wrong? - look at my panoramic picture (= click to enlarge :-).
Enjoy the beach and the sun in Monterosso in... September, hmm... maybe if you are lucky even in October.
Enjoy panoramic view of Monterosso al Mare (or simply Monterosso) - the most touristy of the Cinque Terre villages.
Hiking through the five towns of Cinque. Take an afternoon to relax at the beach off Corniglia. Go through the tunnel to get to the nude beach.