cinque terre, Liguria
The town of Manarola is small and peaceful.
If coming from Riomaggiore or the train station, you'll arrive through a pedestrian tunnel; this tunnel was used by the town residents to seek shelter during air raids of WWII.
From the Tunnel you enter town close to the elevated Piazza, usually kids playing here and our Daughter was fascinated by the inlay fish in the Piazza.
Heading up the hill you have the church, and about 1 KM up is a parking area.
Continue towards the water with shops, gelato and cafes and a few decent restaurants; this direction leads you to the trail and on to Corniglia.
With a little of everything, this is our favorite stop on the Cinque Terre.
Castle ruins overlooking the most picturesque harbour and pastel buildings. The town has got plenty of shops & restaurants, and a small park for the kids to run around just north of the train station.
the photo I took from the harbour on my Liguria home page can say the rest.
High above the coast, Corniglia is the only one of the Cinque Terre not on the water. Each town has a unique atmosphere and Corniglia's is mellow and a little cooler than the others.
You have a hike of a few hunderd stairs to make it to the town center from the train station/ foot path, or you can take the bus (free with the 5-terre card). Because it is more remote, less tourists make the trip up to the town center.
The town has a couple of beaches, one g rated on below the train station, and a clothing optional beach going towards Vernazza. So then, on towards Vernazza..
There are a number of trails, at different difficuly levels, that connect the cinque Terre towns. Walking at least a few of these is a must. The views along these trails are quite amazing with various plants, citrus trees, vinyards, olive orchards, and more along the way.
There are areas along the way with benches and sometimes tables to take a break. There's even a cafe along the main trail between Manorola and Coniglia. When you buy your ticket to enter the trails, you'll get a map of the trail network to help you out.
More info on the transportation tip]
Vernazza is the most beautiful village of the so called " Cinque terre "
Lots of colorfull houses, all built into a small and narrow bay.
Fisherboats, a narrow path leading through the terraces on the hills taking you to the next village Monterosso...
I drove by car to Portovenere and from there I made a daycruise to the Cinque Terre.
The ship stayed in Vernazza for 60 minutes - time enough for for first overview, but not enough to explore everything...
Taking the train is certainly the best, as you may buy a dayticket for all of the villages of 5terre, including the train to and between all villages, the small buses that run through some of them and the entrance-fee to the National Park and "Via dell Amore" - the romantic path along the coastline up and down the hills...
You may click here to see on the map, where to find Vernazza :
www.multimap.com - Vernazza
For more infos and pics of Vernazza - just click on my link below !
From La Spezia, the first train stop of the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. At the La Spezia train station, there is a tourist office with all the information you need for your Cinque Terre hike. The Cinque Terre is now part of the Italian national park system, so you have to pay to hike it. At the tourist office you can buy one ticket that covers your rail fare (unlimited between La Spezia and Genova) and your hiking pass. The ticket costs 5.20 Euro for one day. You can also buy a pass that covers you for 3 or 7 days. Make sure you validate your ticket at one of the little yellow machines at the train stations. They don't check for validation on the train (as far as I could tell), but they do check it at the hiking checkpoints at the outskirts of each village. Don't lose your ticket!
At the La Spezia train station, there is also a snack bar where you can pick up snacks and sports drinks or water for your hike. Keep yourself hydrated!
At the end of Lover's Lane, you're rewarded with the village of Manarola. Due to the rough waves, the fishing boats were all pulled up onto the town streets. There were too many shops, gelaterias and restaurants to choose from. We were in tourist overload!
But I thought the highlight of Manarola was the cemetery. It was different from anything else I've seen. There was a structure that formed a courtyard. Along the walls of the structure, there were vaults where the deceased are laid to rest. But the most interesting thing was that the people of Manarola have found a way to put a photograph of their loved ones on the face of the vault. So you could see the pictures of the people who had a hand in Manarola's history. Some photos were quite old - turn of the century or older. It was very interesting!
By the time we got to Corniglia, it was well into the afternoon and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. We were starving! Corniglia is perched at the top of a hill and by the time we got there, we were very ready to eat. Luckily, there were plenty of cafes, delicatessens and snack bars to choose from. If anything, we had too many choices and we took a little too long to decide where to go. In the end, we found a little hole in the wall pizzaria, where we got a few slices of focaccia, which really hit the spot! We chose a little park bench with a view of the trail behind us and enjoyed!
Manarola is another one of the 5 villages of Cinque terre and a lot more off the beaten path than Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
Ships have a hard time to land in the small port and even the smallest spot seems to be used in order to build a house and most of the buildings became rather high that way.
My ship did not land in Manarola, although it was scheduled that it would.
But obviously whenever a big group of people reserve the boat, even the scheduled boat goes for the wishes of the group only.
You may take the path along the coast and through the mountain-terraces - it is called Via dell'amore
Here you may see Manarola on a map :
www.multimap.com - Manarola
To me this is an absolute must, even if it means standing in line hoping to make it to the next boat departing! Going on such a boat tour makes you experience the five villages of the Cinque Terre in a totally different way: instead of lookiing out on the sea you see the villages tucked in their little valleys or on top of the rocks, you see the small harbors, the rough landscape, the vinyards and approaching each harbor, the colors of the villages become brighter and brighter!
When doing such a little sightseeing cruise be sure to check direction and the time of day, so that you will not be blinded by the sun!
When we visited in mid-September went from Monterosso to Riomaggiore on an afternoon (3 p.m.) boat - this was perfect for us!
Monterosso al Mare is the westernmost town of the Cinque Terre. It is the largest, too, and a little different from the other four. It is clearly divided into a newer part and an older part. My brother made it his base and absolutely loved it, we only visited shortly and did not like it at all! I guess - as everything - it is a matter of personal taste.
I do recommend Monterosso as the starting point for a boat ride along the coast of Cinque Terre, though, to me an absolute must!
For more information, do have a look at my little Monterosso al Mare page
Vernazza was and is my all time favourite village of the Cinque Terre! We stayed here for 4 days and discovered the area from here! Vernazza has a lovely little harbor, a castello and best of all a piazza next to the harbor to enjoy the views, the sunsets and delicious food!
For more information and pictures, please have a look at my Vernazza page!
Riomaggiore is the easternmost village of the Cinque Terre. We went there twice and really enjoyed it! The village itself is small and steep and very colorful! We had two reasons to visit there: one was the restaurant recommendation of "La Lanterna" and the other one was the fact that we wanted to do the Via dell'Amore, which starts here and leads all the way to Manarola. We did enjoy both highlights and I hope to tell you more on my soon to be created Riomaggiore page!
Via dell'Amore is the name of the first part of the hiking trails connecting all five villages of Cinque Terre. The Via itself is not really a trail, it is a paved footpath leading from Riomaggiore to Manarola. It is easy walking - no climbing at all! For all of those who do not want to do strenuous hiking (or maybe can't do it for health reasons), this is the thing to do!
The Via dell'Amore is part of the Cinque Terre National Park, so you will have to pay an entrance fee, which in 2006 was 3 € for a day pass.
Don't miss the opportunity to walk these paths of the Cinque Terre; you are right at the edge of the cliffs. There are two levels of difficulty. The higher the pathway, the more difficult the walk and the longer it takes. So, judge what your capabilities are and choose wisely.
The scenery is captivating. Allan and I were impressed with the color of the sea...a strange combination of blue and green. In addition, we were also impressed with the picturesque villages; each with its own personality.