The Cinque Terre, five villages situated on the Ligurian Sea, are a favorite destination for millions of tourists every year who come here in this part of Liguria located between the Gulf of La Spezia and the Tigullio. These jewels of inestimable touristic, landscape and cultural value, given from the meeting between nature and human activity, can be reached easily by train, starting from La Spezia, in a few minutes, while due to their location overlooking the sea they are hardly reachable by car, especially as regards the intermediate villages.
Starting from the east are, in order, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, the latter village being the largest in size of the five.
Riomaggiore, the easternmost village of the five, is mainly visited as gateway to the Via dell’Amore, a very romantic path overlooking the sea that joins to Manarola, the second village from the east. The village has a spectacular view of the sea, especially looking at it from the east, and is also famous for the production of typical local wine, Sciacchetrà.
Manarola, as mentioned, is connected to Riomaggiore, through the Via dell’Amore. It is one of the smallest villages, but still attracts thousands of visitors every year thanks to its Belvedere, and a special feature: in Manarola is present the biggest illuminated nativity scene in the world, with the silhouettes of the characters made of wire and lighten up during the evening and night throughout the Christmas period. Similar is also the representation of the Cross, which is done at Easter, and San Lorenzo, which is set for August 10, the day of commemoration of the patron of Manarola.
At the center of the Cinque Terre is located Corniglia, rising higher above sea level than other lands. It is the most difficult village to be reached from the train station, but still accessible going up (on foot or by bus) the Via della Stazione, or through a long path of steps, the Lardarina. The elevated position does not prevent Corniglia to be popular with tourists from around the world, because of its stunning Marina, made of rocks, that is extended on its western side.
Considered by many the real gem of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza hits the heart of the visitor. First arrival in this land through its railway station, almost all in the gallery, but also the center of the town can not remain indifferent for tourists who come in great crowds every year. The view of the village, with the Doria Tower and the Church of Santa Margherita, is a major attraction in Liguria, and gives this village looks even among the most romantic in Europe.
Monterosso al Mare is instead the economic and cultural center of the district. Less characteristics when compared to the other villages, it is better framed as a small city rather than a fishing village as are the other four. To note the beautiful waterfront, with the Aurora Tower dividing it in half, and the Cappuccini Monastery, which is located just above the tower itself. Monterosso can be a great starting point for visiting the Cinque Terre, by virtue of its excellent connections to the other villages and the high level of accommodations of the town. The beach can be ensured for all ages thanks to its easy access to the sea, with the chance to swim in the crystal-clear sea also for children because of its shallow waters. Monterosso was the native village of the poet Eugenio Montale, who in his compositions often makes clear references to the native country, giving him great inspiration.
The Cinque Terre are therefore a paradise to discover, as evidenced by the appointment of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO dated 1997.