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The Cinque Terre ("Five Lands") is a quintet of hillside villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, part of the Cinque Terre National Park and with the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of Italy’s most beautiful and colorful collection of picture perfect villages embedded in the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea… stunning is an understatement. Along with all of these adjectives comes all of those tourists. The merchants try their best to provide a value for the tourist dollars, but the volume of traffic stretches that premise, and reality is not in the tourists favor.
The scenery is the main attraction, and the best way to appreciate the beauty of the coastline is to take a day trip via ferry between each village. The views from the ferry are breathtaking, and the crowds are restricted to the capacity of the vessel. If you decide to visit a specific village, simply get off and walk around... then catch the next ferry to complete or continue your journey… watch the schedules carefully.
There are two other options: the train which is convenient and speedy, or for the avid hiker, there is a well maintained trail connecting all five villages - imagine the scenery from that perspective!
The following is one of the many webpages that you can peruse for more details: http://www.cinqueterrevillages.com/
Riomaggiore al Mar
This quaint fishing village was literally craved into the face of the cliffs, and the houses made of stones meander up the steep hillside through a series of streets, until they wind their way up the mountain amongst terraced vineyards and olive tree orchards, all of which date back to the 14th century.
This town is the “usual” starting point for the exploration of the Cinque Terre and most travelers arrive by train or ferry. Rough seas can and do shut down the ferry system (like on this visit) so plan accordingly. The train station is centrally located, and the promenade walk along the coastline to the actual city center affords great photo opportunities.
Promenade from the train station
Stormy seas and the breakwater at the mouth of the port
No fishing or ferry service today
Riomaggiore viewed from the castle tower
Note the size of the wave and the people on the ramp
Riomaggiore is an active fishing village
Some of the locals enjoying the afternoon
There is a tunnel that is the route to the train station and we were treated to this impromptu concert… enjoy! https://youtu.be/jsykMtZjxCU
It is hard for us to image how different our previous visits were compared to this one and the blustery sea conditions. Perhaps it was that warm mid-September day so many years ago with beautiful, sunny skies, crystalline water, or swimming in the Ligurian sea, then reclining on the sun- heated flat stone platforms that surround a side of the port and maybe… just maybe finding a great pizza and a cold beer to top it off…
This side trip out of our home base town of Sestri Levante was by way of the train system as the ferries were shut down by Mother Nature. Once again, being independent travelers with a flexible schedule was our passport to the freedom of choice.
Please follow us in the next article, as our road trip continues to Lake Lugano, situated between Italy and Switzerland and shares each of their unique cultures.
After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.
© 2016 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar
© 2016 Picture Credits Bob & Janice Kollar