This year My Rental Homes has some new destinations. One of these is Liguria, a narrow land between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Alps, on the border with France.
Liguria is a fantastic region inhabited by generations of sailors. In fact, it is the land of origin of Christopher Columbus, born in the city of Genoa in 1451.
In Liguria the natural beauties add up to the cultural and historical heritage. All of this can be seen in one of the most stunning touristic destination of Italy: the Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre is the name give to a portion of the coastline to the west of the city of La Spezia. It comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The origin of some of these villages dates back to the 11th century.
The whole area is part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since most of the coastline is rocky, these villages are usually small and secluded. Their buildings have a particular architectural style and are built on terraces.
They didn’t changed over the centuries.
It isn’t very easy to reach these villages. They are connected by paths, trains and boats. It’s almost impossible to reach them by car.
I think that this isolation is one of the reason why the CInque Terre aro so appreciated by tourists from all over the world.
Let me give a brief overview of the 5 villages.
Monterosso al Mare is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre villages. And probably the most visited!
The reason is simple: the beautiful and wide sandy beach that goes into a intense blue sea is perfect for taking pictures! Moreover, the village has several facilities to appropriately welcome the tourists.
Monterosso al Mare is divided into an old part and a modern part, separated by the Aurora tower, a fortified tower built around the year 1000 to defend the city from pirates. The Tower is built on a strip of rocky land that stretches to the sea. Despite its bare appearance is really scenic.
Since it is a private home I don’t think it can be visited.
Deep cliffs, terraces with olive trees, vines and lemons, and a myriad of dry stone walls create the typical landscape of this village.
A flood hit the Cinque Terre in 2011, but Vernazza is still a charming village.
It is dominated by the remains of a medieval castle. The colored buildings are all along the central street from which numerous stairways depart to reach the doorways. The central square overlooks the small natural harbor.
The whole view is enchanting, especially if you reach Vernazza by sea.
Corniglia is totally different. It is located on a steep promontory, a hundred meters above the sea level. This position makes it almost inaccessible! You must climb a long brick staircase with 377 steps to reach the village.
Corniglia is different also for the architecture. The buildings are lower and but decorated. There isn’t a castle, only the ruins of an old tower.
Its difficult position makes Corniglia a very quiet village from which you can enjoy spectacular views on the sea.
Corniglia is also the smallest of the villages.
Manarola is partly perched on a steep promontory. The houses are clung to the rock. They are built on different levels and frame a small port on an intense blue sea.
Manarola had a castle but it didn’t survive. What’s left has been transformed into a private house. Only its circular walls reminds of the ancient building.
A particular detail of Manarola is a white pyramid that shows up between the highest buildings. Is it a Masonic message? No, it’s a trigonometric signal for sailors.
Among the villages of the Cinque Terre, Manarola is probably the least crowded of tourists.
Riomaggiore is the easternmost of the villages and is also the largest.
You can consider it the main village of the Cinque Terre. In fact, the national park has its headquarters here.
The architecture of Riomaggiore is the typical of the Cinque Terre: high buildings connected by steps and built on terraces on the hillsides, framing a small port.
In Riomaggiore begins Via Dell’Amore, a very suggestive path that reaches Manarola and gives the chance to see beautiful panorama on the coastline from a different point of view.
As already said there are few roads to get to the Cinque Terre villages.
The best way to reach them is by train. A railway line connects La Spezia and the 5 villages one to each other.
The trip from one village to another is five minutes or less.
Tourist can buy unlimited tickets that make life easier.
Another, more scenic way to reach the villages is by ferry.
Finally you can reach the villages by walking along the paths like Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path) or the already mentioned Via Dell’Amore (Road of Love). This option allows you to enjoy the enchanting nature of Liguria at its most. Just remember to pack a pair of comfortable shoes!