Cinque Terre: Five Lands. An iconic must-see sight of Italy. What a spectacular place to explore. The five hillside towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are stringed together along the Italian Riviera and only accessible by train, boat or path.
We left our small town Framura early in the morning to arrive by train in Monterosso al Mare; the most Northern of the five towns. Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five lands and certainly the most populated by tourists. It’s also a common starting point for hiking the Cinque Terre.
We began our hike at 8:30am and headed south along the coastal track. It was a little concerning that after 5-10 minutes of climbing stairs I was already feeling tired, puffed out and sweaty. And this was just the beginning! But before too long we began to get into a rhythm and embraced the sweaty feeling!
Up and up we climbed until we finally reached the flat, narrow track which winded along the coastline. Crystal blue waters as far as the eye could see. Minimal boats were spotted down below and very few tourists were met along the track at that time in the morning. A huge contrast to the busy resort of the Amalfi coastline. This was my kind of scene.
After walking for an hour we were greeted with our first view of the Cinque Terre town of Vernazza. We were so excited and immediately pulled out the cameras. But as we descended down the mountain the views just kept getting better. There’s nothing more exciting then viewing a site that you’ve forever seen in pictures and always dreamed of visiting. It was just stunning!
Cute little colourful houses collected on the cliff side, overlooking the oceans beauty. Yellow, pink, orange, red, blue. Combine that with the lush green of the town’s surroundings and bordered by the perfect blues from the sea and you have one wonderful rainbow of colours.
We took a short break in town to visit the fruit market for a quick snack. As we sat on a bench eating our juicy oranges we enjoyed watching the locals pass by. Little Italian ladies emerged from the stairs above to collect their fresh produce. Everyone knew everyone! They would call and wave from across the streets, greet each other with the traditional 2 cheek kiss and stereotypically wave their arms about as they communicated. I love Italians!
Eventually drawing ourselves away from people watching, we carried on with the hike. Next stop – Corniglia! Once again we climbed up and up and up, found the flat and then descended down, down, down into the next village. Again we were greeted with a colourful rainbow, each town different but the same.
With the next two coastal tracks closed we were forced to take the more challenging inland tracks. Thank goodness we did! The track from Corniglia to Manarola was by far our favourite! Yes, the steep uneven stairs made for an even sweatier (if that was even possible) walk but wow was it worth it! Despite being titled “inland” we were still treated with incredible oceanic views. Then add to that tall pine trees offering a cool shade, followed by rows and rows of cliff side vineyards, olive and lemon trees. It was an amazing two hours of walking!
We finished the day with one final inland track from Manarola to Riomaggiore; the final of the 5 villages. Even steeper stairs began and finished this leg of the walk. Thank goodness this section only estimated one hour!
As the hike came to an end we were torn. We didn’t want it to finish but at the same time our legs were ready to rest. Feeling accomplished and in need of a prize we decided to celebrate with one last Italian Gelato. Taking the train back to Monterosso we happily licked up our well deserved treats before taking a refreshing dip in the ocean.
The Cinque Terre was the perfect way to finish our Italian experience. Especially after all the pasta, pizza, calezone, arincini, gelato, tiramisu, canoli, salami, cheese and wine we’ve devoured in Italy. The exercise was warmly welcomed! Thank you Italy!