Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

This is the first of a series of planning posts about an upcoming trip to Italy.  If you are also planning a trip to Italy in the summer of 2015, this should be helpful!  If it’s not 2015 anymore, I hope I’ve provided enough reference links for it to still be helpful.

Five Lands

The official Cinque Terre are five villages on the northern end of the west coast of Italy.  From north-west to south-east, they are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.  The spiffy part is that all of the villages are built up the side of the mountains on terraces; after my trip to Turkey I call this “Greek Architecture” because they always seem to be building towns up a hill in Turkey (back when that part was part of Greece) when there was a perfectly good plain nearby.   The buildings are typically painted up like a Easter egg.

The villages are linked together by a train line and walking paths etched into the sides of the mountains.  Unfortunately, due to landslides (, the lower paths from Riomaggiore to Manarola and Corniglia are closed, probably until April 2016.  There are upper paths, which are much longer, but also a train between the towns (there’s also ferries to go by boat, except Corniglia; it does not have a port).

If you want to walk the paths, that leaves you with two main path options, from Corniglia to Vernazza or Vernazza to Monterosso.  These are both longer, more challenging paths than the two closed ones.  Corniglia to Vernazza has a nearly 400′ ascent to the max height and a nearly 700′ descent into Vernazza. From there it’s a slow rise of about 570′ and a quick descent nearly all the way down into Monterosso.  Both paths are about 2 miles long.
There’s a prime photo spot a short distance up the Vernazza path towards Monterosso (; if you don’t want to do the whole path, that might be worth the walk to get the view descending into Vernazza.
A Cinque Terra card (€7.50 as of February 2015) gets you access to the main paths, local busses (they do not go between the towns, though) and some museums for 24 hours.  For an extra €5, you can get access to the trains that run from La Spezia through the Cinque Terra and on to Levanto for 24 hours.
There’s also beaches:  (That whole site is very helpful.)

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