It’s time for me to gush about Cinque Terre. Consider grabbing a snack because this could go on for a while. Cinque Terre is one of the most remarkably beautiful places in the world. From the colorful homes and verdant terraces to the ultramarine Mediterranean sea, it is stunning. It’s truly unreal how a place can be so magical and idyllic. Cinque Terre (five lands) is made up of 5 fishing villages along 6 miles of coastal Northern Italy. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as its own national park (Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre), and there are hiking trails that lead you along cliffs to each village. There’s also ferries, trains, and private boat tours that can take you from village to village. We did a lot of walking at Cinque Terre, and since it’s situated along cliffs, most of our walking was uphill or downhill.
Unlike some other major destinations in Italy, Cinque Terre is free of cars/traffic, and there’s no museums or other indoor attractions. Instead, it’s all about the sun and the sea and classic Italian culture. Though these towns are flooded with tourists, they are still very peaceful (especially if you’re not down by the hordes near the harbors), and they maintain their special heritage. For instance, I saw a couple of old Italian men walking uphill, presumably to their homes, with fishing poles in hand and buckets of fish. If you look up high enough, you can also see people walking along the terraces, checking on the grapes and other crops. Everyone here seemed so laid-back, and it was a lovely atmosphere to be immersed in.
We arrived in Riomaggiore after taking an early morning train ride from Florence. We visited two of the villages of Cinque Terre, and Riomaggiore seemed more laid back and less full of tourists than Manarola. There are lots of charming alleyways and spots to look out over the water.
All the homes are well-maintained and so pretty. In fact, everywhere in Cinque Terre was so picturesque–there were no dilapidated buildings, trash on the roads, or anything like that. I wonder if there are rules in places about the appearance of homes or some sort of guiding policies because all of the buildings had a cohesive color palette and similar architecture–obviously there were no skyscrapers or anything like that, but in general, nothing looked modern or struck me as out-of-place compared to the rest of the village.
Manarola has one of the most famous views of Cinque Terre, and it’s definitely worth a visit. There are several vantage points and also a restaurant that overlooks the view as well. I liked Manarola and we explored for quite a while, but there were so many people there.
The pastel homes in Manarola are so cute. I couldn’t get enough of them.
We took a ferry from Manarola back to Riomaggiore, and it was a quick ride but it was nice to be out on the water, and I think it was only 1 Euro more than taking the train back.
Once we got off the ferry in Riomaggiore, we sat outside this school for a long time because we were tired and it was really neat to see the local way of life. A mother pretending to be a dinosaur to make her son laugh, a toddler trying to walk but falling, parents on the benches smoking while chatting and watching their children. As I looked up from the school playground, I saw other locals leaning against their balcony railings, taking in the views as well.
Cinque Terre is known for its pesto. However, I had a pizza there (at a restaurant where Vicki got locked in the bathroom lol) and some gnocchi. Here’s some pictures of food!