I hadn’t been that excited for long time, after hearing so much about the Cinque Terre I just couldn’t wait to finally see those beautiful views with my own eyes.
Known as one of the most beautiful natural areas of the Italian Mediterranean coast in Liguria (recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), these 5 small villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso – were now high on our list of places to see during our Italian tour.
Before getting there we did our homework and, also thanks to one of our couchsurfing hosts that is from the area, we knew that the villages were connected either with a train track that finds itself a way along the coast, or by walking and hiking trails.
We were much more interested in walking than hiking from one village to the next so we could take in as much as possible in our short day trip.
Let The Adventure Begin!
After a little nap on the train (while Dale almost finished to read his book) we got off at Riomaggiore and we were astonished by the view from the moment we stepped out the train door.
We started walking straight away and found ourselves on some kind of terraces built on the cliffs from where we could overlook the sea and the village too. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
The area looked kind of ‘forgotten’ with very little visible corporate development in the nicest possible way: the streets, the houses, the terraces, the shops seemed all very tiny and compact and in a way they seemed like they belonged to a different era. We could easily see how they had been adapted to the geography of the area where they had been built on. Such a different structure and landscape!
The fact that they were very quiet contributed to reinforcing the peaceful picture of Riomaggiore we drew in our head. It might have also been because it was just after 8am (yes, we set off nice and early even with lack of a good night sleep, don’t ask). Crazy or clever? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
To get to the next town, Manarola, we took what apparently is the ‘easiest’ section of the walking trail that connects the 5 villages, Via dell’Amore (Lovers lane). Only after paying €5 each for our pass for the day, something that, according to the locals, has been added not long ago. They must have realized how popular the place has become and decided to make some serious money out of it – we all love business at the end, don’t we? We both mentioned that we hoped the money was going to support the towns, not just fill someone’s pockets.
This path excavated through the hard rock of the cliffs was a pleasant and easy stroll for both of us, not too high (even for myself), with some benches every now and then dug in the rock.
There also is a “love seat” in a shape of a male and female locked in a kiss, where apparently many couples stop to take a picture (we didn’t by the way), what happens if you are single? 🙂
We noticed there were many padlocks along the way put in the weirdest places. Some from fences, some even on netting that scaled up the cliff side. It’s unbelievable how high some people climbed to put theirs – they must have been quite skilled to do so!
I didn’t like seeing that some of the plants – especially the cactus that spontaneous grow from the top of the hills down to the water level – had been carved with names of those who’d passed by, loving messages or simply rude words. I found it not only disrespectful against nature (I don’t think they would do the same to the plants they have got at their homes), but also ugly to see! NOT HAPPY!
Our Favorite Village
Without even noticing it, we arrived in Manarola and from the beginning we both perceived the particular charm of this place that captured us more than the one we’d just visited.
There were so many boats resting up (who knows how long for) everywhere in the little streets.
It’s not rocket science to guess that apart from tourism, this village must have lived off fishing too.
We reached a nice little swimming area crowded with American tourists (you can’t help but recognize that so distinct accent, even if we were 100 ft above them :D) who were enjoying themselves in the refreshing sea water.
While Dale was making the most of his (Dale -Limited!) photographic skills, I noticed a little path almost hidden by the rocks that – considering how curious I am – I couldn’t resist to take.
I was so pleased I did, there was absolutely nobody there, just myself and the sea open in front of me. I couldn’t help sitting down to listen to its sound until Dale eventually found me.
Such a peaceful sound!
We made our way into the captivating village and the more we walked through it, the more we fell in love with it! SIMPLY STUNNING!
From far away we spotted a little terrace with picnic tables in the shade and considering it was getting hotter and hotter we thought it would have been the best place to feed our tummies, to rest and enjoy the view at the same time. IT WAS A NO-BRAINER!
Next stop – Corniglia!
We were craving for more sights so here we were already on the next walking trail to get to the next town, Corniglia.
Due to the usual walking path still being closed due to damages caused from the previous flood in 2011 we had to take an alternative hiking path, The Way of the Sanctuaries. Only afterwards we realized how lucky we had been to be ‘forced’ by those circumstances to take a path that we didn’t consider taking in the first place.
Once in Cornaglia, we needed to recover from the long and difficult walk, so we just chilled going from one bench to another in the town, enjoying different landscapes we could get from different points of views.
In fact this town is the only one out of the five that is not near the sea-level but higher.
It felt even smaller than the other 2 we already visited, but just as quaint as them.
It was already after 5pm, we knew we couldn’t possibly see the last two villages because we wanted to head back in time for the Pisa’s Luminara that was on that same night, so, we took the train promising ourselves that one day we will go back to complete what we couldn’t had that day.
Our expectation before visiting this little paradise were really high and we are happy to say that we were not let down at all at the end of the day, on the contrary we were more than satisfied!