Posted by: debrakolkka | January 5, 2010

Cinque Terre

First of all I would like to say that it is NOT COMPULSORY to walk between the 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre.  The track is narrow, crowded and it will almost certainly be hot.  The villages used to be virtually inaccessible, except by boat, but now it is possible to drive, catch the train or travel by boat.

My favourite way to see the villages is from the sea.  We usually drive to Riomaggiore where there is a small car park.  There is a boat that travels from Riomaggiore (the southern most village) to Monterosso ( the most northerly).  On the way back it stops at Vernazza and Manarola, depending on the weather.

Cinque Terre coastline at Riomaggiore


Sun worshipers on the rocks at Riomaggiore

Each village has its own character.  They were originally fishing villages and the occupants grew grapes and olives on the steep slopes leading to the sea.  These products are no longer viable and many original inhabitants have sold their properties to developers for hotels and holiday homes.  Unfortunately this means that what attracts tourists to the villages is slowly disappearing.  They still look wonderful with the colourful houses in a jumble, clinging to the sides of the very steep hills, but it will be a pity if the grape vines are no longer there.  I have heard that the government is offering incentives to encourage people to continue to tend the vines.  I hope this is correct.

Corniglia, the village in the middle, is perched high on a cliff and you will need to walk up lots of steps or drive in from the road behind the villages.  It is narrow and winding, but Corniglia is impossibly cute and worth the effort to get there.  There is one narrow main street and a tiny piazza with a spectacular view over the Mediterranean.

Harbour at Vernazza

Harbour and church at Vernazza

Vernazza is possibly the prettiest, but I like them all.  There is a tiny harbour and a pebble beach where you can cool you feet if you are walking.  There is a lovely old (very old) church near the harbour which is usually open for a visit.  If you are lucky you may just get a spot on the balcony of the restaurant on the sea front.

Inside the church at Vernazza looking out to the sea

Inside the church at Vernazza

Restaurant at the seafront

Monterosso is the largest of the villages and is in 2 parts.  There is a large beach in the harbour where the boat comes in.  If you walk up hill beside the sea and through a tunnel you will come to the other, rocky beach.  I have swum here in crystal clear water.  Remember to bring your rubber beach shoes as walking on these pebble beaches can be painful.  We had a most delicious lunch at Lo Scoglio, which is right on the beach.  The anchovies were fabulous.

Cinque Terre is about a 2 and a half hour drive from Bagni di Lucca.  You take the Autostrada towards Genova, take the exit to La Spezia and look for the signs.  It is possible to take a train from Via Reggio.  There are some direct trains, but you may need to change trains at La Spezia.  By car it is a reasonable day trip, but you would need to stay overnight to do it justice if you are taking public transport.

Our friend Di Cant at the laundry mat!


  1. […] were a few trips to the gorgeous Italian coast – Portovenere, Portofino, Cinque Terre. along the coast near […]

  2. Hi Deb and Liz, We are staying in Bagni di Lucca in June for two weeks. If we were to drive to Cinque Terre, would we have enough time to walk to some of the villages there, or shoud we take a boat?

    • It is roughly a 2hour drive to Cinque Terre, so if you left early you could spend a good day there. However, I think the tracks are still closed after the last collapse where 4 people were hurt. I think the boat is always a better option. The track is narrow, dangerous and very crowded when it is open.

      • Thank you so much. We will definitely look at taking the boat. I didn’t realise that the track had collapsed.

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: