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Liguria (The Cinque Terre) - Regions of Italy

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The Cinque Terre

Jacki Christopher for www.Italy101.com

Located in the northwestern region of Italy, just to the east of France, the region of Liguria forms a generous portion of the Ligurian Sea coast. Known also as the Italian Riviera, Liguria is famous for its expanse of beaches, bluffs, seafood and sun.

When visiting the Ligurian region of Italy, don’t miss the legendary Cinque Terre—the five small villages along the coast. When hopping from town to town by train, it’s not hard to figure out what makes this place special. Quaint winding streets, fresh seafood and local agricultural products, and miles and miles of Italian Riviera coastline capture the heart of every vacation-seeker that sets down their flip-flop. Even UNESCO deemed it worthy of ‘World Heritage Site’ recognition. While once a little-known hideaway, the Cinque Terre is now widely beloved for its beauty, charm, and traditional Italian allure.

The region of the Cinque Terre, Italian for “five lands” includes just that: five villages running along the Ligurian Sea. Starting with Monterosso al Mare to the north and west, the chain continues to Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Despite widespread tourist-love among Italians and internationals alike, it is still possible to achieve an authentic travel experience. To sidestep some of the tourist mass that descends upon the Cinque Terre in high season (June-August) plan your trip when temperatures will still be favorable, but numbers less overwhelming. Be sure to have lodging booked in advance to avoid endless luggage-laden slogging from one packed hotel to the next. To get to the region, take a regional train from La Spezia, Genoa, or Milan to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the five villages. Once in Monterosso, you can easily travel town to town by local train. The Cinque Terre generally lacks proper roads and parking—cars are not recommended.

Plan to spend at least a couple of days in the Cinque Terre. This allows time for a day or two of relaxation and sunbathing, and leaves a day for a trip through the Parco Nazionale della Cinque Terre. Even if you don’t fancy yourself a hiker, this trip through the hills and terraces is a ‘must-do’.

For a peak experience, get an early start and catch the regional train to the beginning of the trail in Riomaggiore. Wander along the paved Via dell’ Amore (‘Lover’s Lane) until you reach Manarola. Here you find yourself at a crossroads—an opportunity to take the ‘road less traveled’. The trail to the next town, Corniglia, is closed for maintenance and is not scheduled to reopen for at least a year. The unadventurouse hiker will skip from Manarola to Corniglia via the regional train that runs about every half hour (delays common). But if you’re looking for a spectacular off-the-beaten path view of the region, take the trek up into the hills via Volastra. Wander among olive groves, grape vines, and fig trees as you make your way up into the mountain. At the top, the town of Volastra allows you a quick stop to catch your breath before you begin your descent to Corniglia. Once in Corniglia, you’ll meet up again with the original hiking path. Grab a quick lunch of focaccia and cheese before heading on to Vernazza and Monterosso. Or, if the mountain walk has left you unable to scale one more step, hop the train back to the town where you’re lodging.

Not up for hiking the entire trail? If there is one leg of the trip that’s not to be missed, it’s the off-the-beaten-path jaunt between Manarola and Corniglia. Because the path is technically a detour, you’ll encounter far fewer tourists than on other stretches of the journey. Get started before late morning, and you’ll have the trail and its breathtaking vistas all to yourself.

Finish off a long day of sunbathing or hiking with a glass of sciachetrà, the Cinque Terre’s regional wine. Sample some of the local artisanal agricultural products like olives, cheese, figs, and the famous pesto. After a shower, select one of the beachfront restaurants dotting the coastline for a fresh seafood pasta or grilled catch of the day. Complete your evening with a stroll along the beach and then fall exhausted into bed. Buona Sera.

Angelo Giovanni Spinola Palace - Credit - Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Angelo Giovanni Spinola Palace.

Credit: Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Brignole Sale Palace - Credit - Angenzia Regionale In Liguria

Brignole Sale Palace.

Credit: Angenzia Regionale In Liguria

Nunziata Square - Credit - Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Nunziata Square.

Credit: Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Pallavicini Palace - Credit - Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Pallavicini Palace.

Credit: Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Tobia Pallavicini Palace - Credit - Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

Tobia Pallavicini Palace.

Credit: Agenzia Regionale In Liguria

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