Visiting Cinque Terre, Italy: A Four Day Itinerary

Cinque Terre, translated as "Five Lands" consists of 5 beautiful fishing villages: Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Manarola. They are located on the northwestern coastline of Italy. With beautiful pastel homes, green terraces, seafood and wine, you will find yourself gasping in awe throughout your trip. 

 Vernazza

Four Days in Cinque Terre: Our Itinerary
Location: Cinque Terre, Italy (We chose to stay in Vernazza, but you can really stay in any of the towns, and visit the others, since they are all so close to each other. If I were to go back I would stay in Manarola, because I liked the swimming area there.)
Time frame: May, 2018
Weather: Varied from ~60 to ~75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Be prepared to sweat and swim one day and wear a light jacket the other. 
Key Items to Bring: 
-Camera/or cell + selfie stick
-Good hiking shoes -- you will be walking up stairs constantly and hiking 
-Backpack (for hiking)
-Water bottles (for hiking)
-Sunglasses 
-Bathing suit
-Light jacket for nighttime or rainy/cooler days
Transportation while in the city: Walk and train -- transportation in Cinque Terre is VERY convenient. It's super simple to get to each village by train (or hiking). All you have to do is buy the Cinque Terre pass by the train stations, and they will give you a map and explain.
Accommodations: Airbnb -- get one quickly, they sell out fast in the summer since the place is so popular!
Misc. Tips: Make reservations ahead of time at restaurants, there are a lot of tourists and they get packed quickly. Also note that restaurants are closed in the middle of the day, so plan mealtimes wisely.

Day 1: Travel to Vernazza, visit Castello Doria and Santa Margherita di Antiochia's church

Coming from Rome, we really enjoyed the train ride to Cinque Terre. We passed several beautiful villages by the sea.

When we arrived in Vernazza, we went up the stairs to Castello Doria, a castle that has a lookout with a beautiful view overlooking the water. Climbing up to the top of the lookout was a bit scary admittedly, with narrow spiral stairs that several tourists were trying to navigate. If you don't like enclosed spaces, don't go up to the very top, just stay outside the spiral stairs -- the view is just as beautiful.


At Castello Doria

After seeing the castle we went to this cute little bar near our Airbnb and had a drink there. Then we moved on to see Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church. Afterwards, we sat looking at the water for a bit, feeling relaxed.

Finally, we had dinner at Gianni Franzi (amazing seafood). We sat outside and listened to the buzz of conversation, and the water spilling out onto the shore. We loved our waiter, who gave us some tips on how to eat like Italians. For example, don't put any parmesan cheese on your spaghetti with clams!

Day 2: Hike to Corniglia, Train to Manarola (Pack a Bathing Suit!)

In the morning, we woke up and hiked to the village of Corniglia, which was so beautiful. We were not hikers, but we loved the path and became hikers after this trip. As we approached Corniglia, towards the end of the hike, the town came into view. The village in the distance on the edge of cliffs, surrounded by vineyards and looking out at the sea, was breathtaking.

Corniglia is the only village of the 5 that does not have direct access to the sea. It's unique because it sits on top of a tall cliffside, making for a beautiful view as you look out onto the ocean.
Hiking to Corniglia -- village in the distance

Hiking to Corniglia (Corniglia ahead)
At Corniglia, we saw St. Mary's Terrace, the Church of St. Peter, the square (Largo Taragio) & the Oratory of Santa Caterina. We walked around and got lost in some of the winding roads for fun, then ate lunch looking at the ocean (seafood of course -- this was before I became vegetarian...).

After exploring Corniglia, we took the train to Manarola. This was my favorite village, and if I went back I would stay there. The reason I liked it so much is because I love to swim, and they had a great swimming area there, with rocks to jump from. The water was freezing, but so refreshing.


Manarola

Looking out above the Manarola swimming area

We got some gelato while we were there, and explored the area a bit, and visited a local church. 

We went up to Nessun Dorma for dinner, which really was just a cocktail place with great views. We didn't love the long wait to get in or the food, but the cocktails were great and we really enjoyed looking at the city!


Sunset when leaving Manarola

Day 3: Hike to Monterosso!

On our third day, we hiked from Vernazza to the village of Monterosso. We loved the hike, it took a couple of hours and had some beautiful views like the one below.


A view of Vernazza when leaving for the hike to Monterosso


Hiking to Monterosso

Monterosso has a long stretch of beach to lay out on, however it was a bit chilly the day we were there, so we didn't swim or even spend much time on the beach. After we explored the town a bit, we took the train back to Vernazza and had dinner at Ristorante Belforte. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the sea, and a lot of great seafood.


Day 4: Riomaggiore!

On our last day in beautiful Cinque Terre, we took the train to the only village we hadn't seen yet, Riomaggiore. We wanted to hike there from Corniglia, but the trail was closed.

It was a bit stormy the night before, so we observed the stormy water at the marina. Then we hiked around to The Sanctuary of our Lady of Montenero. We wanted to see the Castle of Riomaggiore, but unfortunately it was closed because it was Monday. Finally, we locked our love on the entrance to the Villa del Amore.
Hiking around Riomaggiore!

That concludes our trip! We will definitely be going back one day.  

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