Five colorful towns, known collectively as Cinque Terre, link together across the crashing waves of the Italian Riviera. Until recently, visitors to this outpost of calm and serenity could traverse between the towns only by foot or by boat—no cars here. Now, a train runs through the region, but hasn’t managed to change the simple and traditional culture remains. For these and more reasons, Cinque Terre is just one of those places that everyone can appreciate, and that’s why it made it into the 1000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day® calendar.
What you will find in Cinque Terre are some of the usual Italian delights: rich history, friendly locals, and, of course, tempting eats. What you won’t find is the fast-paced culture of Milan or Rome, or the multitude of museums in places like Florence. Here’s a rundown of the five villages that comprise Cinque Terre, and what to seek out in each:
1. Vernazza: Arguably the most popular of the region, Vernazza is marked by a near natural harbor formed by the bowl-shape of the coast. Castle ruins—complete with an adjacent bar—make for an enchanting setting. Look for the Italian version of an ice cream sandwich: scoops of gelato (yes, you can mix flavors), nestled in brioche. Then walk it off around town.
2. Monterosso: Possibly the most tourist-friendly of the five, with amenities like hotels, beach umbrellas, and a night scene. Venture to the historic center and check out the local wares.
3. Riomaggiore: Translating to “greater river,” this village offers strolls through its colorful residential neighborhoods. Check out World War II sights en route to the beach.
(Photo from Flickr, credit: Kelvin Lynch)
4. Manarola: Lunch upon focaccia and wine at the bars on Punta Bonfiglio.
(Photo from Flickr, credit: Brian Stacey)
5. Corniglia: Landlubber? Head to Corniglia, the only town not bordered by water. This town sits high upon the hills, so you’ll get a workout up 400 some stairs from the train station. Find a local vintner and sample their wines.
Bring a little more Italy into your life with a calendar of Italian scenery, like Tuscan flower-covered hills, Lake Como, and the craggy cliffs of Capri.
Read on for more on 1000 Places to See Before You Die book and calendar line from Workman Publishing and Page-A-Day.