One of our favourite parts of Italy was the UNESCO World Heritage area of Cinque Terre, consisting of five villages overhanging the rocky shores of the beautiful Ligurian Sea, on Italy’s Riviera. Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the Cinque Terre(pronounced CHINK-wey TAY-ra) villages, is a delight to visit.
After a long train journey from Venice with several interchanges, we arrived on the Cinque Terre to be greeted by the smell of fresh sea air. It’s here that the regional trains stop and we needed to board a local train to reach the village of Vernazza, where we were staying for three nights. We considered staying in the slightly busier Monterosso, but opted for the small village of Vernazza, which turned out to be just perfect. We then visited each of the other four villages over the coming days.
The villages are virtually traffic-free, as you need a special permit to bring a vehicle into them. Thre’s mostly only foot traffic, with the fastest way to travel between villages being the train, or take the ferry for the scenic route … unless you have the time to walk. The Cinque Terre walking trails and villages, which wind their way along steep hillsides covered in grape vines, have become world famous for their beauty and charm.Visiting the Cinque Terre was one of the major reasons I wanted to go to Italy. We would have loved to walk all the trails between the five villages, but due to storms and landslides, only one trail was open at the time of our visit – the Vernazza to Monterosso trail. Walking this trail was a true delight and further details can be found in the post – Walking the Cinque Terre Trail, Vernazza to Monterosso. We would highly recommend hiking this trail – the views are truly spectacular.
By the time we arrived in Monterosso, we were in need of a cool drink and a sit down. We stumbled into the first café we saw and enjoyed a drink while we rested our legs as we looked out over the clear blue sea. Once we felt refreshed, we continued on, down to the town itself.
There are two parts of Monterosso – Old town, or Centro Storico, and New town or Fegina. The names speak for themselves. The Old town is rustic and charming with cobblestone streets and narrow winding laneways. We spent some time wandering around the charming old town and checking out the range of lovely little shops before walking around to the new town to find a very delicious focaccia for lunch. Just around the point, past the fascinating 16th century fort, is the new town, where you’ll find the parking area, train station and tourist information office.
Monterosso is the most vibrant of the five villages, offering a multitude of hotels – from small B&B’s to mid-range accommodation, plenty of restaurants and several night spots for those who wish to indulge. During the day, the beachfront is popular, and you can hire an umbrella and a beach chair – which is advisable as the beach is mostly made up of pebbles with a little sand.
We could easily have spent more time in beautiful Monterosso, but the remaining villages beckoned us. By jumping on the train, we could be in either Corniglia, Riomaggiore, Manarola or Vernazza in just a few minutes.
Have you been to the Cinque Terre? Did you stay in one of the five villages? Which was your favourite village?
The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone!
Read related posts in this fascinating series here:
The journey to Cinque Terre: When things didn’t go according to plan – Walking the Cinque Terre trail from Vernazza to Monterosso – Charming Vernazza – Santa Margherita Church, Vernazza – Castello di Vernazza
Linking up with A Hole in My Shoe for #TheWeeklyPostcard