A region renowned for its beauty and sun-drenched splendour; Italy’s Cinque Terre is one of Europe’s most alluring seaside areas. The five towns that make up the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Monterosso al Mare, Coniglia, Manarola and Vernzazza – provide a perfect insight into Mediterranean life. Everything from the surrounding vistas and the atmosphere, to the hospitable locals and the cuisine perfectly embody the laid back nature of the Italian Riviera.
Anyone who’s travelled to the Cinque Terre will tell you the same thing – these towns ooze a unique brand of enchantment. In fact, we’re of the opinion that it could well be the most charming cluster of towns in the world. Based on the following, it’s certainly hard to deny.
The incredible seafood
With their obvious proximity to the ocean, the five towns of the Cinque Terre serve up some of the finest seafood in all of Italy. The dishes are often uncomplicated and traditional, focusing on maximising the freshness of the produce without unnecessary meddling. Keep your eyes peeled for lobster pasta, and anything including accuighe (white anchovies) – a local specialty.
The Cinque Terre aren’t often though of as being destinations for beach-goers, but the jagged coastline does offer up a few lovely spots to sun yourself. The best is likely Monterosso (it has sand!), whilst the others are predominantly stony affairs. That said, relaxing with the Mediterranean stretched out before you and a glass of wine in hand, the Cinque Terre beaches pretty glorious with or without sand. Perhaps more popular than the beaches, though, are the rocks and piers situated around the coastline. When the weather’s good, there’ll be scores of sun-worshippers sprawled across both.
It’s relatively untouched
It might be something of a tourist mecca, but as the Cinque Terre is still relatively hard to access – you can only get there by train – it maintains a certain old-world Italian charm. Despite the many international tourists, it’s also a getaway destination for Italians – who presumably don’t want the internationals having all the fun!
The Portovenere difference
You may not know much about Portovenere beyond the Lord Byron poetry connection. But with its views of snow-capped mountains to the north and Mediterranean to the south, Portovenere has nestled itself nicely into a calm cove and welcomes far fewer visitors than the towns down the ‘road’. With its café-lined waterfront, it often proves to be a stunning surprise for travellers.
The local connection
Taking the walks between towns is of course, a must. Whether you tackle the Lover’s Walk (easy-moderate) or the more challenging High Path, we recommend at least a short stroll to make the most of the surrounds. Beyond the scenery, it’s what you’ll see along the way that can really make the difference. Stumbling upon locals tending to sprawling vineyards on one of the walks, for example, isn’t something you can plan for. But it’s the kind of sight that will stay with you long after you return home.
Easily the most iconic and heavily photographed asset of the towns is the pastel-hued archiutecture. Like a children’s crayon box has been scattered across the coastline, the houses, restaurants and other establishments of the Cinque Terre are charmingly dilapidated and rustic. It can’t be underestimated what these elegant architectural icons of the Cinque Terre contribute to the area’s ambience.
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