Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The five villages that make Cinque Terre

Being able to visit Cinque Terre was almost like a dream come true. I remember seeing this picturesque location all over my Instagram feed and am grateful to finally be able to set foot there. When it comes to exploring picturesque coastline in Italy, the first two that is most likely to come to mind is Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast. I unwillingly opted out the latter from my Italy itinerary, as it was off the route (Bummer! However, shall save Amalfi Coast on the next when I travel the south of Italy). As you might already know, "Cinque Terre" translates to Five Lands. It is made up of five main villages & together they make up the Cinque Terre National Park which is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is perched along the rugged cliffside of the Italian Riviera and in each town, you will find colourful terraces, steep winding streets, tasteful calamari(s), countless fishing boats that bob along the harbour. The entire place is just postcard-perfect; undeniably pleasing to the eyes. 

A little guide based on my trip (there are many other options & what is written here is just a suggestion):

How we got there
We took a 3 hour train ride first thing in the morning directly from Florence to Cinque Terre. 

How we travel around the 5 villages
The best/fastest way is by train as each village has a small train station. Riding these trains between towns would be the most efficient way of getting around the town.  I'd recommend getting the Cinque Terre card which gives you unlimited access to all 5 villages but if you only intend to visit 1/2 places in a day then a single ride ticket which cost would suffice. 

Ride the train from Riommaggiore to Monterosso where you can make all local stops and explore towns in the middle - Manarola, Corniglia, or Vernazza. The towns are only few minutes away from one another which makes exploring a lot easier. 

Where to get your ticket
It can be purchased there and then itself! 

We only managed to explore Vernazza, Riommaggiore and Monterosso as time wasn't on our side but these 3 places has already showed me so much of what Cinque Terre has to offer. Nothing like being able to take in a 360 view of all that is around you. More visuals down below that will speak for itself! 

Vernazza, a favourite town to many. Hiking is a popular thing to do while visiting this area and the trail from the first hill of Vernazza to Monterosso gives you the best view back over the town as can be seen in the above picture. We did not hike during our trip but we took an easy route from Vernazza just to witness this breathtaking iconic view of Vernazza. Simply ask around and the kind Italians will direct you there.

Riomaggiore, the southern most town on the coast which is also the closest to La Spezia (the main city where people often change trains to arrive in the area.) It only has one main street and there is a trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola, a popular stroll and the easiest one which is also known as The Lover's Lane.

Monterosso, the only town with a rocky seaside leading through to the quaint town. This particular town is renowned for its colourful umbrellas lining the coast which makes the entire Monterosso a spectacular view. Bare in mind that this particular town is almost always packed with sunbathers/tourists that flock right to the beach. Not to mention, it's the only town with the most restaurants, cafes and shops which draws the crowd. 

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