“The Five Lands” in the Liguria region of Italy offer amazing sea views and give you a taste of what coastal Italian life is like.The coastline and the five villages are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are all just a few minutes away by train! You can actually visit all five villages in one day…and this is not even being ambitious. You can also hike as well, but while we were there, the hiking routes were closed, so that wasn’t an option. There is also the ferry boat option, but again, we didn’t see any available during our time there. All three methods of transportation offer great views though!
The best place to set as your “base,” would be Vernazza. In other cities, you kind of have to carry your luggages uphills to get to your hotel. In Vernazza, you’re into the village right off the train station. It’s simple and convenient!
To get a better view of the port, you can walk up to Al Castello. For 1.5euros. There is also a restaurant up there as well. I’ve heard only okay reviews for it, but the view might be worth it!
While you are here though, don’t miss Ristorante Da Piva‘s seafood risotto! Definitely a hidden gem. We came across it because it was right next to our hotel. The seafood risotto is served in a huge pot for two, still sizzling when it was served! Perfect on a cold windy night.
I am not a risotto person (unless there is truffle involved). I’ve had several risottos before, but none were good. I just didn’t like the whole soupy-rice concept. But when I read that the seafood risotto was the restaurant specialty, and made from their secret recipe, I decided we should give it a go. It was soooo delicious! Steamy hot when it was served, and we could hear the broth still bubbling. The broth was amazing, all the taste of the seafood was in it! We should’ve waited for the rice to soak up the soup a bit though…because the risotto just kept tasting better and better towards the end!! We wanted to go back on our second night, but it was unfortunately closed 😦
Riomaggiore is the first village you encounter if you’re coming from La Spezia. There isn’t much to do in the town except to enjoy the sea views. The “hike” from this village to the next is only 25 minutes. We wanted to do that, but the route was closed.
Monterosso is the biggest village, and probably my favorite since it has more of a lively village life than the other ones. Lots of cool shops and dining options. There was also a market on the day that we visited. You can buy some local specialties such as pesto and the local white wine.
The third village Corniglia is the only village where you have to climb for a bit to get to once you’ve reached the train station. There is a small shuttle bus you can try to catch as well. The village is actually just one main street on a cliffside, sort of like Mont Saint Michel in Normandy.
Once you reach the end of the main street, you’ll get an amazing view of the ocean. From the photos I have, the view of the ocean probably looks the same from everywhere, but I assure you that you will get a different view from every village!
Compared to northern Italy and southern Italy, Cinque Terre offered such a different atmosphere and ambiance to Italy. Here you can experience the rural and ruggedness of the fishermen’s lifestyle. Whereas going to northern Italy, cities like Rome and Venice, people can be a bit snobbish, as in all other big cities. But here, it is a friendly smile everywhere you go. The villages are so small that the residences pretty much know each other. We actually weren’t able to book the hotel we wanted in Vernazza, but the owner told us that his friend had a house open so we could just stay there!
I don’t know what’s not to like about this place…great views, great seafood, and great people!