Breathtaking Cinque Terre Italy
When I hear the words Cinque Terre Italy, or even just Italy, I immediately relax! My mind wanders and I'm transported back to a comfortable boulder, warmed by the sun, where I sit drinking my coffee early one morning, watching the crystal clear, deep blue water of the Mediterranean. The quiet little picturesque town is starting to wake up. The Gelateria is surprisingly already opened and the bakery and restaurants are calmly preparing for the day. There are already a few hikers up above, walking through the grape vines and olive groves terraced high around the town. The laundry hanging from the pastel houses seems to have been carefully placed piece-by-piece through town by an artist preparing the set. In fact, the whole scene feels like a movie set!
The Cinque Terre Italy will forever be my calming touchstone. When I'm stressed out with work or from parenting teenagers, I'll close my eyes and return to my Italian Riviera.
Easily the most romantic place on earth, the Cinque Terre is equally life-changing alone or, as I first saw it, with my Mom and two kids in tow. My boys have never looked happier... They spent hour-upon-hour jumping and climbing from rock to rock along the breakwater.
The pictureque Cinque Terre has to be the best hiking in Italy. No, I haven't tried hiking everywhere it Italy... yet, but I've certainly never found better trails for me. The hiking ranged from an easy stoll (more like a walking tour) between some villages to thousands of uneven steps up-down-up-down between others. Even the most difficult hikes were just so beautiful, with an incredible view around every turn, that I've never been so blissfully exhausted in my entire life! If you ever want to try a hiking vacation in Italy, do NOT miss this region!
And swimming in the Mediterranean was amazing too. The water is a crystal clear, gorgeous, deep blue! And it's so salty! I've never floated so well! It was an incredible experience to be able to stay afloat for hours on end with barely any treading water! To stay above water, I just occasionally moved my arms a little, smoothly and feeling rather like a mermaid ;-)
There's a ferry between four of the five villages (all but Corniglia) and several other smaller charters. We haven't boated when we've visited, but it seems a beautiful way to see the region, especially if you're unable to hike. There were lots of boats to look at, both locals' and visitors' anchored offshore at each village. I'll have to find a way onto one of them next time I'm there!
I LOVE Italian food! I've always loved Italian food and I even learned a little Italian as a teenage just because I loved the food so much (and there were these cute Italian twins at school ;-). But, after finally tasting the food from the Liguria region of Italy, in each of these five villages, I'm truly a changed person. I'll never taste pesto in the States again without longing for the Cinque Terre's pesto! It was SO creamy and just plain delicious! Of course, this is the region of Italy that invented pesto so it's logical that it's better here... but just how much better was still shocking. I came home and promptly grew more basil than I've ever grown, trying each and every variety I could find, and I never came close! So I've given up. I'll just have to return to the region every chance I get!
And, of course, pesto wasn't the ONLY thing that was delicious there! Every dish we tried was scruptious! I've never been much of a seafood fan and, being right on the Meditteranean, of course most of the dishes had seafood in them. They were all fantastic!
And the region's white wine is delicious too! I usually prefer red wines but you're not truly traveling if you don't try the wines from each region that makes them!! And these whites were delicious! Our favorite meal, after the first few days of exploring, was a picnic down at the breakwater, with a bottle of white wine and a pesto pizza... NOT the pesto pizza you get in the States! This is a perfectly made red sauce pizza with creamy pesto drizzled on top. Again, I've tried to replicate it back home, but it just isn't the same!
I think I've probably covered how relaxing the area is sufficiently by now! I even caught glimpses of my 10 and 13 year olds sitting alone on a rock, looking out to sea, and just thinking! After 5 weeks of traveling through Europe, touring amazing art museums, climbing towers, and exploring medieval castles, the Cinque Terre was the perfect ending to our adventurous European Summer! My whole family fell in love with this region of Italy and we hope you will too! If you've already been, then I hope these pages will help you re-live your own fond memories and, if you have yet to discover this Italian slice of heaven, then I hope you'll enjoy getting a glimpse through my eyes and be able to plan your own getaway to the most beautiful and relaxed place on earth. It truly is breathtaking!
The Five Towns
1. Monterosso (or Monterosso al Mare), the northernmost Cinque Terre town, is the most resort-like of the towns. It has the biggest, sandiest beach, and the biggest hotel chains. There's a seaside promenade, with lots of cafes, shops, hotels, and restaurants. and steps up to the old village center. We didn't spend long in Monterosso and never managed to get back to our starting town, but it was a beautiful first stop on our way to Vernazza.
2. Vernazza is my favorite of the Cinque Terre towns. In my opinion, it's the jewel of the Cinque Terre. It's the most picturesque, fun and quaint at the same time, very accessible, and terrific for swimming or kayaking without a crowd!
3. Corniglia is unique within the Cinque Terre! The entire village of Corniglia is high up on the cliffs rather than trickling down to the waterfront as the other Cinque Terra villages do.
4. Manarola is the fourth Cinque Terra towns. It's harbor isn't as conducive to anchored boats as Vernazza or Monterosso, so the entire town seems to have boats parked right outside their doors, all the way up the main road! It makes for a unique, colorful, and very quaint site!
5. Riomaggiore is the southernmost town in the Cinque Terre Italy. The colorful, stacked homes come right up to the waterfront so there's less of a piazza to hang out in but it has terrific rocks to sunbathe and people watch on!
Photos of Cinque Terre Italy
Here are some of our favorite Cinque Terre images. We were never so happy to have our camera with us as when we were in this picturesque region! We'll treasure these Cinque Terre pictures for the rest of our lives (and we hope to take many more on future trips there)!
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