Cinque Terre or five diamonds, is a small stretch of rocky coastline of the Italian Riviera, where people chose to build five settlements, far from the crowded cities, but just a step from the whims of the rushing sea. A holiday in Cinque Terre is a journey through time.
This region is known for its beauty and especially for not accepting the whirl of “modern times.” The coastline, five villages and hills that surround them, are part of the UNESCO-protected world site called the Cinque Terre National Park.
In 1998, the Italian Ministry of Environment declared the entire marine area as protected by law, in order to preserve the aquatic environment, local specifics and anthropological values.
For a long time, these picturesque settlements, without their consent, stayed away from the busy city world. With the construction of the first railroads in the area, the link between the two worlds was restored.
Each village has its own unique feature.
Riomaggiore is a small worker’s town, then there’s the picturesque Manarola, Corniglia up on a hill, then Vernazza, the most spectacular of all, and last but not least, Monterosso al Mare, which is the closest to the sea.
The figure five can be found in many places in the region: five lands, five settlements, a visit by train which takes five hours.
The five villages are linked by a trail called “Sentiero Azuro”, which covers a distance of 11 km and the highest point reaches 500 meters high.
If you want to go there, be prepared for a test of physical and mental strength, because the path is not easy. You climb hundreds of steps carved into the rock, you go on narrow paths above the sea, and while doing this, you may think you want to stop right there and then.
At the end of the road, you will be satisfied because you made a connection with nature, and because for about five hours, how long the trip lasts, you felt like another person. A person who smiled at all travelers whom he met on the road, a person who did not give up and who succeeded!
The route between Riomaggiore and Manarola is called Via dell Amore, and from end to end bears the mark of lovers who have passed through here.
Cinque Terre is not a place for sunbathing, and Monterosso is the only place where you can find a place for it. Tyrrhenian shores are full of rocks and is not recommended to venture offshore.
In Vernazza you can sit on the sand in a cove with shallow water. In Corniglia, if the waves are a little bigger, the beach is inaccessible. In Manarola you can do cliff jumping, and in Riomaggiore, the beach and also the seabed are full of large stones.
Vernazza is also called “the flirtatious lady of the sea”, and is the preferred destination by tourists. Here we find the only natural harbor in Cinque Terre, the water reaches to the edge of the buildings and causes boats to float like in a Venetian décor.
The church is near the port with walls decorated with three crosses, replicas of those brought here during the Crusades, all the way from Jerusalem.
If the day seemed like a piece of time ripped from the pages of history, past nightfall we can find all the benches filled with people, who want to enjoy the coolness of the evening.
Cinque Terre has no shortage of events. They may not be very big, but that are specific Italian, with a Mediterranean air.
In terms of gastronomy, here you can eat anchovies and squid filled with tagliatelle and “trofie” (an ancestor of pasta made from chestnut flour or wheat) with pesto sauce. Torte de verdura (vegetable pies) are also popular. So is rice pie, the grandparent’s specialty in the region.
The wine show must not to be missed, and also the harvest in early September.
All of these can be seen and feelt only if you take five days to visit the five villages over which times seemed to stop, everything remaining quiet from the the hustle and bustle of modern civilization.