Ah, Cinque Terre…my love affair with you started off with a Rick Steves video. Not wanting to be super basic and go to Venice, Florence, and Rome, I started looking at some possible other places we could go in Italy. And then I learned all about this enchanting little coastal strip in the Northwest region of Italy. Cinque Terre is made up of 5 little villages along a 6 mile stretch. Each one has it’s own vibe, but all are very conducive to a relaxing, more slower paced lifestyle. Plus, the seafood is fantastic.
When I started researching how to get there, it proved to be a bit difficult. The city is up on cliffs along the sea. Trains were infrequently, as were buses. Plus, lugging our bags up several hundred steps didn’t sound like too much fun. And you never want traveling during vacation to eat up too much of your time.
So we decided to book a day trip through TripAdvisor. I am soooo glad we did this. Our 2 tour guides were so sweet and fun! I really feel like we got a great taste of the 5 different villages, we had plenty of freedom, but the transportation and other details were all taken care of for us. I highly recommend this tour if you plan to visit multiple cities in Italy. Or if you want to squeeze in a day trip to see this beautiful city!
So the day began much like our other days in Italy – with a croissant (this one was creme-stuffed) and a dupoio espresso. We headed to the bus station for about a 2 hour bus ride, which wasn’t bad because we were so excited. Also our tour guides gave us lots of info on the cities and even the areas we were passing through on the way there. We passed through some of the largest marble quarries in the world on our way there! We also saw some beautiful gardens and farms along the way.
As I mentioned before, Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages, and we started out in Manarola, since that was the only village that provided parking for buses. In this town we got oriented, walked a little through town, got some first glaces of the beautiful views, and eventually took a very short 3-minute train ride to the next town!
Once we got to Corniglia, it was time for a pre-hike lunch. We had the option to eat by ourselves, or go with the group, and we decided to eat with the others at a place called Ristorante Cecio. The first course was a fresh marinated seafood salad made with calamari, mussels, and vegetables. Then came an amazing pesto pasta with potatoes. And of course some crusty Italian bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Had to carb up for the big hike! It was a pleasure to dine outside in the shade overlooking the beautiful Ligurian Sea while chatting with an older Australian couple in our group.
Then came time for hiking! I was very excited about this. So was my travel buddy, Gabby. We decided it would be a good idea to do the trail as fast as possible so that we could go swimming afterwards! This was definitely a challenging hike. It was quite rocky and steep, but really fun and exciting with some gorgeous views. I would have loved to liked through all 5 villages, but we just didn’t have enough time for that. Once we made our way to the next village, Vernazza, we rewarded ourselves with a dip in the ocean and some drinks. I can’t even explain how cold and refreshing that water was! We were soooo sweaty from the hike, that water felt incredible. It was so clear and blue, you could see every rock and pebble in the water. It was absolutely gorgeous and I’ll never forget floating in that water without a care in the world.
After a few drinks on a beautiful patio overlooking the harbor, we hopped on the last train of the day to go to Monterosso, one of the most resort-like villages out of the five. While Gabby stayed on the beach, I wandered into town since I felt like I hadn’t been in the villages much that day. I had a great time doing this. I went to a little wine bar and got a glass of Pinot Grigio to go and started meandering through the streets. One of the guides recommended this bakery that made this amazing fried bread pastry filled with cheese, so obviously I found this place and oh my god this little pocket of goodness was heaven. I also stumbled upon lemon orchards and took a wrong turn and saw the set up for a wedding! It was so precious.
To get to our last village of the day, we boarded a ferry to Riomaggiore. Here we got the best fried calamari I’ve ever had, then some pesto lasagna to bring home for dinner later, which was also incredible. Everything was so fresh and delicious on this little section of the Italian coast, I didn’t want to leave! We finished up with some last minute purchases and then headed home.
This day was was filled with so many of my favorite things: food, hiking, swimming, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. This is one of my favorite days of all of our time in Italy! It was filled with beauty and good things.