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  • Writer's pictureMariko

Cinque Terra, Italy

For those who might not know, Cinque Terra means “5 Towns.” The Cinque Terra is located in Liguria which is part of the Italian riviera and is an easy day trip (via Italiarail or Trenitalia) from Florence or other parts of Tuscany.

You have to take a train to get to most of the five towns in one day. Coming from Florence, the first town is Riomaggiore, then Monarola, then Corniglia, Vernazza and finally Monterosso. To take the train you need to have a Cinque Terre card which costs around 7.50 euros. The card includes access to the Blue Path, unlimited train rides, free bus rides in all of the towns, and free access to the train restrooms. You can buy the Cinque Terre card in any of the train stations.

Riomaggiore had a very nice harbor where you can rent kayaks, climb the rocks or swim. This town also is the best place to get your touristy keepsakes-- wine, pesto, etc from the region. While Riomaggiore is a fun town to walk around and explore, I recommend saving most of your time for the later towns.

After Riomaggiore the next stop is Monarola. In Monarola I recommend going to the restaurant Nessen Dorma for some white wine, aperitifs, and a beautiful view of the town. For those who are daredevils, Monarola also had lots of opportunities for cliff jumping (some jumps are over 70 feet!).

View from Nessen Dorma!!!!

Corniglia is the only town not located right along the water. While a lot of people take the train through, I recommend stopping in Corniglia and hiking to the next town, Vernazza. To get to the town from the train station you can take the shuttle or climb up the 380 flights of stairs.

Corniglia is the quietest town of the five. I really enjoyed wandering the streets and taking a breather before the hike. Note that the public bathroom in Corniglia is literally a hole in the ground. If you need to go before your hike, I recommend using the restrooms at one of the train stations or at a previous village.

The hike, called The Blue Path, is about 3.5k. It is a little difficult to find the entrance, since the trail starts a little outside of town. If needed, navigate to Via Serra, 58, 19018 Vernazza SP, Italy which is right next to the entrance. Warning- while this is classified as "a simple" hike, it was very hot when I did it and took us up some very steep paths. Make sure to bring water and snacks. If needed, there is also a store that sells water about half way through. The hike took about 1.5 hours and ends in the 4th city Vernazza. It was on this hike that I saw some of the most breathtaking views of the coastline. While it is a workout, I highly recommend it!

Once in Vernazza, grab a gelato! You earned it after that hike. This is also where I recommend going into the water if you plan to. Monterosso, the 5th town, is considered the “beach” village, which unfortunately means it is the most crowded. To get to the best swimming spot in Vernazza, walk all the way down to the water and then follow the pathway to your right.

Last but not least, Monterosso. This town is the epitome of the Italian Riviera, sunbeds and all. I recommend avoiding the crowds at the beach and explore Monterosso's restaurants for lunch or dinner. Make sure to order something with Pesto alla genovese, which is one of the most famous foods to come out of the Cinque Terre region.

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