What are the Cinque Terra?

Brendan McGuigan

The Cinque Terra are five cities in Italy along the coast. In recent years they have become very popular with tourists for a number of reasons. The cities are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

The Cinque Terra are five coastal cities in the Liguria region of Italy in the La Spezia province.
The Cinque Terra are five coastal cities in the Liguria region of Italy in the La Spezia province.

The Cinque Terra are found in Italy, in the Liguria region, in the La Spezia province. They are all within the confines of a national park, which is simply called Cinque Terra. They have also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The coastline of the Cinque Terra spans about 11 miles (18km), with each of the villages built right into the rocky escarpments overlooking the sea.

Cinque Terra are five coastal cities of Italy.
Cinque Terra are five coastal cities of Italy.

Each of the villages of the Cinque Terra are unique in their own right, and each make for a new experience. They are connected by rail to one another, and to the outside world via both Rome and Paris. Because of their relative inaccessibility, there are virtually no cars in any of the Cinque Terra, making them the ideal destination for people who wish to explore on foot. Miles of trails branch out from the villages themselves, winding up over the high sea cliffs and through groves of olive trees, woods of chestnut, fruiting orchards, and lush vineyards.

Hiking between villages is a popular attraction, with paths linking the entire Cinque Terra. Swimming in the Mediterranean is also a popular draw, with isolated little coves and beaches all along the area. Scuba diving can also be found in Riomaggiore, for those who wish to get a bit deeper in the water. Because of the protected nature of the region, doing much of anything, including hiking, requires a permit. These are affordable however, and for those who know they’ll want to do a lot, the Cinque Terre Card is available. The card allows the bearer to make use of the train, the bus, and to hike as much as they want for three days, and costs just over €12 Euros.

Each of the villages of Cinque Terra has its own attractions to offer. Keep in mind, however, that most of what Cinque Terra offers is an unspoiled experience along the Italian coast, not a tourist infrastructure. Monterosso al Mare is particularly known for its sandy beach, which is the only large sandy beach in the Cinque Terra. Vernazza has absolutely no car traffic allowed in the village, and is home to Doria Castle. Corniglia has a particularly breathtaking view of terraces and vineyards which surround it, and is home to the Church of St. Pietro. Manarolo is likely the oldest of the villages in Cinque Terra, and is known for its local wine, known in the region as Sciacchetrá. Riomaggiore is usually the first village people come to when they arrive at Cinque Terra, as it is the southernmost of the villages.

The weather in Cinque Terra is reasonable year-round, but is best from early April to the end of October, where sunny days and balmy nights are the norm. In the past few years, Cinque Terra has gone from being an undiscovered sanctuary to being a rather bustling tourist town. This is at its worst from the end of June through the beginning of September. For a more peaceful experience, it is worth visiting either before June or from late September through October.

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Discussion Comments


There is a train one can catch to all 5 towns. I took the train from Santa Margherita to the north, taking me south to Monterosso, the first of the five towns starting from the northern part, closer to Genoa.

The town is old with narrow streets full of restaurants and souvenir shops.

Ligurian sea is blue and clean, and the views are spectacular.

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