Do you live for scenic adventures?, Do you call yourself a foodie?, Do you love colour and architecture? Then I have found your haven .
Cinque Terre (5 lands as it translates too) has become one of the top destinations to visit in Europe, from having everything you could need, beaches, mouth watering food, and the cutest little streets to explore to the most relaxing and scenic train ride this side of Italy! Here is my side of this protected National Park and what I got up to in my 4 days stay in
We stayed here for the 4 days while we explored the Cinque Terre region, Liguria. For explorers on a budget this was a more cost effective option that the famous 5 locations, and only a short train ride (15 minutes) through the mountain to the 5 main stops along the famous strip! A walk around this little town, wont take long, it has beautiful houses, tree lined streets, and small squares filled with restaurants, for the ones who want a quiet and more local experience Lavanto is perfect, but wont compare to the towns your about to visit (sorry)
Montemarnesse le Marte
First stop is the longest of the 5, famous for its white sandy beaches, blue painted buildings, its romantic nightlife, and the little surprise of a second half of the town through a tunnel and short walk from the station. Straight walk off the train is the promenade which runs the whole stretch of the beach. Filled with friends having food, children climbing the rocks, and families relaxing on the deck chairs put out by the hotels which run all the way along the main street Via Fegina which is the main road which people road tripping though the Cinque Terre would take along the coast line.
Relaxing on the beach was great for the final stop of the day, but the best part was the hidden second half of this town, through a tunnelled pathway on the other side of the mountain you walk though, you will find a busy, much more low key side of Monterosso el Mare… Its cobbled streets full of business owners greeting you with no other intentions but to be friendly, and narrow streets trapping the smells of fresh fish and cooked pasta. We were drawn into a small little restaurant called Da Elerado and it was the best decision we ever made, the famous pesto lasagne for a Appetiser, melted in your mouth. The prawn linguine, with the freshest prawns I have ever tasted (even if it does freak me out when they still have their head). The people are friendly and helpful, and the chefs you can see tossing pizza in the open kitchen singing along to the radio just gives you this warm feeling inside.
The second and busiest stop, that’s because the place is a perfect balance of food and views, sea and snacks, architecture and arancini (that involved a lot of food)… Its true, the small food stalls and bars down to the main harbour means you spend all your money before even getting there. The arancini balls from Bitti Bitti Frigattoria are a must (I had some at 10.30 in the morning no regrets!)… Once you’ve eaten the first of several snacks in this town, you start to look up and around and appreciate how cute the main street is, lace shops, hand painted bowls, all the way to the harbour. Full of brightly coloured boats, coming in and out with fresh fish caught just off the coast, and rows of sea food restaurants, you start to fill hungry all over again!
THE CLIMB!! That is all you need to know, over 500 steps from the train station to the top of the hill where the smallest of these towns sits, after a 10 minute icecream stop at Alberto Gelateria (try the chocolate orange) just to get over the journey to the top, and seeing the bus we could of got to the top rock up… I was ready to explore. The back streets are full of hand crafted clothing, gifts and being one of the highest of the Cinque Terre cluster the views across the olive tree farms. Looking out to see past the hill side buildings is worth the whole sweaty climb 🙂 This also has a walk which takes you back to Vernazza for them days when you don’t want to walk back down, or be on a sweaty train only takes about an hour, and is much quieter a commute
My Favourite of the 5 (I think I keep changing my mind), due to its bold statement colours and winding streets…Its also one of the most photographed of them all, the cute uneven buildings, the tiny harbour, the locals just getting on with their everyday life, but most of all the clear blue sea where waves go right into the small harbour welcomed in with the eyes of all the house which embrace it. Its like a worse hidden secret, busy with tourists taking pictures all round the picturesque town.
The best part were the views from the top of the town, seeing the lego blocks of houses, all with there green freshly painted shutters. Noseying around the plant filled roof terraces scattered around with locals going about there own business. Walking higher up the stone stairs to this view, you came across door ways with plants and brightly painted door frames, street art everywhere possible, and better views every time you stepped up. The shops here are a little more boutique so bring your purse for the special outfit treat
The most photographed views of Cinque Terre and supposedly one of the oldest of the towns. Its fairytale like blocks of buildings all looking over you as you walk down to the harbour from the station, the beautifully decorated little shops selling embroidered towels, fabrics and postcards. We spent a while here watching the sun go down on top of the cliff, the Nessun Dorma Bar and Restaurant is perfect for this able to see the whole of the Harbour with its tiered buildings which become a magical fairy lit romantic place when the sun has finally set
The hidden Gem – Portevenere
Not actually part of the CinqueTerre , but we had some free time after 3 days of exploring the Famous 5, so went on a little train to La Spezia (30 mins) and then bus trip (40 mins ) to PorteVenere. Okay so its a little long winded, but another option is to drive which would only take 40 minutes in all from the Cinque Terre. We loved seeing the views along the coast, going in and out of other little towns along the way.
No expectations of what we would see or be able to do, we were blown away by the beauty of the little hidden gem. Windows covered in pasta penne for decorations, fresh pesto being sold out another along the main street of Via Cappelini. As you walk up you start to see the Castello Doria up on the top of the hill, with its crumbling window arches, amazing views of the rugged cliffs, and the church on the very edge of the castle cliff. A must see when you head to Portovenere for the views alone.
After all the exploring we headed down to the sea front where there are rows or narrow but painted buildings, full of shops, restaurants with apartments above .The harbour making the water glisten with the sun out in full force which made this place look even more amazing! We relaxed dipping our feet into the clear water, and trying hard not to cover myself in melting salted caramel Gelato! The bus came every half hour back to La Spezia so make sure you plan when you would need to leave before the last bus at the day around 5pm in summer. We left not really wanting to leave but with a lot of fond memories of this relaxed
Overall, the Cinque Terre was above the expectations I already had for these small in size, but big in reputation towns. My only regret is not eating more Arancini balls and Gelato :)… So enjoy, explore and eat!