Italy Spring 2022 - Cinque Terra


Cinque Terra has been probably written and talked about to death, so I want to keep this pretty short. It is the touristy spot in the Italian Riviera outside of the Amalfi Coast or so I read and I got nervous about just that, people but it was not that bad. Our reasoning for going to Cinque Terra was to explore the five towns and finally, take it easy. We had been mountain biking and on a go-go attitude that it felt nice to actually slow down a bit. Our plan was to hike from town to town, take trains and do what Italians do, hang at the beach.

As I said I'll keep my days short here as photos do more justice but in three days we did visit every town and felt like we were content on our time exploring the area as a whole.

The hiking between the towns was surprisingly steeper and rockier than expected. We felt fine coming from a mountain town and being in our 30s but you could tell that some people were struggling. Well, and to be honest it was humid as hell and we were struggling at points too. The trails between the towns are not just paved sidewalks, they are trails. Which I appreciate. So here we go.


We stayed in Monterosso and was our home base while exploring Cinque Terra. It was definitely the most populated/popular spot in Cinque Terra. What we did like about this as a home base was two things - many restaurants and long stretches of beaches. There is a pay-for-beach and the poor man's free beach. We did the poor man's everyday except for one.

The beaches are not sandy, they are rocky but like little rocks that actually feel good. Also it's not sand so it does not get all up in your cracks if you get what I am saying.

The town is actually broken up into old town and new town. We stayed in new town one night and old the other three. There is a distinct difference between the two areas that are connected by a tunnel cut through the rock. Nothing bad or good to say about either, they are both nice but we did stay in the older part of Monterosso.

Finally to note, there are a lot of good restaurants here but we had our best experience at Restaurant Via Venti. When we went here I was skeptical as it is a big menu. Then the owner (presumably) comes over with the menu and tells you that 2/3 of the menu is unavailable because those items were not caught that day and that these are. Expectations shifted quickly and we ended up having our biggest bill there. Food was unbelievable and you could just taste the care that was taken in each dish.

Overall, great town, very touristy but I thought it was a good choice as a home base for the 4 days we were there.

Day 1: Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazzo, Hiked back

First day in Cinque Terra we decided to go door-to-door hiking to Vernazzo and back. The hike from Vernazzo took about an hour and fifteen minutes on a rocky, steep trail. If the trail were completely devoid of people we probably could of gotten it done in 45 minutes but there were so many people. Not hating but just saying how packed it was. We also made the pretty poor decision to leave around 10:30am or when everyone else was probably finishing up their breakfasts too. Overall though no complaints. Some people got really upset with us when we passed them though even if I gave a courtesy, "Can we please pass?"

The town of Vernazzo was quite lively. Lots of people going into shops, swimming the cove and shooting photos with their phones. To note this was the first place in Italy I felt like I wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb shooting photos. Not that I care but you just did not see photos being taken in Riva Del Garda or Finale Ligure besides the occasional (like rare) selfie. Vernazzo was cool though, if we went back to Cinque Terra I would consider staying there instead of Monterosso to change it up. We ate at a place that overlooked the cove that you can see across the way on the hiking trail, Belforte. Obviously it has a great view but the food was exceptional. We kept it light but the seafood was our somewhat first try eating seafood in Cinque Terra and it's a must. So we basically only ate seafood moving forward.

Day 2: Train from Monterosso to Manarola then hiking to Riomaggiore, Train back

Second day we took a train from Monterosso to Manarola then hiked the steep, humid trail to Riomaggiore. We spent about 30 minutes in the town of Manarola before heading out.

The trail to Riomaggiore like I said was steep. The stairs are definitely not to IBC (International Building Code) regulations! Lots and lots of stairs. Lots and lots of sweat but obviously with all of the steps and vertical gain brought many great views (and also many many steps down). This hike took us about 40 minutes. Not as many people on this stretch even with a 9:00am start. I think going anywhere from Monterosso is going to busy.

Riomaggiore was a cool town, maybe my favorite one for that Cinque Terra vibe. All of the streets are on a decline/incline. From the walkways you could see the entire the entire town. Before taking the train back we stopped for a couple slices of pizza and a beer at a small little shop. Not mentioned anywhere earlier but every town (in Italy in general) has pizza/
focaccia slices and are cheap and amazing. Instead of sitting down for lunch, can't suggest it enough to go this route.

Day 3: Train from Monterosso to Corniglia, Train back
Corniglia's piazza

Last day in Cinque Terra, we were kind of over hiking. So we just took a train to and from Corniglia. Like all of the blog posts you'll read, Corniglia is the only town that does not have a cove/beach/water access and is tucked more into the hillside. Corniglia is small but that is it's charm and it is quite charming at that.

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