On our penultimate day aboard Princess Cruises we docked in Genoa, and took an excursion to the world-famous (and Instagram famous) Cinque Terre. Here are my favourite places to visit in Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre not a town itself, like most assume, but is in fact is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias turn out seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous sauce, pesto.
Cinque Terre consists of five beautiful hillside towns Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We took a tour of the region, and stopped off at both Manarola and Monterosso al Mare.
READ MORE: Make the most of one day in Cinque Terre
Top things to do in Cinque Terre
Here are the best places to visit in Cinque Terre
Manarola may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating from 1338. The local dialect is Manarolese, which is marginally different from the dialects in the nearby area. The name “Manarola” is probably a dialectical evolution of the Latin, “magna rota”. In the Manarolese dialect this was changed to “magna roea” which means “large wheel”, in reference to the mill wheel in the town.
Vernazza is the prettiest of the five villages snuggles in a cleft between rocky cliffs, with colorful houses that seem to be stacked atop each other along its steep, narrow main street. Everything spills into a very pretty little piazza, and below it, little boats bob in the rocky harbor basin when they are not pulled up into the piazza itself. Scenes don’t get much better, nor do places from which to enjoy them. A round tower and a few sections of the old Genoese fortification walls are a reminder of Genoa’s war with Pisa in the 1100s. For the best views, climb the steps to the headland opposite the tower and look back.
Whereas Monterosso al Mare is far more populated and the biggest of the towns with the most amenities. Many hotels are situated in the newer part, Fegina. In the old town you will find seafood restaurants and nice shops. Monterosso has the only long and sandy beach in the area where you can rent chairs and umbrellas or a kayak to explore the many coves around the coast. Whilst in Monterosso al Mare we also had a wonderful lunch at L’Enoteca Internazionale.
The fourth of the towns is called Corniglia, the only one of the Cinque Terre without a harbor, and stands more than 182 meters above the sea. Also unlike the others, visitors arriving by train must climb up instead of descending into the village. At the top of the 300-plus steps (which are terraced and not very steep), the church of San Pietro is on the right. It is a good example of the local Gothic style built in the early 1300s, with a painted interior, a 12th-century baptismal font, and a painted altarpiece.
And last but not least is, Riomaggiore, located at the eastern end of the Cinque Terre, and also the easiest to reach. The town is caught in the narrow cleft between two steep headlands and provides an amazing array of photos for amatuer photographers and Instagrammers alike. If you are driving here from La Spezia, stop at the Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero to savor one of the best land-based views encompassing the whole Cinque Terre coast.
READ MORE: Hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza
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I was onboard Princess Cruises Crown Princess cruise around the Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain to Rome, Italy taking place over 7 Days | 4 Ports of Call. Staterooms start at £849.99. For more cruise deals click here.
This post has been created as part of a sponsored collaboration with Princess Cruises, however as always all views are my own.