Cinque Terre which means "Five lands" is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera between Genoa and La Spezia. The area is part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cinque Terre is a very popular tourist destination and comprises of five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These unique villages hide between green, steep hills and the turquoise Ligurian sea. The villages pastel-coloured houses are built on top of rocks in the rugged, steep landscape. Cinque Terre is located in the coastal region Liguria which is popular with tourists for its beaches, towns and cuisine. Travel between the five villages can be done either by train, by boat or by hiking the beautiful trails that connect the villages.
Monterosso is the first village we meet on our journey through Cinque Terre. This is in my opinion the least exciting of the five villages. Monterosso has several hotels and a long beach with deck-chairs and umbrellas. The center of Monterosso has a nice atmosphere with pastel-coloured houses, artisan shops and many small streets.
Vernazza is simply breathtaking and very popular among tourists. Vernazza was original the only village with a natural harbour so ships departed from here and as a result, Vernazza became the most prosperous village. The first records about Vernazza goes all the way back to 1080. On 25 October 2011, Vernazza was struck by massive flooding, and mudslides that left the town buried in over 4 metres of mud, causing over 100 million euro worth of damage. Today the main source of revenue for Vernazza is tourism. However, as a testimony to the strength of centuries-old tradition, fishing, wine and olive oil production still continue.
Corniglia is the smallest and least crowded of the Cinque Terre villages. The population of the village is about 150. It is located 100 meters above sea level and thus not so easily accessesble from it's train station as the other villages and it doesn't have a harbour, so boats don't stop here. The walk from the train station to the village include climbing the Lardarina stairway with 382 steps. But there is also an easy option: the local electronic buses. Corniglia is characterised by narrow roads and is surrounded on three sides by terraces and vineyards, the fourth side descends steeply to the sea. The history of the village goes back to Roman times. According to the legend, Corniglia was founded by a wine producer, who named the village after his mother, Cornelia.
Manarola – along with Vernazza – is registered among the most beautiful small villages of Italy. Most of the houses are pastel-coloured and many are built on top of the rugged coast. Colours and lights are best here in the evening hours, before sunset. Manarola's primary industries have traditionally been fishing and wine-making. The village is famous for it's sweet Sciacchetrà wine.
Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre and is known for it's historic character and its wine.The village was built in the valley of the Rivus Maior (river), hence the name. The river is now running under the main street. The main street and the railway station are connected by a long pedestrian tunnel with beautiful mosaics. Riomaggiore is like a labyrinth of alleys and steps. The houses are built close to one another, so not much sun enters the back alleys and they are thus nice and cool during the hot summer months. Riomaggiore is divided into two by the railway line. The area by the sea with the colourful little boats (gozzi), small seafood restaurants, rocky beach and where tourists enjoy the mediterranean sun. The upper part is the agricultural village (borgo dei contadini) surrounded by terraces.
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