Today I want to continue writing about places in Italy that I will visit on my next trip, which is coming up pretty soon. Cinque Terre is one area that we will visit, and we will stay there for a few days.
Cinque Terre is unique, in that the area is comprised of 5 villages that hug the Ligurian Coast. These villages are isolated from the main body of Italy by rugged mountains at their back and the sea in front of them. For centuries, the primary commerce of this area has been fishing and that continues. Now there are also vineyards planted on the steep terraces. Lemon trees grow wherever they can gain a foothold.
That little red line on the western edge of Italy denotes the location of Le Cinque Terre.
The villages, as viewed from the sea, look like colorful toy buildings that have been super-glued to the mountainsides. Corniglia, the middle village of the five, sits on a steep mountain. It is the only one of the villages that does not have direct access to the sea.
To get to the Cinque Terre, one takes a train to La Spezia, then change trains to a regional one that will stop at each of the small stations. The trip from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, the first of the little towns, takes about 4 minutes. The next stop, Manarola, is another 2 to 3 minutes, then Corniglia station is another few minutes; likewise, Vernazza then the last of the villages, Monterosso, takes 3 minutes from Vernazza. So, you can see, if you travel by train, the villages are very close to each other. However, many tourists come to the area to hike the trails that connect these towns.
There are two main trail systems here: the “Short Trail”, the one most familiar to hikers, follows the coastline for most of the hike; although the trail is usually high above the sea, the hiker has a scenic view from start to finish.
The second trail, the “High Trail”, runs above the towns, but the view from that high up is fantastic. That trail is longer, but as of this moment, that trail is open, while the Short Trail is only open from Vernazza to Monterosso, and possibly Vernazza to Corniglia. That depends on the weather and landslide conditions. The Short Trail has had sections closed since 2012, due to landslides, with no time frame in sight for getting them open again. That is sad, for those trails were such a remarkable adventure, and could be done from start to finish in a few hours.
In the past, for centuries, the only way to go from one village to another was by the trails, which were steep and not well-maintained. Therefore, when a tunnel was carved through the mountain that connected Riomaggiore and Manarola, the villagers could then visit with each other. More importantly, to some, the young people could form friendships and romances with young people from the other village. The path through the tunnel became known as the Via dell’ Amore, the “Road of Love”.
This is the famous metal sculpture within the tunnel of the Via dell’ Amore. Note the padlocks on the railings. Supposedly, lovers would put the lock on the railing, then throw the key into the sea. That meant their love would last as long as the padlocks stayed on the railing. However, I noted that some of the locks were combination-type locks. What does that mean?
This part of the trail is now in a section that is closed, due to landslides. I hope it will soon be repaired and open again.
Monterosso has the best beach area of all the villages. I love to come here, rent a chair and an umbrella for the day, and just hang out at the beach. The water is clear, and warm enough to enjoy a swim.
This area, Le Cinque Terre, is one of the most popular areas of Italy for tourists to visit. It has become quite crowded during the summer season, but I still like to be there. As I usually stay a few days, I find places to go that are quiet, when the main piazze are filled.
The older area of Monterosso is one place that I have found that is more peaceful.
I hope you have enjoyed my little travelogue about Cinque Terre. Put this area on you Bucket List to visit when you go to Italy.
Ciao for now,