After two weeks of working as a tutor at an English Summer camp I was in desperate need of some well-deserved rest and recuperation. What better way to drown out the cries of the Italian bambinos than a trip to the Cinque Terre? I first heard of the Cinque Terre from a lady from New Zealand whilst staying in a hostel in Florence in 2009. She spoke so highly of its beauty that I vowed that one day I would visit there to experience its magic for myself.
Located on the Italian Riviera, The Cinque Terre has world heritage status owing to its sheer natural beauty. The Cinque Terre or ‘Five Lands’ as it translates into English is made up of five picturesque villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The five lands are connected by a local train service as well as by a series of over cliff pathways and walkways making it an ideal destination for hikers.
Each one of the villages has its own unique charm but my boyfriend and I were lucky enough to stay in Vernazza, the only village in the Cinque Terre with its own working harbour. The beautiful harbour at Vernazza is surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, quaint artesian shops and of course gelato (ice cream) shops galore. Our accommodation was basic but we couldn’t argue with the stunning location and low price as accommodation in the Cinque Terre is high in demand, particularly in the summer months when prices soar sky high.
If you’re a foodie like me then the Cinque Terre has plenty to satisfy your palette. Seafood is a typical part of Ligurian cuisine and Liguria is also renowned for its scrumptious pesto dishes. On our first night we had dinner at Vernazza’s’ ‘La Torre.’ It was quite a climb to reach the restaurant but completely worth it because of the breath taking views over the town. The delicious bruschetta and peach bellinis there come highly recommended!
If you’re looking for a holiday filled with sunbathing on sandy beaches then the Cinque Terre is perhaps not for you. The majority of beaches in the Cinque Terre are rocky beaches and part of the Cinque Terre’s charm is in its ruggedness and lack of corporate development which taints so many other destinations. The locals enjoy a relaxed pace of life such as sitting back with a coffee or a gelato and watching the world go by. If you want to explore further afield you can also take daytrips to other places on the Ligurian coast such as the stunning Lerici (The Poet’s Gulf) or the affluent Porto Venere.
The Cinque Terre is truly a taste of paradise and I don’t think that anyone could fail to be magnetised by its immense natural beauty. When I have mentioned the Cinque Terre to fellow Brits I am generally greeted with a blank expression. I encountered American tourists aplenty whilst visiting the Cinque Terre but British people were seemingly few and far between. I hope that after reading this (and seeing the photos); more Brits will consider making the Cinque Terre their next holiday destination as I can assure you that you will not regret it!