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Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
Vernazza, © Pier Paolo Sposato - Fotolia.com

Cinque Terre is a series of 5 small villages perched on steep hills along the Italian Riviera.  The five villages are:

  • Monterosso al Mare

  • Vernazza

  • Manarola

  • Riomaggiore

  • Corniglia

Cinque Terre is popular with French and Italian's for its distinctive villages and for hiking on the trails between them.  The area is becoming well known with other nations too, but it is not as accessible as the better known tourist destinations and that keeps the volume of visitors down somewhat. 


Cinque Terre is a summer tourist destination.  Average temperatures peak in July and August at 86 F (30 C), while lows are about 66 F (19 C).  From December to February average highs are 54 F (12 C) and average lows are 37 F (3 C).  The rainy season extends from September to December.  July has the best weather, but June may be a better time to visit to avoid the peak tourist period of July and August.


There is no major airport or road servicing Cinque Terre.  Access is all about the train.  Despite Cinque Terre's isolation and rugged coast line, the train service is frequent and an engineering feat.  Instead of following the cliff edges, the train repeatedly burrows through the mountain sides.  It emerges from tunnels to drop passengers at the isolated villages.  From the south, trains come up from Pisa through La Spezia.  It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Riomaggiore from Pisa.  La Spezia is only 10 minutes south of Riomaggiore.  From the north, trains from Genoa take about 2 hours to reach Monterosso al Mare.  It takes about 20 minutes by train to cover the entire length of the 5 villages.  Refer to the Bahn.de web site for train schedules.  Consorzio Marittimo Turistico 5 Terre-Golfo dei Poeti operates seasonal ferry service between the villages and also to various other towns along the coast, such Portofino.

Manarola, CinqueTerre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Attractions in Cinque Terre:

Things to see and do:

  • Visit each of the 5 main villages on the Cinque Terre coast line by train or by walking.  Hike the Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail) that connects the five villages.  Some sections require a small fee.  Sections may be closed to due to landslides caused by erosion after rainfalls.  Don't miss the popular Lover's Walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola.  There is a small fee to walk its coastline pathway.  Padlocks are locked together all along the trail, as a symbol of binding love.

  • Have dinner at one of the quaint restaurants.

  • Find local specialty foods for sale in the street front shops.

Vernazza, CinqueTerre, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Tours:

Hotels in Cinque Terre:

Booking.com Hotel Listings for Cinque Terre:

View Cinque Terre map

Cinque Terre Visit with Tim Anderson
We picked up our bags at Gli Arlecchini in Pisa and caught the reserved train to La Spetzia.  The next train was unreserved seating that stopped at all the Cinque Terre towns.  I thought this would be a slow train twisting along the mountainous coast, but it was a fast train that spent most of its time in tunnels. So, there weren't many views.  Our stop at Vernazza was a shock.  The nearly full train emptied and the people filled the one main street with little room to move.  Not what we expected at all from the quaint little town.  It was over run, apparently by a holiday weekend.  The Francamaria accommodation was great, with a view of the town square, the bell tower and the bay.  We immediately headed back on the train to Riomaggiore and then took the Lover's Walk to Manarola.  This too was crowded with people.  There was seldom a break in the continuous string of walkers.  At Manarola we picked a restaurant to eat at.  We chose the one with Rick Steves pictured with the owner instead of the one recommended by Rick Steves' across the path.  This was a remarkable and inexpensive meal.  We had tofu pesto, tuna capriccio and spaghetti with meat sauce.  All three of us raved about our meals.  The waiter also scolded us that we should not tip for meals in Italy.  There is separate pricing for seating and no tips.  We then took the train back to Vernazza, hiked around town a bit and all fell asleep early.

Lovers Walk, CinqueTerre, Italy

Lovers Walk, Cinque Terre

In the morning it was raining and we determined that we needed to leave right away if we hoped to see Monterosso al Mare.  We retrieved my passport by paying the bill (cash only) and arrived in Monterosso with a 2 hour window.  We found little to do in the rain. We spent our time at a quaint cafe with the balcony right on the oceanfront.  We listened to the rain drops, ate brioche crema and drank cafe latte.  The lattes were amazing.  My addiction to European lattes and pastry was already well established.  A thoroughly enjoyable morning in tune with the Italian spirit that dictates you move slowly and only when completely ready to do so.

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