Cinque Terre is definitely one of the most beautiful places we have been so far. The five cities of Cinque Terre could be reached by train, taking 30 minutes to get to the furthest city. Anna and I stayed in Riomaggiore, the largest city and the “capital” city of the area. We got in pretty early the first day which was great because we got to do a lot as Riomaggiore isn’t that big, but also we wanted to see multiple of the five cities. Once we dropped off our bags in the apartment, we set of to walk through the town. Really, the city is one main Street going uphill, lined with restaurants, shops and grocery stores. Additionally, there are side streets that stem off of the main street that go further up hill to apartments, the city school, the castle, and eventually to the top of the town. We walked along the main street, stopping in some of the shops and grocery stores, and continued to take the walk up the side streets (which are basically a bunch of stairs) to the castle as well. The castle is almost on the edge of the hill and has a beautiful place where you can sit on the edge and look over the water and at the marina below.
After making our way down, we couldn’t resist not trying a seafood cone. We shared a large cone filled with mixed calamari, battered cod, and crab puffs. The seafood was so fresh and definitely one of my favorite things about the area. After eating, we went to the marina and rented a kayak so we could take in the sights from another point of view. We rowed along the coast line, passing swimmers at the rocky beach, and going into a small cave, just large enough for a kayak to fit into. The water was cool and a bright, almost unreal, turquoise color. After kayaking we got gelato, and made our way to the beach. Unlike most beaches, this beach was made of rocks. In a sense, it reminds me of Lake Superior where the beaches are full of rocks and pebbles, though these were much larger. This unfortunately made it a little tricky to get out without falling as we found out. As we made our way out to the deeper parts of the water, we found that a lot of the rocks were covered in algae and we’re extremely slippery! I know I definitely provided a few minutes long of beach entertainment as I slipped and tripped my way past the shallow areas to where I could swim without touching the rocks below. The beach was perfect for a hot day. That water was cool and some of the rocks were perfectly flat for sitting and taking in some sun – and we definitely got our fair share of sun that afternoon.
After swimming and laying out on the rocks, we cleaned up and showered, and then went to find a place to eat. We settled on a restaurant along the main road where we shared a bottle of local white sparkling wine, and at gnocchi and pasta with pesto. After dinner we walked around a little and then settled up on the hill overlooking the water for a while to look out into the ocean.
The next morning we got up nice and early so we could see another one of the 5 cities (somehow we made it to all 5…technically). We had settled on Monterroso, the furthest of the 5 cities, and the only one that has a real “beach.” Once we got to Monterroso, we got pastries and coffee at a local cafe and then settled on the beach. The beach here is definitely almost all along the coastline, and it’s lined with umbrellas and beach chairs. We settled on the beach which was not sandy, but rocky, though the rocks were more like very very small pieces of rock makes then still comfortable to walk and lay on. We spent a few hours hanging out and listening to music and podcasts before getting up and walking through the city.
Since the cities were very close together and easily accessible by train, we decided to try and hit the other three before we went back to Riomaggiore. We had some fruit salads (only the second time we’ve had fruit all trip) and sat by the water and then decided to head to the next city, Vernazza. While Monterroso was more of a beach town, Vernazza was like a smaller Riomaggiore, a main road filled with shops and restaurants , and an area for swimming and small boats. We decided to eat lunch here and Anna settled on a salad, while I tried Arancini (basically a rice mixture, similar to risotto, formed into a ball, breaded and deep fried). We sat by the water and watched kids and families playing and swimming and after eating we moved on to the next town, Corniglia.
Corniglia, perched on a hill, was not a great stop for us. We were tired and definitely did not want to walk up stairs all the way up a hill. So, while we technically were in Corniglia, we got off the train, walked about 5 minutes and then walked back to the train station to hit the last city before Riomaggiore, Manerola. Manerola was more similar to Vernazza and Riomaggiore, but again, smaller. We walked up and down the Main Street before heading back to Riomaggiore for gelato after a long and hot day (we LOVE gelato)!
After sitting on the side of the long rocky cliff for a while, we cleaned up before getting a pizza to-go, and one more seafood cone to take back to the rocks to eat for dinner while we watched the water. We were in the perfect spot to watch the sun set behind the 5 towns, and it was absolutely beautiful and calming. The best and my favorite pictures of our 2 and a half days we’re taken at that moment.
Following the sunset, we went to a little cafe for coffee and dessert (yes, we know we already had gelato, but we don’t care) and to steal some wifi from the cafe across the street. We talked about the trip so far, eating tiramisu and sipping on our coffees, amazed at how we were already halfway done with our adventure. We still can’t believe we only have 2 more countries to go! We hit 5 countries in 2 weeks, which was definitely exciting, but we’re excited to take our time a little over the next 12 days. After a nice long night sleep that was much needed (the wonderful pro of not having internet at night), we got up and made our way to the train station to continue our European trek.
Cinque Terre Highlights
- The beach at Monterroso
- All the seafood you can eat
- The scenic views of the water (best in Riomaggiore we felt)
- Kayaking in the ocean
- Were definitely tired, but we’re not slowing down by any means!
- We’re definitely still in need of pedicures, and maybe some massages too. The backpacks are definitely not good on the back.
- While we’ve been walking a ton, that did not prepare our bodies for the beach
- We are in need of some fruit and veggies for both personal enjoyment and other reasons
- My birkenstocks are very close to having the heels completely run down and will probably have holes in them by the time we return. I am heartbroken.
Next stop: Rome