How to get there
If you keep to the coast, transport in Liguria is straightforward. The A10-E80 motorway, becoming the A12-E80 at Genoa and a mainline railway hug the shore from the French border to Tuscany. Access to inland Liguria is more difficult due to the mountains. Bus services link many of the coastal towns with the prettiest hill villages.
Through constant collective work over the centuries, man has managed to create this landscape, the only one of its kind in the world, safely kept inside a treasure chest between Punta Mesco and Punta Monte Nero. This little corner of Liguria is where generations have worked to create this monument in landscape architecture represented by the steep terraces sloping down to the sea. These terraces are held up by over 7000 km of dry stone walling, cleverly built without cement and cultivated with vineyards that reach down to almost touch the sea waves.
Cinque Terre, recognised by UNESCO Mankind's World Heritage, is today a national park and protected marine area, with the aim of protecting this great cultural heritage.
What to see
In medieval times, the name "terra" meant village. From this origin comes the name Cinque Terre. Coming from Genoa, after passing Levanto, the first village is Monterosso al Mare, the only one with a large beach and promenade connecting its historical centre to the new quarter. Here you can visit the medieval Torre Aurora which divides the old part of the town from the new part, and the Van Dyck crucifix in the San Francesco church. Vernazza, located at the mouth of a river, is naturally protected from the threat of the sea by a rocky promontory. Corniglia, the only village not on the sea, but found nestling on a hill surrounded by vineyards, has its own special appeal. Manarola and Riomaggiore, clinging to the rock face, with their houses piled up in a multi-coloured mosaic overlooking the sea, are the most typical and unspoilt of the five.
What to do
The best way to discover, understand and enjoy Cinque Terre is to visit it on foot. Walk along the paths and climb the centuries old flights of steps, which up to a short while ago were the only communication routes between the five villages, and you enter the magic of this landscape and its panorama suspended between sky and sea. The most famous path of Cinque Terre is the "Via dell'Amore", connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore. In summer, sunbathers mix with fishermen. Between Vernazza and Corniglia there is the romantic beach of Guvano, to be reached on foot. A larger sandy beach with facilities can be found only at Monterosso al Mare. Otherwise the high cliffs reaching down into the cobalt blue depths of the sea hide tiny beaches at Riomaggiore and Vernazza.
What to eat
Cinque Terre, apart from its characteristic landscape, is also famous for the DOC wines produced here. The terraced vineyards offer a dry white and Sciacchetrà, a rare precious raisin wine.
The cuisine of these places is based on old recipes, handed down through generations and the herbs, which grow wild, enhance the flavours. It is possible to taste pies made with rice and vegetables. Undoubtedly, the sea plays the main role at the table, with a wide choice of fresch fish.