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View of Vernazza, Cinque TerreLiguria’s Cinque Terre on Italy’s west coast offers a delightful alternative for travelers who prefer olive groves and grape vineyards to the nightclubs and speed boats of the flashier Italian Riviera.  Cinque Terre means “the five lands” and refers to five fortresses which protected the powerful city-state of Genoa from marauding Ottoman Pirates.  Accessible only by sea until the nineteenth century, the remote towns of Vernazza, Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia developed their own traditions, cuisine, and dialects, which are delightfully preserved to this day.

By today’s standards, the Cinque Terre is still relatively remote.  Of the five, only Corniglia allows cars within the city limits.  Electric trains, ferry boats, and the coastal path are the main modes of travel between the cities of the Cinque Terre.  The train hugs the coastline, offering a cost-effective and efficient way to move between the five towns. 

Ferry boats, which leave regularly from the harbor allow for a full appreciation of the vibrantly-colored houses which make up the unique cityscape of the Cinque Terre.  Legend says that local fisherman began to paint their houses in distinctive colors so that they could recognize them when far out to sea. 

But by far the best way to fully enjoy the Cinque Terre is to explore it on foot, along the Sentiero Azzurro, or the Azure Path.  Experienced hikers may wish to attempt the 7-1/2 hour trek in one day, but breaking it up in sections allows for leisurely exploration with plenty of time to descend into the cities for a good meal, a swim in the harbor, or perhaps a precipitous dive from the high rocks.  

The most challenging section of the route is the Monterosso to Vernazza leg, with over six hundred steps carved in to the rocky paths.  The reward for your sweat, however, is priceless: magnificent views and the heady smell of rosemary mingled with the tang of sea air as you ascend through terraced olive groves and vineyards.

The easiest ramble is the romantically-named, Via dell’Amore, or “Way of Love”, from Riomaggiore to Manarola, which is fairly flat and wheelchair accessible. 

Sturdy hiking boots, plenty of sunscreen, and lots of water are the key to enjoying your hiking experience in the Cinque Terre.  And don’t forget to treat yourself to a delectable piece of focaccia, a regional specialty.  When you are walking this much, calories don’t count!

Alexander+Roberts offer numerous options to enjoy Italy including our A Little Tour of Cinque Terre.  Speak to one of our knowledgeable reservation agents who can help you plan your trip.

Posted: 7/15/2015 9:57:28 AM by Alexander + Roberts

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