What to Do in Cinque Terre, Italy
As promised in the first post of the blog Introduction to Cinque Terre, I want to share with you the best information that you can find about Cinque Terre.
This weekend I was thinking: what needs has a tourist or a traveler? What he/she wants to visit? Or simply, what are the top things to do in Cinque Terre?
So I believe that the best way to reply to these questions, it could be with a list.
Hiking in among these fantastic towns, in my personal opinion is one the best experience that you can live. The views that you can enjoy along the coastal and internal hiking trails are awesome and the paths allow to exploring Cinque Terre in about 5 hours.
The most famous path is the Sentiero Azzurro, that connects Riomaggiore to Monterosso. That walking trail, as many of you already know, it’s popular for the classic Via dell’Amore (The Way of Love). Unfortunately, as you can read in the article that I’ve provided, is it closed due to several landslides. In the meantime, if you want to visit at least the first part of the Via dell’Amore, from the Manarola train station to the Bar, you can do it.
However, there are other amazing hiking tracks that you can take, and although they’re not so famous like Via dell’Amore, I think they are also beautiful.
Corniglia – Vernazza
For a really nice description about the path Corniglia-Vernazza I suggest reading this interesting article: Hiking in the Cinque Terre: What You Need to Know.
Cinque Terre High Trail
I have also found another fascinating topic: the Hiking Guide to the Cinque Terre, where you can read about the Cinque Terre High Trail, Hiking from Riomaggiore to Manarola (Cinque Terre Hike 1), Hiking from Manarola to Corniglia (Cinque Terre Hike 2), Cinque Terre Sanctuary Trail…
This path is hard to walk, but from there, you can enjoy views like in the picture, that you will take in your memory and heart forever.
Finally, I want to share with you the updates on the path network and the outdoor activities.
Now the second topic that I want to speak about are the beaches in Cinque Terre. In the five villages, you can find different types of beaches (some more little and other biggest like in Monterosso, and also sandy or stony beaches), but in all of that, you can appreciate the crystal blue water.
The most famous and also the biggest beach is in Monterosso, also known as Fegina Beach, where you can find the sandy beach in the picture above. But if you are looking to find peace, quite and views, my advice is to go in little beaches that you can find along the trail paths, or also visit the beach of Vernazza that has a natural pier that is ideal for sunbathing and soaking up the local atmosphere.
Lastly, if you are more adventurous and you have not the problem to take off the clothes, you can visit the Guvano nude beach that is located between Corniglia and Vernazza.
The Guvano Beach
You can reach it through an old railway tunnel. Walk down the Lardarina steps from Corniglia, turn right and walk towards the lonely house there. You will find the tunnel entrance near the house. I am not sure what the current situation is but the last time I was there, it was open. The tunnel is completely dark, so take a good flashlight with you. You’ll be walking in pitch dark for about 20 minutes and at some points you will feel that it’s just an endless tunnel.
Someone even called it a“horror tunnel”. But don’t worry, it will end and you will find yourself on the other side of Corniglia, in a beautiful oasis of olive trees. From here, you can descend to the beach on a steep path. If you are scared in the dark or feel claustrophobic but still would love to see this beach, just rent a boat and get to Guvano from Vernazza.
It’s a “clothing optional” beach so only go there if nude people do not bother you. There are usually not too many people around so you can surely find a peaceful corner for your towel. If you are looking for a secret, wild beach, totally immersed in nature, don’t miss Guvano. One warning though: I was told that sometimes there are weird people around. So don’t go alone as a woman, and don’t take valuables with you. Otherwise, don’t worry, just enjoy this magical place!
To reach the village of Corniglia from the train station you need to take the famous Staircase Lardarina, through its 377 steps, but as in the picture above you can appreciate the nice views and take some pretty photo. Cover it during the summer, suspended between the sea and the village, it is a unique experience.
The Doria Castle in Vernazza
Another nice experience to do in Cinque Terre, it’s by visiting the Doria Castle of Vernazza, and from here you can relish the seascapes. Or also you can take a boat tour and make a picture like the above. The castle, which rises to the top of the promontory dominating the village and the bay, supervises a large portion of the open sea. Irregular in shape, it adheres to the rock on which it was built. The cylindrical tower rises in the middle of a square base.
The first mention of a castle in Vernazza date back to the XIII century, but it is believed that the first defensive core dates back to the XI century. The oldest visible part today is the cylindrical tower restored in the twentieth century that stands in the center of the esplanade on the rocky ridge that dominates the village on one side and the sea below.
The Castle of Riomaggiore
There is also other suggestive and typical place that you must visit: the Castle of Riomaggiore, in Italian known as Castello di Riomaggiore. It’s a historical building created for defense purpose in the XIII century.
You can reach the Castle of Riomaggiore by climbing the steep road from the railway station. Work on this fortification began in 1260 by the Marquis Turcotti, who was the owner of this area at the time. He them sold his property to Niccolò Fieschi who then passed it on to the city of Genoa in 1276. The castle has a square base with the longest sides overlooking the sea. The outer wall has two circular towers with the entrance located between them. A narrow external staircase leads up to the tower where there is a large clock. Over time the castle has been renovated and until few years ago it housed the town cemetery. The castle on a hill divides the two little valleys of Rio Maggiore and Rio Finale and from here you get a panoramic view.
Food & Drink
Oh yeah, one of the most things why in Italy we are famous is for the food & drink 🙂 The Ligury region especially (not only because I’m from here) offers some of the best food you can find in Italy, like pesto sauce, focaccia, farinata, trofie al pesto, anchovies. I can continue with more specialties, but I imagine that now you are hungry 🙂 So if you are curious in the Ligurian Gastronomy, you can read this interesting article about the best food in Liguria and The Cinque Terre and go to eat in some of the restaurants & pizzerias of Cinque Terre.
Now, if is the case that you are a passionate of the Italian or Ligurian Gastronomy you can also go in the nearest zone, like the Gulf of Tigullio (also known as Portofino Coast) and eat some typical plate of the Ligurian Cuisine, or drink a white wine with some tasty fish in the Restaurants of Tigullio.
The distinct aromas of freshly picked basil, just-out-of-the-oven focaccia, and direct-from-the-ocean anchovies entice pedestrians strolling the villages’ narrow, serpentine streets. Ligurian cuisine, as is true of most of its la cucina Italiana regional counterparts, has humble origins and — despite the seaside proximity — a substantial rustic component. Man-made terraces have permitted locals to harvest Cinque Terre’s menacing, seemingly vertical cliffs for centuries, growing olives, lemons, vegetables, herbs such as basil, oregano and marjoram, and more. Rabbits hop the hills undeterred, hence coniglio alla ligure, a Ligurian signature dish made from red wine–braised rabbit with olives and pine nuts.
The Giant of Monterosso
In Monterosso, near to the beach of Fegina you can find the statue of the Giant / Neptune built by the Italian sculptor Arrigo Minerbi (the favorite artist of Gabriele D’Annunzio) and the architect Francesco Levacher.
Previously, the impressive sculpture, with their 14 meters high, stood on the promontory as decoration of the luxurious Villa Pastine (built in the early ‘900). In addition to the trident, Neptune was holding a gigantic shell on his head, that was nothing more than the beautiful house terrace.
Unfortunately, during World War II, Monterosso was bombed by allied forces, and the Neptune statue (along with the villa) suffered serious damage. It was damaged even further by heavy seas in 1966.
The Aurora Tower
The historical Aurora Tower, together to other 2 with less importance, it is the remaining of the 13 towers that they surrounded the village of Monterosso in the century XVI. The sighting and defense tower had cannons to protect against the raids coming from the sea.
The medieval tower it is located in a strategic place, that divides the newest neighborhood of Monteresso from the old part. From here you can also take some beautiful panoramic photo or simply enjoy the beautiful views.
Some of you will get to Cinque Terre by train, cars, other walking in the paths. But my best advice, especially if you love the sea is to coming by boat. From there you can discover the beauty of each village, taking photos of the landscapes, and enjoy the absolute peace and quiet, in a magical atmosphere. In resume, a travel experience that you never forget.
The boats navigate between Monterosso, Portovenere and La Spezia. There are a lot of tours possibility, check the timetables and rates.
We came to the end, and I want to say goodbye citing this beautiful words that describe Punta Mesco and sharing with you a video about Cinque Terre:
In the evening, the sun hides behind Punta Mesco, and the soft blue light that is characteristic of the daylight of Monterosso is dissolved into the fiery red light of sundown. The sky becomes electrified as it illuminates the homes, mountains, fields and roads as well as the souls of the people that are fortunate enough to be there at that precise moment.
Punta Mesco dissolves the day into night but also, acting as the geographic confine, disperses the enchanting territory of the Cinque Terre into the rest of the Ligurian coast. The magnificent cliffs and reefs definitely merit a visit as does a walk up to the famed abandoned light house with its view of the dramatic precipice of rocks overhanging the sea. This is truly a highly emotional experience at sundown.
Greets, Aitor 🙂