Cinque Terre. The five lands. The five remote villages. Or at least they were, once upon a time. A brief history lesson about the beautiful seaside, paradise is: these five quaint villages were once only accessible by sea. With the once dangerous mountain terrain, no one was able to scale the mountain to venture into the villages. The sea was the route one had to take to reach the people occupying the oasis in the sky. The people of Cinque Terre are very tight knit, and have family connections dating back generations. So, everyone knows everyone. Which isn’t hard when there is only about several thousand people occupying the mountain region.
I had the pleasure of visiting three of the picturesque villages, twice, on a Smart Trip. The long bus ride from Florence to Cinque Terre is definitely worth it. Once you get to the Ligurian Coast, everything looks like something out of a movie. The Province of La Spezia is where Cinqu Terre is housed, and the mountains in the region are some of the most beautiful pieces of landscape I’ve ever witnessed. The terraces carved into the sides of the mountains were perfect details for pictures.
The first stop, I’d suggest when going to this seaside paradise, is Manarola. This is where you would walk through the historic town and head to the sea. Everything is open and airy, but you have to prepare for steep inclines. When making your way to the sea, there are various restaurants selling crepes, gelato, and seafood. Once you walk down to main street, you’ll be met with a beautiful view of the ocean. This is where you’ll walk out to the lookout point and take the Instagram-worthy pictures. After taking pictures until your heart is happy, I’d suggest catching the next train to Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is literally a little town with ONE road going through the entirety of the town. But, this is location of delicious-looking fruit and top-notch pizza. I had the pleasure of trying the pesto pizza, and I can say it was one of the best things I ate in the country. Riomaggiore is also where you can scratch the souvenir shopping itch. You can find anything in the shops… you have a chance of seeing fake Gucci sunglasses (like I did). After you’ve shopped until you had to question your purchases, you can hop on the next train to Monterosso.
Monterosso is where you will be able to swim in the Ligurian Sea and eat amazing street food. Once you leave the train station, you’re already on the beach… well close to it anyway. You can stop buy one of the seaside cafes to grab a cold drink; or, one of the panini shops to grab a bite to eat. If you like seafood, you can also go to the street food seafood restaurant. I’d recommend wearing some sort of water shoes when going down to the beach. If, you’re from Florida, then you’re used to the sandy beaches. But, this beach in Monterosso, had little rocks instead of sand. Due to the temperature, the rocks were extremely hot. So, make a mad dash for the water, if you don’t have water shoes. Also, I’d recommend renting chairs in the private sections of the beach, because these are the only parts of the beach the people selling stuff can’t go.
All in all, Cinque Terre is that place that you see pictures of, but never know the name. For instance, I used to have pictures of Cinque Terre as my wallpaper before I knew what and/or where Cinque Terre was. Now, I can’t imagine not knowing what it feels like to tip toe across hot rocks and swimming in such beautiful water. It’s definitely worth the visit.