Keen to visit Liguria and the italian riviera to discover a different side of Italy? Find out about the best places to stay in the Cinque Terre!
A vast strip of land wrapped around the Mediterranean coast of north-western Italy, Liguria is a famous region close to the French border, with Genoa as its capital. West of the city of La Spezia, along the Riviera di Ponente (Coast of the Setting Sun), runs a 130-kilometre strip home to a myriad of bays, coves and historic villages perched atop cliffs: the Cinque Terre. Listed a UNESCO World Heritage since 1997, the Cinque Terre are a group of five century-old villages – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – set on a rugged and steep coastline.
To stay in the Cinque Terre, you will have to make a difficult choice between the five villages. Indeed, each village has its own soul, its own atmosphere, its own landscape and offers a unique panorama. Here are the villages (or neighbourhoods) to stay in Cinque Terre.
Monterosso al Mare
Photo credit: Flickr – PnP!
Monterosso is the westernmost village of the Cinque Terre and also the largest village in the area, with 1521 inhabitants. It is made up of a maze of narrow medieval streets and is home to numerous case-torri (tower-houses) and old defensive towers from the 16th century (notably the Aurora and San Giovanni towers). It is in many ways an open-air vestige of feudal and Renaissance architecture. A rocky strip crashing into the sea splits the village in two and forms a kind of porous border between the historic centre and the “modern” village, the Fégina quarter. If you choose to stay in Monterosso, you will enjoy the largest beach of the Cinque Terre and majestic views of the steep coast and the four other villages.
Photo credit: Flickr – Ștefan Jurcă
Stay in Vernazza to embark on a journey through time. Vernazza is the most picturesque village of 945 inhabitants in the Cinque Terre. It is reminiscent of Liguria’s rich economic and cultural past. Perched on a rocky outcrop to the east of Monterosso, it houses remains of medieval times, including the castle of the Doria family, a small port, and the Parish Church of Santa Margherita of Antioch overlooking the sea. Founded by the Vulnetia, an ancient wealthy Roman family, it was the most prosperous village of the Cinque Terre. Accommodation in Vernazza can be expensive because it is one of the Cinque Terre’s most coveted tourist attractions.
Photo credit: Flickr – Ryan-o
A village of 245 inhabitants perched on a rocky promontory, Corniglia was founded by the Roman family of Cornelia. It can be reached via the railroad which runs below the village or via the lardarina, a winding path of 377 steps. A great choice for hikers and walkers, Corniglia is the only village in the Cinque Terre that does not have its feet in the water. The village is well-known for its grapevine, cultivated in the terraces on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. Corniglia is an essential stopover point and a great place to stay in the Cinque Terre.
Photo credit: Flickr – Bert Kaufmann
The smallest and oldest village in the Cinque Terre, Manarola is the penultimate easternmost village in the region. It is said to take its name from Manium Arula, meaning in Latin “altar to worship the Mani”, the latter being the gods of home and family in Roman mythology. If you enjoy hiking, take the “dell’amore” path from Manarola to Riomaggiore.
Photo credit: Flickr – Erin Johnson
Riomaggiore is an ancient fishing village: populated by 1693 inhabitants, it exudes an authentic and picturesque atmosphere. Founded in the 8th century, it boasts a typical and colourful architecture adorned in red, yellow, and ochre hues. The buildings in the historic centre date back to the 13th century. Be sure to stay in Riomaggiore, your last stop before visiting La Spezia.
To help you find your way around Cinque Terre, here is a map of the five villages in the Cinque Terre :
Main photo credit : Flickr – Bastien M