Italy is commonly known for its beautiful cities – particularly Rome, Venice, and Florence. But there is another land, just west of La Speiza, hidden in the Italian Rivera; an area in Italy not to miss. The Cinque Terre, or “The Five Lands” is made up of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare, All are full of life, culture, and beauty. Hiking trails, paths, boats, and trains connect these five Italian villages, which bring tourists into a world where they can feel taken back into an old Italian culture.
Brightly colored homes, hidden paths along streams and vineyards, and small local shops along the Italian coastline make for a relaxing, beautiful escape from reality. One could get lost in the quiet village of Corniglia, full of small cobblestone alleyways, friendly faces, and shops filled with hand painted ceramics. Walking through the maze of small streets to the city center, I couldn’t help but feel as if I had gone back in time to an older Italy. Leaving Cornigilia, via the trail known as “Sentiero Azzuro,” I was challenged to coastline trails winding in and out of changing terrains. After stopping for pictures in a few locations to capture the beautiful scenery, I arrived at Vernazza. I was stunned to see a town filled with restaurants along a mini boat-filled port, fresh seafood, wines, and a small waterfall emptying into the sea. Beach bums flock to rest on the rocks at the waterfall, in hopes of getting a beautiful Italian tan. Colorfully painted boats float on their buoys, leaving a picturesque setting as the sun shines brightly on the ocean. After finding the trail hidden between some shops to continue on the journey, a more difficult terrain left me exhausted and lost in an exhilarating trek. Ocean views high in the hills, rivers to cross, and waterfalls to soak in took me to the village of Monterosso al Mare. Here I found a larger village with several lounge chairs, volleyball nets, and bocce ball. The abundance of gelato and fresh seafood still leaves my mouth watering for the village of Monterosso al Mare. Friendly locals greeted me as I walked down the road to the village, high up on a hill. This was a great place to grab a bite, sit out in the sand, or take a dip in the ocean. Carrying on to Riomaggiore, I came to a larger village where I grabbed a treat to sit amongst cobblestone steps and people watch. Sweet couples, fishermen, and children filled the small streets of Riomaggiore. In just that short time, I felt very accustomed to the villages of Cinque Terre.
Whether you take a boat, train, or walk the trails to the villages, you will gain a deeper respect for the Italian culture when visiting Cinque Terre. Walking trails let you witness the locals’ way of living. By exploring trails behind small homes and crops, I was challenged with jumps over streams and ducking beneath fallen trees. Seeing the colorful homes in the distance on the way to the next village left me awestruck and curious about this quaint way of living. Cinque Terre is a beautiful and remarkable escape, a place everyone should see in his or her lifetime.
By: Jillian Peterson, Forum-Nexus alumnae