Nestled along the coast of North-Western Italy is a vibrant hub of seaside villages better known to the 2.5 million tourists that pass through each year as Cinque Terre (The Five Lands).
Famous for its colourful houses that line the cliffs and unadulterated views of the Ligurian sea, it made for an unforgettable three nights during our recent Italian holiday.
The five towns that make up Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso a Mare. We stayed in the first town, Riomaggiore, and explored the rest of the lands via train.
How we got there:
If you’re staying within one of the five towns, it’s best to get to La Spezia, a port town that acts as the transport hub for Cinque Terre visitors. If you’re coming from Florence, like we were, train travel is an option and tickets can be booked online well before you travel.
We decided at the last minute to ditch the train due to the extreme heat and booked a car transfer. Your hotel will usually organise this for you, however, it’s best to do your research regarding prices first so you don’t get ripped off. Our hotel in Milan did an excellent job of finding us a driver for a reasonable price, but unfortunately we didn’t have the same luck in Florence. So we went ahead and searched online for a private car transfer which ended up being €100 less than what the hotel quoted us. If you’re in Italy and are looking for a private car to take you to and from destinations, try these guys. They spoke English well enough for me to book a car over the phone and were totally hassle-free. The two-and-a-half-hour drive from Florence to La Spezia will cost you around €240 – €280, depending on how far in advance you book.
Once in La Spezia, we caught the train to Riomaggiore, which took less than five minutes.
Monterosso. Wearing: Dolce & Gabbana bodysuit; Revolve shorts; Gucci bag; Ray-Ban sunglasses; Seed scarf.
Where we stayed:
When choosing accommodation, we factored in Cinque Terre’s hilly terrain and aimed to pick a town and hotel that required minimal up-hill struggle with our luggage. After having visited the other towns, I highly recommend Riomaggiore as your base. Manarola is another popular option, but after having gone there for lunch and seeing tourists wheel their bags uphill hundreds of metres in 34 degree heat to get to their accommodation from the train station, I’m so glad we didn’t stay there. Manarola restaurants and shops also seemed to close much earlier than in Riomaggiore – the streets were dead quiet by about 8pm.
Cinque Terre’s hotels are pretty much all Airbnb apartment style. Ours was on the main street of Riomaggiore and was nice and clean for a very affordable price, no surprises it was the cheapest accommodation throughout the trip. Quaint, clean, with WiFi and air-conditioning, I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking to visit. We were there in August’s peak tourist season, so there weren’t many options for accommodation vacant. It’s best to book months ahead if you’re going in Summer. This is the link to the apartment where we stayed.
Visiting the other towns:
The Cinque Terre coastal walk is one of the most famous hikes in the world and allows for taking in the breath-taking views of the ocean. Alternatively, you can catch the train and hop between towns to check out the restaurants and sights that way. The train runs every half hour during the day and once every hour in the evenings and nights. A one-way ticket from one town to another costs €4 for adults.
Photography: Tyler Reisz
Words: Jody Phan
Editing: Jody Phan