Today we’re in a place that is or should be on every traveler’s bucket list. This is a place where colorful homes cling to the cliffside and where rocky outcrops plunge into the sea. Come along with me and explore Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre is comprised of five charming villages set along a rugged stretch of the Italian Riviera. Collectively, the villages and the coastline make up Cinque Terre National Park, a place so unique that it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The first of the villages that we’ll visit is Manarola. In the past, the primary industries in Manarola were fishing and wine production, but today it’s the tourist trade that makes tiny Manarola a bustling attraction.
The locals speak a dialect known as Manarolese, but you’ll still be understood when you greet the friendly folks of this town with a hearty Italian bonjourno.
At the San Lorenzo church, one of the key attractions in Manarola, a cornerstone in the facade dates back to the 14th century, suggesting that Manarola was already well established here on the Italian coast more than 700 years ago. One aspect of Manarola that I know you’ll enjoy, the colorful houses that cling to the hillside cliffs overlooking the sea.
Our next stop is Vernazza. You won’t find cars in this small village, and in many ways Vernazza remains the truest of all the villages in Cinque Terre to its tradition of being a fishing village.
Records indicate that Vernazza started as a fortified town about 1000 year ago. It’s said that back then Vernazza was a maritime base for the powerful Republic of Genoa as its military set out to conquer the region of Liguria.
Our last stop is Monterosso al Mare. There’s a gorgeous beach here in the largest of the villages in the Cinque Terre region. In fact, it’s the only sandy beach of significance in Cinque Terre.
Though Monterosso is a small town it was excluded from the Cinque Terre trail in 1948. Officials thought it was too large of a village to be part of the historic trail characterized by small charming villages. Monterosso was reinstated and put back on the trail a year later, however. Today Monterosso thrives as a tourist destination thanks to connections by train to other regions in Italy.
Cinque Terre will leave you with lasting impressions. If you’re anything like me your memories of will be colorful houses, narrow pedestrian-only streets and charming cafes, fishing boats and homes set on rugged cliffs.
Cinque Terre is a special place one that you’ll not want to miss – or one that you could find yourself returning to time and again.
I’m Ralph Grizzle, and I’ll see you in the next beautiful destination.