What to SEE and to DO in CINQUE TERRE en Liguria (Italy)

We would like to bring you with us in Cinque Terre, one of the most popular tourist spots here in Italy. If you have never been to the Cinque Terre, or in case you wanted to know more about these beautiful places, stay tuned!

What to DO & SEE in Cinque Terre

What are the Cinque Terre and where are they located?

The so-called “Cinque Terre” consists of a bewitching 18-km-long jagged stretch of the Riviera ligure di Levante coastline.

Thanks to the unique diversity of the landscape, the Cinque Terre has become one of the most popular tourist destinations of the last years: above the crystal clear sea, a range of mountains stands parallel to the coastline, with amazing beaches to meet the needs of the most discerning visitors. In fact, there are different types of beaches: sandy ones for people who want to relax by making a nice sand castle and pebble ones for those who don’t like having sand between their toes or in their swimming suits. The blue colour of the sea creates a strong contrast with the green vineyards and herbs like rosemary, thyme, helichrysum and lavender.

Pills of history…

The story of this place is quite interesting, the earliest animal fossils are from the Palaeolithic period. In the caves Grotte dei colombi, located on the Palmaria island, remains of sepulchres were found as evidence that this location was already inhabited in the prehistoric age. Also, from other objects like axes it can be assumed that these populations were good at hunting, favoured by the presence of abundant game. Some other particularly relevant historical traces were found near Campiglia Tramonti, that is megaliths that are possibly precursors of the stele statues/menhir or, according to a few scholars, associated with the calendar.

The names of some of the villages derive from Latin, due to the Roman conquest of the territory, although there is no hard evidence yet. The story of the Cinque Terre dates back to the Middle Ages, when the populations of the Vara Valley managed to cross the sea during the migration phenomenon. Contrary to what many people may think, these populations were not made of great fishermen. They were peasants, which means that they started terrace cultivation on the sides of mountains, mainly growing vines and olive trees. In the modern age this area officially became part of the genoese territory and, for the first time in history, an officer used the name “Le Cinque Terre” in a report.

Why are they called “Cinque Terre”?

The name “Cinque Terre” derives from its five villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza e Monterosso) with similar features and “terre” , because this was the word used in the Ligurian dialect in the past. Seen from the distance, the villages seemed detatched from the rest of the world because of the surrounding fairytale nature. What an accurate description!

Still today this remains a hidden, unspoiled gem and since 1997 has been listed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites as “cultural site of remarkably high value, that represents the harmonious interaction between people and nature to produce a landscape of exceptional scenic quality…”.

The most beautiful sites not to be missed

Each village has something unique and is worth a thorough visit, but if you’re lacking time there are some stops not to be left out.

If you start from La Spezia the first village you will bump into will be Riomaggiore, also the starting point to Sentiero Azzurro, a path connecting it to the other four villages. The colourful houses spring up like mushrooms and offer a view on the clear water of the Mediterranean sea. Be sure to go to the port for a breathtaking view.

Following the path, you will find your next stop in Manarola, hamlet of Riomaggiore, that stands out in a background of vineyards and olive trees. The main square, piazza Papa Innocenzo IV, is where everything happens due to historical monuments such as the church of San Lorenzo in ligurian gothic style and the elegant white marble bell tower called Campanile Bianco.

Moving on with the tour visit, you will arrive in Corniglia, which is different from the other villages because it is located on the top of a promontory about 100 meters high. The most significant example of architecture is Chiesa di San Pietro, decorated by a rose window in white Carrara marble on its facade. The main beautiful feature of this church is its balcony, offering a breathtaking view on the sea.

The most suggestive port in the Cinque Terre is the one of Vernazza, being the only one not man-made.

Last but not least, the biggest village is Monterosso al Mare. Enjoy a relaxing walk on the soft sand of spiaggia di Fegina and finally take a look at the amazing Statua del gigante. Here, beyond the parking space, starts the portual area.

Specialità gastronomiche

The Cinque Terre is worth visiting, not only for its beauty, but also for the culinary traditions. There are countless specialities to choose from! For visitors who want to try genuine local food, you have the classic focaccia coi buchi and trofie-pasta with pesto sauce. A more delicate course is the frisé de burbugiun, a perfect side-dish. Concerning beverages, nothing is better than a glass of wine; the most famous ones are the AOC white wine and the Schiacchetrà. Don’t forget to give a try to a wine tasting in some local winehouse.

Events and traditional feasts in the Cinque Terre

  1. Every year in August in the Golfo dei Poeti takes place the most famous swimming competition, which goes from Porto Venere to Lerici, for a total distance of 8 km. The Coppa Byron prize of the competition is dedicated to Lord Byron, who was the first to take on this swimming adventure.
  2. One of the Cinque Terre, Manarola, hosts every year the world’s largest navity scene, made up exactly on the top of the hill. More than 8 km of electric cabe, 17000 ligh bulbs and 300 life-size figures are used to create the navity scene.
  3. Un altro evento molto speciale è il Natale subacqueo di Vernazza, che si festeggia con la nascita del Bambin Gesù nelle acque del piccolo golfo a mezzanotte, seguita dalla tipica messa natalizia. Another very special event is the Underwater Christmas of Vernazza, which begins with the birth of Jesus in the waters of the Gulf at midnight, followed by the traditional Christmas mass.

Well, wouldn’t you like to embark on this adventure to discover fascinating new places, absolutely unique? What are you waiting for? If you want to see another wonderful city in Liguria, you should watch our video in La Spezia.

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