The Cinque Terre is one of the last remaining unspoiled areas of the Italian Riviera, in the Liguria region of Italy. Five small towns span five miles of rocky coastline with breathtaking views. Dry-laid stone walls, cliffs, isolated beaches with clear water, ancient churches, terraces, networks of hiking paths, and vineyards create a unique atmosphere full of history and natural beauty.
A National Park Made of Five Villages
The "five lands," Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, along with the surrounding hills and the coastline are protected as a National Park and comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the best coastal hiking trails in the world are in the Cinque Terre. It takes all day to walk between the five villages, hiking through breathtaking vistas, dramatic ocean views, and verdant olive orchards and vineyards. Hiking trails that range from easy to difficult can fit the needs of hikers of all levels, including children. A fee is charged to walk the hiking paths.
The nearest airports are in Genoa, Pisa, and Florence. It's wise to approach the Cinque Terre by train, as the very limited parking in the villages may be reserved for residents. From the central train station in La Spezia you can take a train that heads east to the five villages. A walking trail (called a sentiero in Italian) connects the five villages, and a ferry runs between the villages, except Corniglia.
The Apennine Mountains shelter the five towns from Italy's strong north winds, creating a mild climate. Average winter temperatures range from 62 to 65 degrees F, while the summer averages 85 degrees F. Rain showers, short and frequent in spring and fall, freshen the air.
Food and Drink
The food and drink are second only to the old world charm of the area for attracting tourists. Anchovies, grapes, olives, seafood, pesto, focaccia, lemons, and figs are staples of the local cuisine. Grapes grown on the terraced hillsides are used to produce local dry white wines. Limoncino is a dessert wine made from leman peels, alcohol, and sugar.
With all this beauty the Cinque Terre is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially in summer. In high season you need to make your plans in advance to ensure you can find accommodations. While you risk wet weather in November and December, beaches and trails are less crowded and rooms are easier to find at the last minute. Places to stay include private rooms, hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, apartments, and campgrounds. Farm stays are possible outside the town centers. Accommodations range from boutique to luxury.
Art and Architecture
Take a break from the sea and the sun to visit the ancient churches and castles of the Cinque Terre. Each of the towns has its own sanctuary with a unique and colorful history dating back to medieval times.
With extraordinary natural and manmade spectacles, it's no wonder visitors call the Cinque Terre one of the most beautiful places on earth.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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