In 1990 we travelled to Europe and met up with friends who were living in Germany at the time. With their Westfalia van, we toured parts of Europe, including a bit of northern Italy, Venice & Florence. Since that trip, going back to Italy had been quite high on our bucket list. We finally headed back there in the spring of 2015. We flew to Genoa and took the local train to Cinque Terre.
The five seaside villages which make up Cinque Terre are; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each village is very unique. During our time in Cinque Terre our base was the village of Riomaggiore. The five villages can get very busy with mobs of tourists during the daytime but in the evening everyone practically leaves the villages, except for the locals, and the few tourists who managed to get accommodations. It’s like many other small UNESCO designated sites, they get populated with tourists in the daytime but are so peaceful in the evenings. Staying a few overnights gave us a chance to experience a bit of what it’s like for the locals who live there. I highly recommend to book early if you want that experience.
Before going any further, I want to rewind back several months before leaving Canada, when we were looking at booking accommodations in Cinque Terre. Since it is a designated UNESCO world heritage site it has thousands of tourists swarming its small villages each year. Staying overnight in one of the villages can be tricky as there are very few accommodations available. (Remember these villages are not very big.) We had connected with one host but he was totally booked up for the dates we were looking for. Lucky for us, he directed us to a local couple in the village of Riomaggiore who he said, rented out an apartment, but they were not listed on any booking web site. The connection to that couple ended with us forming a wonderful friendship that we still value to this day. They welcomed us like family. Their hospitality and kindness made our stay in Riomaggiore a place that we will cherish in our hearts forever❤️.
On our first morning in Riomaggiore, we started out quite early by going down to the village on the hunt for our first-morning café latte ☕️ and croissant🥐.
By the way, the reason I bolded the word “down” in the paragraph above is because as you will see in the photos below most houses and apartments in Riomaggiore are perched upon a cliff, so you are walking either up to get to them, or coming down to the center of the village. But hey, it’s all part of the fun😊.
Climbing up to our apartment was a treat!
Early that morning we saw mostly locals getting ready for the day. The surroundings seemed to bring us back to a simpler time.
I loved these coloured houses. Nice day for laundry!
Bernard’s laundry below, hanging to dry, on our little patio.
Before leaving Canada to visit Cinque Terre we had read up on the hiking trails. We decided on “The Blue Trail” as it appeared to be the most well-known trail, and its description seemed to be the most appropriate one for our fitness level. It connects all the five villages. Based on the time we had in Cinque Terre we decided to do two days of hiking, 1st day we did from Monterosso to Vernazza and then the following day Vernazza to Manarola.
The five villages are close to one another and therefore from the first to the fifth village, it’s only about a 15 minutes train ride. These five villages are also connected by trails and by boat. Don’t miss out, see all of them as they are all unique. That morning to start us off on our hike we took the train to Monterosso al Mare and started on foot from there.
Okay… so this will be interesting! Did I say that the “Blue hiking trail” was the easiest one? 🤣
All those pictures above are to impress you to bring some comfortable hiking shoes if you are planning to do the trails and be prepared to do a lot of climbing. Remember that beautiful beach we started from? See where we left it below.
Keep climbing. We started at the beach below.
This was a nice treat along the trail route, fresh fruit, yum, yum 🍊 🍏
So we finally notice the village of Vernazza at a distance. That’s good news as we are getting hungry.
This view is spectacular! It’s so amazing to spot these seaside villages from a distance. Well worth the hike. If you go to Cinque Terre and you enjoy hiking this is the place for you.
They say Vernazza is probably the most beautiful village. I don’t know if we can agree with that comment, as for us they were all beautiful.
Well, it’s picnic time! We grabbed some bread, cold cuts and cheese and made ourselves some sandwiches. La p’tite nappe came in handy that day!
That evening we were up for a hardy meal. Singing “Chef Bernardo” came to the rescue!
The next day we did the Vernazza to Corniglia trail and then on to Manarola.
The last full day in Cinque Terre our hosts suggested that we visit Portovenere. We took a ferry over there and back and spent a relaxing day in this seaside town.
Our last evening in Riommagiore our hosts booked us for dinner at this nice little cozy restaurant, dau cila. It was just an amazing way to end our stay. They were able to get us a table on the patio overlooking the water. The evenings, in this little village at sunset, is the most beautiful sight.
We also enjoyed some nice live Italian music in the background. Heaven!❤️🍷
At the end of the evening, our hosts sent over to the restaurant a bottle of dessert wine Schiacettra that our server served with our dessert. There is not a lot of this locally made dessert wine, so we were honoured to get to taste it. Amazing!
Oh my my what an amazing evening . You guys , thanks so much. The restaurant A+ . We had the appetizers as you suggested, amazing , then I had the tuna , to die for , Bernard , the ravioli with asparagus and a mussel like selfish in it ( couldn’t resist tasting it , ha…) we shared , me too , Then to finish the chocolate cake which we shared , again to die for. On top of that we had amazing amazing wine. Then they brought us dessert wine , just the icing on the cake to end a wonderful evening. )