Ahhh, Italy! the land of pizza, pasta, flashy fashion, prestigious art, and breathtaking architecture. There’s so much to see and experience it’s no wonder why it’s one of the most attractive places to travel in Europe (maybe the world?) with tourists flocking by the millions to experience the magic first hand every year.
My first trip to Italy was way back when I studied abroad. A couple of friends and I found a Groupon deal (lol) for a weekend in Venice and went with it! During my study abroad I eventually went back two more times to see Rome and Florence. At the time it was the only country in Europe I’d visited multiple times, which is probably why I’d hesitated to go back until recently. Flash forward to 2017, and now that I feel I’ve seen a decent amount of Europe it felt right to go back.
Cinque Terre was a place I’d heard a lot of people rave about, in particular my sister and David. I trust their taste and think they have similar preferences as I do, so I knew I’d like it so I decided to go with a friend during our easter holidays!
Getting to Cinque Terre (from Seville)
Because there is of course no flights from Seville to Cinque Terre I flew into Milan beforehand allotted just under one full day to see as much as I could…..Unfortunately, my flight from Sevilla was delayed for over 6 hours which really cut into my already limited time in Milan.*
Despite the short time I saw a decent amount of Milan and was able to hit up all the major touristy destinations such as the Duomo, The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and was even able stop at a cute cafe with some seriously delicious croissants at a cafe near the central station called, Pirelli Nove.
The next morning we set off early in the morning via train to Cinque Terre’s biggest city, Monterroso. The train was about 3 hours (I of course slept most of the way) and was about 20 euro more or less.
The first thing to know about cinque Terre is that it is NOT one city but as name suggests, five different small cities that line the northwestern coast of Italy. Ill be honest, I didn’t realize that cinque Terre meant five lands, and much less that it was not one place until I started doing a bit more research.
The 5 cities are all relatively close to each other and can be reached to and from by either train or even by foot, which make for some nice hikes.
Typically, people arrive to Monterroso del Mare (as we did) and work their way south.We also decided to stay in Monterroso since it was logistically the easiest and there were the most accommodation options there.
The 5 villages of Cinque Terre (and how I ranked the five against each other):
- Monterosso del Mare: 4th favorite
Again, this is the biggest and most “city” like of the villages. This means that it has the most options for restaurants, accommodations, and what seemed like the most trains. It also has a long stretch of beach. We stayed at a place that was something in-between an Airbnb and a hotel and had a lovely host named Cherry, who picked us up at the train station and drove us to our stay!
Aside from sleeping in Monterosso, we didn’t have a chance to explore too much, but did enjoy breakfast there once and a cute little cafe in the center. The best meal we had from our stay in cinque Terre also happened to be here at the most unassuming little restaurant ever called San Marino Gastronomia in the center of the city. Prices were cheap, the food was fresh and all made in house, and the staff was so friendly!
- Vernazza: 3rd favorite
From Monterosso, we made our way over to Vernazza via what was in my opinion a pretty strenuous hike. I blame the heat! It also happened to be the only place where we were charged to do the hike (I believe it was around 5 euro each?) between cities.
Regardless, it was a lovely hike that included a little cat sanctuary along the way and breathtaking views upon arriving at Vernazza! That view is probably the most photographed and famous of Cinque Terre.
Vernazza is often referred to as the most beautiful and picturesque of Cinque Terre, and though I found it beautiful I actually preferred Riomaggiore and Manarola.
We spent most of the first afternoon wandering around Vernazza, munching on snacks, drinking coffee, and eating gelato. We decided to take the train back to our place in Monterroso and watch the sunset on the beach!
- Riomaggiore: 1st and most favorite
Riomaggiore was by far my favorite of all 5 villages! We took the train early(ish) in the morning and startedour day off there by grabbing breakfast at a little cafe on one of the (only) main streets in the village.
We explored Riomaggiore quite a bit, and maybe that’s why I liked it so much. But we did a bit of hiking up and around it and saw some pretty stunning views.
The harbor in Riomaggiore is also just absolutely charming. The colors seemed to be the most vibrant and the waves crashing against the shore seemed the most lively!
We grabbed another coffee here in a little cafe that overlooks the water and sits on the very edge of a cliff- I could have spent the whole day there but we wanted to see the other two villages as well.
- Manarola: 2nd place
From Riomaggiore we hiked our way to Manarola, which was harder than we expected since the famous “Love Walk” along the ocean was closed due to a landslide that has made it unfit for visitors. As such we had to do a more steep and challenging hike than we had anticipated. Still really pretty though!Manarola itself was so charming! It reminded me of the castle city from The Little Mermaid- high up on a cliff, colorful, and enchanting!
We rewarded ourselves for completing the steep hike by going to a delicious charcuterie place called, Nessun Dorma- highly highly recommended for anybody spending time in Manarola. Not only were the views stunning (we were lucky to be sat at one of the best tables), but the food was delicious. We were bummed that the bruschetta was sold out, but the wine, cheese, and meats we had made up for it! We sat there and took in the views for a bit, until we realized we had to continue if we wanted to make it to the last of the villages- Corniglia.
- Corniglia- 5th (and least) favorite
The hike from Manarola to Corgnilia was modernly difficult and was made harder by the fact that we didn’t plan very well! We were already a bit tired at this point, and realized half way through the hike that we hadn’t had nearly enough water. There were no shops of any sort nearby so we actually had to stop at one of the few homes along the way and ask for water. Luckily, the two nicest older women welcomed us in and shared some water with us:)
Eventually we made it to Corgnilia, and though it was my least favorite of the 5 villages, it is by no means ugly or not worth visiting. We happened to be short on time and thus probably didn’t give Corniglia the time it deserved.
It’s the only village that does not have direct access to the ocean, which may also sway my preference. However, we did find a great place to watch the sunset! It was a great way to end the night. From there we trained back to Monterroso and called it a night!
Despite the rankings, I must say that all five villages are worth visiting. I wish I’d had more than 2.5 days so I could really savor each city. Either way, I’m glad to have finally seen Cinque Terre. The Italian coast is really something else, I recommend anybody and everybody to go!
*Fortunately, if your flight is delayed more than a certain amount of hours you are entitled to money back and the compensation money paid for my flight and then some!).