Consider visiting off-season to fully enjoy Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre in Liguria – five villages cosily nestled in little coves, perched on cliffs and hillsides along a coastline so steep as to seem inaccessible except to the birds. The irresistible lure of this land attracted the first settlers about 1000 years ago. In the course of time they adapted themselves to a seemingly inhospitable landscape. They built their homes on the rocks near the sea and they worked tirelessly on the vertiginous land, creating cultivation terraces, or strips of land for wine and olive growing, held in place by dry stone walls with a combined length of some seven kilometres.
Situated along the north-western coastline of Italy facing the glittering Ligurian Sea, the villages of Riomaggiore in the south, followed by Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare make up the “five lands” of Cinque Terre, with a total of about 5000 residents.
Header photo: the village of Manarola
Known throughout the world for its scenic beauty and irresistible Mediterranean charm, it is no wonder Cinque Terre is top of many a must-visit travel destination list, despite the the crowds, even on the hiking trails.
The walk from Monterosso to Vernazza
A World Heritage site, a national park and a vineyard landscape right on the sea shore, the Cinque Terre offers its own special blend of sporty outdoor activities and gastronomic delights made from local produce. A hiking tour from one village to the next along on one of the many trails is absolutely mandatory if you want to get a first-hand taste of these lands, so to say. Some paths near the shoreline are easy to follow, others require a certain amount of “Cinque Terre stamina”.
The stretch from Monterosso to Vernazza for example takes only about 2 hours. Once you get past the initial steep and rather tough parts of this trail you will be rewarded with some truly breathtaking views of the coastline. Not only that, you will also get to see close-up how immensely challenging it must have been, and still is today, to work and cultivate this vertigo-inducing landscape. From the many patches of terraced vineyards along some of the trails comes a native quality wine by the name of Sciacchetrà, an intensely flavoured (passito type) dessert wine produced in exclusive quantities.
World Heritage and National Park
The cultural landscape from Cinque Terre to Portovenere, including the three little islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1997. They represent an outstanding example of a harmonious interaction between man and nature, resulting in a landscape of exceptional scenic quality that continues to play an important role in the social and economic life of the region. The Cinque Terre is also a National Park and a Protected Marine Area.
All photos by Asgeir Pedersen, Spots France
This is a revised version of the article, first published in November 2017.