Italy is famously romantic. For me, the real romance is with food, aka ‘eat-a-ly’.
Julia Robert portrays a character awestruck, giggling and consistently impressed by her Italian surroundings. And though movies tend to exaggerate and put forward this romanticised image of destinations, I have to say, Cinque Terre legitimately makes you feel this way.
The first things your eyes see are the rolling freen of the wine and olive terraces lining the hills, then you see colourful rustic houses making up the towns, erratically perched somehow perfectly on cliff faces. Then there are the unbelievably amazing sunsets, the picturesque beaches with the perfectly positions umbrellas.
It’s easy to forget travel is meant to be about unwinding and escapism, especially when you have been on the road for a while. Cinque Terre is the perfect place to indulge in a leisurely stroll, eat delectable pesto linguine as you watch the waves crash onto shore, sip some wine and just get lost in the Italian way.
How to get there
La Spezia Centrale is the closest main railway station to the Cinque Terre region. From here, you have both inbound & outbound services from a lot of the major cities in Italy. You can check services from your city of choice with www.trenitalia.com.
From here, you can hop on regular services to the 5 towns of Cinque Terre, stopping in order: Riomaggiore, Manarole, Corniglia, Vernazza and then Monterosso. Tickets vary between 1.80 Euro to ~ 5 euro one way depending on which town you decide to visit (shorter distances are cheaper). Remember to validate your ticket.
Where to stay
You can choose to stay in La Spezia or, as I did, pick a town and stay in the region itself. Personally, I enjoyed staying in the Cinque Terre itself. No curfews, no rush to get back home, lazy sleep ins and leisurely town hopping.
Each town is different. Monterosso is the biggest of the towns and has a more populous and resort feel, so pick one of the other towns if you want to avoid this.
For backpackers on a budget, there are very few hostels in the towns and plenty of apartments/bnbs.
I stayed in Riomaggiore for 22 euro a night at Affittacamere Stella Cinque Terre. Basic mixed dorm, kitchen, nothing fancy.
The first town accessible by a tunnel from the train station takes you onto the main street that goes onward uphill. Head down to the marina and perch yourself on the rocks with a beer and some pizza straight out of the box to enjoy the view of the town, people watch and watch the ocean smash onto the rock break.
The most romantic and quietest of the towns, it is less boisterous and understated and calming being here. Gelato, amazing food, a clear little bay to head for a dip and a rock to jump off if you dare! Lots of cute boats. Best view of the town just past the marina on a paved walk, you can’t miss it.
I didn’t personally visit this town as it the hardest to access, perched high on a cliff and a bazillion stairs to get to.
One of the most if not the most popular of the towns. Church by the water. Grab yourself an espresso. The best view of the town is from the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia, an aerial view of the bay and the town on the water.
By far the busiest and most touristic. There is both an old and new area separated by a tunnel. The new part was probably my favourite; I am a sucker for the cute umbrellas, azure blue waters and opportunity to just hang on the beach. I enjoyed having a meal at the restaurant overlooking the beach and grabbing some gelato after!