Cinque Terre is an Italian phrase for "Five Lands," and it is representative of the five small towns that sit along the Italian coast: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. These towns are located on the Italian Riviera and are listed collectively as a World Heritage Site because of their stunning beauty and historical significance. In addition to being a World Heritage Site, the five villages, coastline, and local hiking trails are all a part of the Cinque Terre National Park to preserve one of the most photogenic and incredible coastlines in the world.
One reason this destination is so unique is because it is seemingly so isolated and secluded from the outside world. In fact, the villages have no roads and cannot be reached by car. Most people choose to leave their car in the nearby town of La Spezia and hike to the villages. People use hiking trails, trains, and boats to navigate between the five different villages, all of which offer scenic views and rich history. While there are many ways to travel between villages, the train is the most popular and most accessible mode of transportation.
The towns of Cinque Terre have a plethora of activities. Their location on the coast has helped them to gain the reputation of having impeccable seafood, but the area is also home to some of the most authentic and delicious Italian food in the country, so be sure to stop by one of the many restaurants in the villages. The locals also grow grapes, olives, pesto, and produce various wines (the wineries are very popular).
The most stunning, and less crowded, attractions are the hiking trails. Each of the five towns has a hiking trail that explores the hills. The most popular hike is the Sentiero Azurro. This trail is 12 kilometers and connects all five villages. Along the way, hikers traverse the scenic cliffs, where they have views of the famous multi-colored houses that scatter the coast. This trail is littered with fresh groves of lemon trees and grape vines, which creates a truly unique and authentic Italian hiking experience.
The stunning views of Cinque Terre combined with its rich history, delicious cuisine, vibrant culture, and magnificent hiking trails all combine to make Cinque Terre one of the most unique destinations in the world. If given the opportunity, it is well worth the visit and provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience.