One of Italy's most scenic and rugged coastal areas is the Cinque Terre, comprised of five individual villages carved into the cliffs of the Ligurian coast. Beginning in the north, this UNESCO World Heritage site includes Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Monterosso boasts the best beaches as well as the most restaurants, hotels, and shops. Luckily the town has recovered after the devastating mudslides and flooding of October 2011. During the summer Monterosso can be overrun with tourists from visiting cruise ships.
Vernazza is my favorite village because it is so picturesque. Its half-moon-shaped harbor looks like a postcard. Vernazza was the hardest hit during the mudslide, and for months the town was almost nonexistent. But today the village is thriving as a hot tourist spot.
Corniglia is the smallest village, and sits high atop a steep hill rather than on the beach. The small village sits 100 meters above sea level and affords magnificent views.
The lovely village of Manarola is also the starting point of the Via dell' Amore, a paved easy 2-kilometer walk on a path above the water. The trail ends in the final village of Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is the final and most southern of the villages Its pastel-colored homes jut out vertically along steep cliffs. The appealing shops and locally produced wine are another part of its draw.
A jewel along Italy's Ligurian coast, the Cinque Terre is a favorite spot of mine to return. A visit here is well worth the time.
Margie Miklas is an American writer with a passion for Italy. She writes the blog, margieinitaly. Follow her on Twitter, FaceBook and Pinterest. She is the author of Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy and the recently published My Love Affair with Sicily.
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