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HThere are countries with a lot of charm and Italy is one of them. Our Traveling Friends Vero and Ruben from @sunion.por.el.mundo are true lovers of this nation. Today they tell us about their trip to the famous Cinque Terre. They describe their experience in detail and give us very useful information on how to organize our visit to this incredible place.
Also, they complement the recommendations with some beautiful photos making the final result of the post fantastic. We have been captivated by their story! We are sure you will love it!
Cinque Terre and Gulf of the Poets
The first time I traveled to Italy, I did so with the overflowing enthusiasm of someone who is entering an unknown territory for which he feels so fascinated that it seems as if he has known it all his life. It was a real crush and over the years, this magnificent country has brought me so many good things that whenever I can I succumb to its charms again and it doesn’t matter which destination you choose because many of them imply the promise of experiencing unforgettable sensations.
On this occasion, we made a brief (but intense) trip to the Liguria region, located in the northwest of Italy in a privileged environment. Our main objective was to get to know the Cinque Terre National Park and the Gulf of the Poets, an area which, as you all know, is very fashionable nowadays… Shall we discover it together?
Organizing the Trip
The first thing you have to think about is how you are going to shape your journey: are you going to focus only on the Ligurian region for a short break? In that case, I will tell you that Italy has excellent air connections and in this case, flying to Genoa or Pisa, are the best options because of their proximity and price… but keep in mind that, if you have more time and want to do a more extensive tour, you have very close to the Riviera and Tuscany. The possibilities are endless!
And what is the Cinque Terre?
As its name indicates, the “five lands” is how an area located in a wild national park and of unparalleled beauty is known. There are five small villages that at one time were completely isolated among rocky formations forming a “perfect whole”, so they were forced to have a self-sufficient economy since it was only possible to access them by boat or through winding paths that connect the villages. It is as if the area is an enoooormous oyster that contains within it these wonderful pearl-shaped jewels. 🙂
And these pearls are: RIOMAGGIORE, MANAROLA, CORNIGLIA, VERNAZZA, AND MONTEROSSO
Nowadays, they are very well-connected by train, but the trails are open to the public, being a very appreciated destination by those trekking enthusiasts for whom it is a pleasure to make the route that links each village while observing the dazzling views that the landscape offers. Bear in mind that, at present, one of the most important paths, the well-known “Via dell’Amore”, is temporarily closed to the public, so it is only possible to do part of the sections. It is advisable (I would say obligatory due to the type of terrain) to wear closed and comfortable shoes. The routes are of medium difficulty, and they are not heavy, but it is convenient to know that they are “sculpted” between mountains so it is not a straight walk.
My biggest surprise was to realize that each of the villages has its own identity… when you organize the trip, it seems that “seen one, seen all” but nothing is further from the truth… each one has its essence and I invite you to discover it.
There are tourists, who for a matter of time cannot spend as much time at the Cinque Terre as they would like. My advice is (obviously) to visit all five villages, but if you have to choose, don’t forget to visit Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Whatever you do, do it with peace of mind, don’t make it a “I’m going to collect places to travel” marathon… enjoy each one without thinking about time, take one of those fried fish cones or those fantastic gelati di crema from the Cinque Terre and let yourself be wrapped up in the magic of the atmosphere.
Where do I stay and how do I get around?
My recommendation is to book accommodation in La Spezia, a quiet town strategically located to be able to move around the Cinque Terre as well as for excursions in the surrounding area.
The ideal means of transport to visit the villages is by train. At each station, there is a “Cinque” Terre Point”, where you can buy train tickets and also serve as a tourist information point. Although you can get a ticket for 4 euros each way, the best thing is to opt for the one or two-day tickets (16 and 29 euros, respectively) that allow you to move around each village with total freedom, they include access to the paths that connect them, use of toilets, Wi-Fi, the bus that connects the Corniglia train station with the village…etc…these tickets do not need to be validated, as they are issued with the date you are going to use them.
Riomaggiore is eight minutes by train from La Spezia and from our base to the last village, it is about twenty-five minutes away. As you can see, it is an easy and very comfortable way to move around and the schedules go from early in the morning to almost midnight.
Discovering the Gulf of the Poets
If you have time, I recommend you to make two excursions that are essential for me and are very close to La Spezia: Portovenere and Lerici.
If you opt for public transport, some buses pass every fifteen minutes on the way. You can also rent a car to visit the area. In this case, unlike the Cinque Terre area, you have a lot of freedom of movement to do the tour as you wish.
The arrival in Portovenere already makes a good first impression that is increased with every step you take. The bus drops you off at a sort of underpass that runs along the coast and connects to the center of the village. At first glance, you see the row of buildings arranged along the coast with their warm tones and the imposing Doria Castle that imperturbably dominates the landscape from above and you appreciate in the distance the views of the Church of San Pietro, the symbol of Portovenere that is located in a fortress bordered by cliffs.
Getting lost in the narrow streets that make up its historic center is quite an experience, but the best, the most remarkable, the one that totally stole my heart, was the Grotta Byron. A natural spectacle that has become my favorite place to travel.
Lerici is one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages in Liguria, loved by writers and artists, with a gigantic port from which you can take excursions to appreciate the panoramic views of the Bay of Byron, visiting the three islands that surround it: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.
With an undeniable charm and that sense of peace it conveys, it transports you to a time when memories are evoked. From Lerici, you can take a walk of just two kilometers along the Lungomare promenade to another amazing village: San Terenzo. This is a place to enjoy the landscape and its incredible tranquility. Sit down on a small terrace to try a focaccia farcita and let yourself go!
And with this, I end our journey through Ligurian lands. A destination that, without a doubt, is worthwhile and that will make you fall in love from the first moment and if you like castles… here you will feel like princesses/princes because wherever you go, you will find one.
I hope that my story has helped you to get a little idea of what it is like to visit the Cinque Terre and why not? I also wish I had awakened that little traveling worm that starts flitting around inside you when you have decided that you have to go somewhere yes or yes.
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