Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands” in Italian, refers to the five coastal towns of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The region is famous for its dramatic seaside cliffs, colorful buildings and delicious pesto sauce.

Welcome to Cinque Terre! 

My visit to Cinque Terre began with a quick stop in Manarola for an introduction to the region. We saw some of the famous vineyards, built into impossibly steep hillsides and looking as though the next rainstorm would wash them all away. (Spoiler alert: they’re sturdier than they looked. People have been growing grapes here for centuries.) Vineyards like this produce a special kind of grape that produces a special kind of wine – Sciacchetra. It’s a white dessert wine that only comes from Cinque Terre. Incredibly sweet and incredibly rare.

Cinque Terre vineyard.

We caught our first glimpses of the pale Ligurian Sea and famous colorful cliffside buildings. It was unreal to finally see in person what I’d been looking at in photos for so long!

The colorful town of Manarola. 
Found the ocean!
Dramatic cliffs of Cinque Terre. 

We hopped on the local train headed east for Riomaggiore for even more surprises.

My friends and I decided to have lunch in Riomaggiore. Since the entire Cinque Terre area is famous for its pesto, choosing what to eat was an easy task. We tried the pesto pizza at a place recommended to us by our tour guide. It was easy to see why Cinque Terre’s pesto is so famous – it was delicious!

Happy travelers enjoying pesto pizza. 
New favorite kind of pizza. 

After lunch, we walked around the town a bit more and made our way to the seaside to take in the views.

A casual wild cactus by the sea. 

We then took another local train to the Cinque Terre’s most famous beach town – Monterosso al Mare. We were totally amazed by the color of the water – it was so bright! The oncoming storm made it look even more surreal too, since the water was so much lighter than the sky.

Our plan was to walk around the town first and visit the beach second. The quaint shops and old architecture were so fun to explore. We even accidentally stumbled upon some farmland and impressive home gardens, plus a seaside cave.

Then, it started to rain. Italian weather is as unpredictable as New England’s, it seems. It’s also as quick-changing as New England’s, so after only an hour the storm had passed. That hour gave us the perfect opportunity to try some more local flavors, too – namely, some wine and delicious tiramisu.


We only had to walk across the street to reach the water, so after the rain let up that’s what we did. The air was still a bit chilly so I didn’t go swimming, but I certainly rolled my leggings up as far as possible and put my feet in. The water was so warm! A wonderful characteristic of Mediterranean waters.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how the sky and water contrasted each other either. It felt like I was in a different world. The sky was purple and the sea was light aqua. Definitely an incredible experience.

So many colors!
Headed into the warmest beach water I’ve ever felt.
Touching the Mediterranean! (Kind of – this water goes by a different name, but all those seas are connected so I’m going with Mediterranean anyway.) 

We took some photos, enjoyed the feeling of water and sand and laughed about how we were actually touching a part of the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually the time came to head back to Florence, so we hopped back on the train to La Spezia. We got back on the bus there and enjoyed a restful drive back to Florence. We even got to see Carrara (the mountain where the fancy Italian marble comes from) from the bus on the way home. A packed and exciting day!

Gelato Count: 23

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