Author: Yellow Duckie
Just when I thought I’ve seen the best of Italy in Tuscany, I was completely swept off my feet with I saw Cinque Terre. As far as I am concern, this place is quite popular among the locals but seems to be an off beaten path for foreigners, like myself. I have never once regretted choosing this place as the meeting point with a dear friend of mine.

Cinque Terre, literally means five lands, consist of five towns that lay along the coastline of the Ligurian Sea: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernezza and Monterosso al Mare. To get to Cinque Terre, the closest main line train station is La Spezia. From there, you will need to switch to a local train that travels in frequent gaps between these five towns. The spectacular view begins as you step on board the train. I was completely mesmerized by the scenery: Emerald water of the Ligurian Sea slapping in gentle violence against the rocks of the coastline with the blue sky hanging majestically above it; shyly revealing the coastal towns on and off as the train glides in and out of the tunnel.

This place is a hikers’ paradise and many will seek to conquer the pilgrimage of hiking through the five towns. Although I was hoping that we could skip the hiking part as I have been walking for almost ten days now, I am glad that Pat & Dino insisted that we should try the easy routes (Riomaggiore ~ Manarola~ Corniglia). It was indeed quite worth the muscle ache. I have not tried it myself, but as many guidebooks have noted that the hike from Corniglia to Vernezza and Monterosso is scenic but also very steep.

With limited land, the residents have creatively turned the slopes of the hills into vineyards, producing one of the smoothest and sweetest wine I’ve ever sipped down my throat. Laying by the coastline, naturally, product of the oceans are the greatest resources for their survival. Apart from their much appraised pesto, this place is also famous for its salt preserved anchovies. I was slightly put off when the operator at the factory proudly boasts that the anchovies were not washed. Salt in this case is used as the preservating and disinfecting agent. I must admit that the preserved anchovies are really yummy!

All five towns have got its own distinct features although in a rough glance it may seem to carry similar characteristics. We managed (with much difficulties according to Patrizia, my friend who arrange our accommodation) to get two rooms (despite the peak season) at the rest house in Corniglia. The structure of the building is really small and getting about the guest house was rather difficult (even I find it difficult, can you imagine those who are slightly bigger in size than I am?). How Dino, who happened to be more than 6 six tall takes his shower in the tiny shower room which I find it difficult to do so, is still a mystery to us. However, the view at the patio that overlooks the vineyards and the sea was extremely rewarding.

The most memorable walk I had here was when we first arrived from La Spezia. Uncertain if we should purchase the daily rail pass which would allow access to the bus ride, we decided to walk up the hill. Big mistake. The train station is usually situated by the coast and the town is usually way up high the hill so it was utterly the biggest mistake I've made in my entire trip by attempting to walk up to the town center with our luggage.


View from Riomaggiore Town : Track that we travel on in betweens these towns
Italian way of relaxation?

Most impressive work of art. The life of christ depicted on the vineyards.

Our track from Riomaggiore to Manarola was interesting. You will pass through the "Lover's Lane" and the "shrine" itself was quite worth spending some time there. You can read graffiti of lovers left behind proclaiming their eternal love to each other and the souvenirs they left there: anything they have with them at that time as a token or symbol of their sincerity. You can find all sorts of things from hair band, landyards, pieces of clothing and the most common item, the pad lock.

In Manarola, we met up with Pat's friend and had our aperitivo, a drink with some snacks such as bruschetta or olive, before dinner. This is a common practise as the Italian usually have their dinner at around to 10 pm so before dinner they will enjoy aperitivo with some friends or family.
View Upon leaving Manarola to Corniglia. The best view of the coastal town!
It's in Corniglia that I learn what it is like to enjoy dinner the way the Italians do. I could never understand how they could eat dinner and make it last for 3 t0 4 hours but in Corniglia, we practically enjoyed our first dinner at that duration with great companies, loads of good food and laughter. I had my first taste of Grappa, extremely strong liquor that burns your throat and enjoyed one of the smoothest sweet wine with biscotti. It was an excellent meal indeed!

The most beatufiul of all five. However, I do get tire of the massive amount of humans after a while. This place has got some interesting restaurants that sticks out from the edge of the cliffs, in a way it looks pretty scary to be in there but once you are in it enjoying your dinner, you have the best view of the Ligurian sea.

Monterosso Al Mare
Do look at for the Foccaceria and indulge yourself in the wide range of Foccacias. It was the most delicious foccacia I've tasted and my favourite happened to be the one with the green olive!
Monterosso is where the Anchovy factory is. Do drop by for a visit and be amazed how they preserved these yummy tiny delicacies!
Amazing structures
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