There are very beautiful places in Italy which we Italians often do not consider as a possible vacation spot simply because we imagine them to be too expensive or full of too many tourists. For this reason, we end up missing out on seeing some of the most attractive places our country offers.
My attitude was changed by an Australian friend who visited me last year, who in his must see list had the very attractive Cinque Terre, The five lands.
In two days I was able to organize a tour for us during a special holiday, Ferragosto, which is a very busy time in the summer, I found great accommodations, nice restaurants and perfect means of transportation and were able to spend 100 euro for everything staying in Monterosso and Riomaggiore.
The train is actually the best way to move around the Cinque Terre, which are close to one another and with very little parking facilities which, for this reason are also very expensive (5 euro an hour). It’s possible to get there by car, but roads are steep and narrow not easy for someone who is not used to them.
If you leave from Milan Central Station with train reservation you can reach Monterosso with 50 euro (round trip); you can spend even less if you can make early reservations.
Once you arrive you can purchase a card which allows you to travel through the five towns at the cost of 16 euro for 24 hours
The only drawback is that trains that go to all five towns are not so frequent as the schedule says because the trains that leave every 10 minutes actually stop only by the first and the last town, Monterosso and Riomaggiore. The local trains pass only every half hours and, after 6 P.M, every hour.
Where to stay
If your only objective is to visit the five towns, enjoy the beautiful views, dip your feet in the Mediterranean, and you are an early bird, one day is enough to see them all. But all this will be possible only if you are a good walker ready to go up and down stairs at a fast pase.
If you want to take it slow and take two days to fit in some beach time any of the five towns offer very nice accommodations for any pocket size.
My friend and I were not interested in a 4-5 star hotel, so we opted for a room in an Airb&b that costed 45 euro each. The room was comfortable, clean and had all the necessary items.
We chose to stay in Monterosso, which we found convenient as it was the last of the five towns and it’s where the train that goes to Grosseto stops. However, the other towns do offer similar accommodations.
Once you have taken care of the travel part and the accommodations you are ready to enjoy the beauty of these five small towns clinging to the hills and which promise unique views.
The list of things to do is very simple: it takes less than an hour to visit each town,
the only advice I can give you is to embrace the reality of this place and let it regenerate you slowly and intimately.
Be ready to approach many stairs but the treasures you will see once you get at the top are priceless. From a Doria Castle to the small town of Corniglia which you can reach after only 500 steps where, at the top you can find a terrace from which to admire the natural reserve in which the five towns are immersed.
Monterosso is the only town equipped with umbrellas and sun chairs, but the real sea of the Cinque Terre is what lies in the small bays and coves that can only be reached by walks or walkways, and strictly on foot. But I found the most amazing water in Riomaggiore right next to the marina, which is accessible via a carved cliff path not suitable for those with a weak heart.
In these villages you will find everything the Ligurian cuisine can offer: from focaccias, pastas to fish. Here too, the solutions offered are for all pockets and you will have plenty of choice.
I have three eating places to suggest: the Belforte restaurant in Vernazza, which offers an incredible view not only of the town but of the whole bay, or Captain Taverna also in Vernazza and finally the only focaccia maker of Corniglia, which has a really good farinata.
If you feel like spending a few extra euro, I recommend Mickey’s Cellar in Monterosso where you can find anchovies cooked in any possible way, in addition to all the Ligurian traditional dishes that will tackle your palate.
Finally, I would like for you to try at the end of your meal a glass of Sciacchetrà, a meditation wine that comes from those terraced hills overlooking the Cinque Terre which have been the main attraction of this landscape for millennia.