Literally translated to mean "five villages", Cinque Terre is located along the upper coast of Italy in the Italian Rivera. It's near Genoa and Florence. The five villages are (in order from north-south) Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The villages are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best part of Cinque Terre, besides the landscape, is that they invented pesto!! One of my very favorite foods, I was uber excited to try some authentic sauces!
We stayed in Monterosso al Mare and visited all the villages except for Corniglia. The villages are teeny tiny! Built into hills, they are near impossible to access by car, but are very walkable! In fact, there is a famous hike called the Azure Trail that leads from village to village. Each village is packed with colorful buildings that decorate the coastline. The view is quite breathtaking!
You can get around between villages from the Azure Trail I mentioned above, or by train or boat. We did all three! We wanted to hike the entire hiking trail, but the two middle segments were damaged while we were there. The northern two segments are the most difficult, and the very last trail is really a short paved walking path. So we got a nice hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza, then took a boat to Manarola, skipping Corniglia because this village is much higher than sea level. Then we walked to Riomaggiore and took the train back to the beginning!
Unfortunately, a massive storm led to major destruction shortly after we visited. In October 2011 (we went in June), torrential rains flooded the villages and caused extensive damage to Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza. What a tragedy!
See more travel posts here, and look forward to the last leg of our European adventure: Rome!