Monterosso al he Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are the five villages of Cunque Terre. The coast, five villages and the surrounding hills are part of the Cinque Terre global Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cinque Terre region is a popular tourist destination. For centuries, people have built terraces on steep, rugged terrain right up to the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Paths, trains, and boats connect the villages because it is very difficult to reach the village by car from the outside through narrow and unsafe mountain roads.
History of Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre is mentioned in documents from the 11th century. Monterosso and Vernazza were first settled and later grew while other villages were within the territory of the Republic of Genoa. In the 16th century, the inhabitants strengthened existing fortifications and built new defensive towers to protect the area from Turkish attacks.
The Cinque Terre experienced an economic decline from the 17th century to the 19th century but recovered with the construction of an arsenal in La Spezia and the establishment of the railway to Genoa.
The Cinque Terre was heavily damaged by bombing and fighting during World War II. The railroad reduced the region’s population and decimated traditional industries, but the growth of tourism has brought some prosperity since the 1970s.
The main crops in this area were grapes and olives. Some fishermen made Monterosso their home base, but the area’s brightly painted fishing huts were considered a tourist attraction in the late 1970s.
Due to its extraordinary cultural and ecological value, UNESCO added the Cinque Terre to its World Heritage List in 1997. On October 25, 2011, heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in the Cinque Terre. Nine people were killed, and villages such as Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare were particularly damaged.
The storm disaster was fueled by a crisis in traditional terraced farm management that led to a gradual decline and curtailment of maintenance measures 60 years ago. This is partially offset by spontaneously developed vegetation on abandoned terraces, a role highlighted in some of the existing scientific literature.
Tourism and Transport
Access by car to the Cinque Terre is restricted. The road to Vernazza is very narrow and ends 1 km from the town. The Trains run from La Spezia to all five of his towns in the Cinque Terre and to major regional and national destinations. The train station of Cinque Terre is on the Genoa-Pisa line.
Most long-distance trains don’t stop at all five of his towns in Cinque Terre, so you’ll have to change to a regional train from La Spezia. many intercity trains also stop at Monterosso Station.
A regular passenger ferry service runs between Levanto and La Spezia, stopping at all major villages except Corniglia, which is not on the coast and therefore has no pier. Boats also connect to Genoa’s Old Port, Lerici, and Porto Venere.
Paths in Cinque Terre
There are many hiking trails in the park, named using the SVA numbering system. However, trails are often referenced by previous numbers, causing confusion for visitors.
The most popular trail is the Centiero Azzurro (“Azzurro Trail”), which connects five villages. Due to the unstable environment, landslides often close parts of the trail. The Sentiero Azzurro part from Riomaggiore to Manarola, called Via Dellamore (“Road of Love”), has been closed seeing that the autumn of 2019 and is scheduled to reopen in 2024. It is still feasible to walk between these villages, but the paths are steeper and longer than the closed paths alongside the water’s edge.
Culture of the Cinque Terre
- small winding road
- Rolling down a lump of sugar cane along a slope
- and suddenly opens up to the orchard
- Between moss-green trunks
- lemon tree
From the 1921 poem “Lemons”. Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale describes the beauty of Monterosso and how he discovered the Cinque Terre in his poem:
Cinque his Terre was a source of inspiration not only for Eugenio Montale but also for many others.
Dante Alighieri compared the Cinque Terre to the craggy cliffs of Purgatory in The Divine Comedy. Boccaccio on Day 10 of the second novel of The Decameron:
and she brought him two slices of toast and a large glass of Vernaccia da Corniglia on a very white napkin
Gabriele D’Annunzio cites the DOC white wine ‘Shaquetra’ in his book ‘Favill del Mario’. This proud shacket tiger marching into the five green lands.
In 2013, the Cinque Terre became one of the filming locations for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. The 2021 Disney/Pixar film Luka is set in the fictional town of Porto Rosso on the Italian Riviera, west of Corniglia on a fictional map. Porto Rosso was inspired by and modeled after the Cinque Terre.
The 2016 video game Hitman featured the fictional town of Sapienza, inspired by Vernazza and other towns on the Ligurian coast.
Food and wine in the Cinque Terre
Due to its Mediterranean location, the local cuisine is rich in seafood. Anchovies from Monterosso are a local specialty with Protected Designation of Origin repute in the European Union. The hillsides of the Cinque the Terre are terraced and used for growing grapes and olives.
Pesto is a sauce prepared from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts, and pecorino cheese that is popular across this area and all of Liguria. Focaccia is an especially common domestically baked bread product. A staple snack in bakeries and pizzerias, farinata is savory, crunchy pancakes made with chickpea flour. The town of Corniglia is especially popular for its gelato made with local honey.
Two local wines are made from Cinque he Terre grapes. Both Cinque Terre and Shaquetra of the same name are made from Bosco, Alvarola, and Vermentino grapes. Both wines are produced by the Agricortura di Cinque Terre cooperatives in Manarola and Volastra. Other DOC producers include Forlini-Capellini, Walter de Bate, Blanco, and Arigoni.
In addition to wine, popular local drinks include grappa, a brandy made from the leftovers of wine pomace, and limoncello, a sweet, creamy liqueur made from lemons. It is served chilled after meals and is often used to prepare desserts.
Preservation of Cinque Terre
In 1998, the Italian Ministry of the Environment established the Cinque Terre Marine Reserve to protect the natural environment and promote socio-economic development in harmony with the natural landscape of the region.
It is now visited by millions of tourists each year. In 1999, the Cinque Terre National Park was established to maintain ecological balance, protect the landscape and preserve the anthropological value of this place.
However, declining interest in the management and maintenance of the terrace walls has become a long-term threat to the site, and for this reason, the site was declared a World Monument by the World Monuments Fund in 2000 and 2002 Was included in Watch. The organization has secured a grant from American Express to support research to protect the Cinque Terre. After research, a site management plan was developed.
Neighboring towns in the Cinque Terre
- La Spezia
- Porto Venere
Luxury Hotels in Cinque Terre
- Grand Hotel Portovenere
- Park Hotel Argento
- Hotel Villa Edera & La Torretta
- Hotel Porto Roca
- Hotel Al Terra Di Mare
- B&B Il Parco
- La Torretta Lodge
- Angiolina’s Farm
- Colonna 24 Luxury Room in Portovenere near 5 Terre
- Cinqueterre Residence