Some places attract for their history, culture, or food. Others allure in a very different way; colour.
Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore and Monterosso are those places. These five UNESCO listed towns make up Cinque Terre, a group of small cliffside towns in Liguria on Italy’s northwest coast. Its pastel-coloured houses, perched steeply above the blue sea, are like a magnet to the eyes of visitors.
Although I’d been to Italy many times to visit family in Rome and Tuscany, this was my first visit to Liguria after many recommendations from friends to visit the famous Cinque Terre. Our expectations for candy-coloured crumbling facades was high, and it didn't dissapoint.
Where to stay
An Italian colleague of mine tipped me off about Vernazza, and as we sat by the harbour, enjoying dinner with a glass of wine after the crowds had gone, we realised he’d got it spot on. Thanks, Alessio. Book in advance, but there are plenty of Airbnb’s around.
How to beat the crowds
We visited in October and soon realised there were two ways to beat the crowds; visiting in the off season and staying overnight in one of the towns. The majority of visitors to Cinque Terre arrive for the day either on cruise ships or from their hotel base at a city such as Pisa or Florence, so early mornings and evenings are relatively quiet in the towns.
How long should I stay?
A couple of nights was enough time to visit all five towns. Stay in one of the five towns and then walk between them to take in the stunning views of the cliffs and sea below, or you can catch the train between the towns.
How to get here
We combined two nights here with a train journey up from Rome which takes about five hours and we went on to Milan afterwards, around three hours. Florence and Pisa are also within reach. Check out flights to Italy.