The Beauty of the Five Lands: Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre which means five lands is on the brink of Italian Riviera. It is named after the five small towns of Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso and Riomaggiore. It has out of the ordinary scenes that are very architectural and filled with lively colors. These villages are connected by old steps and different hiking trails. Accommodation booking should done early especially during summer.

Cinque Terre

Stunning villages – The cinque Terre – Source

Monterosso the largest of them all is among the most scenic towns in Italy. It is located on the Ligurian Sea and is the point of departure for 12km hiking path used by adventurers that runs down the Coast of Cinque Terre. This village features various tourist attractions like a cathedral, castle and a sandy beach with a magnificent footpath. One can board a ferry that connects this town to the other four towns.

Corniglia, the smallest of Cinque Terre villages is located in the center of the five villages. It is not adjacent to the sea like the others but is about 100metres high on a cape. Three sides of this town are surrounded by terraces and vineyards while the part that goes down sharply to the sea is the fourth side. You can reach this village by climbing the Lardarina if you love climbing. It has the narrow roads and a terrace through which the other four villages can be seen with two on one side and the other two on the other.

Manarola built at the mouth of river Volastra has very steep narrow alleyways that lead you to the waterfront. It is considered to be the quietest village of all the five and is known for producing olive oil and wine. The distinctive terraces with vines can be viewed from the hilltop. Wine lovers can make a stop at the small museum that is devoted to wine. It has a tiny harbor with blue water formed by a terraced boardwalk. Sit at the piazza if you want to enjoy the atmosphere and have some great seafood.

Riomaggiore the first of the Five Lands lies between two steep hills is characterized by constricted tower-houses. If you want to go to the little beach of Fossola then you can use a set stairs on the south side. Bird watching can be done at botanical gardens of Torre Guardiola. On the lower part is the old castle of Riomaggiore where one can enjoy stunning sights over the sea. The Lovers’ Walk path is a well covered shoreline trail that has stone benches set on the side of the cliff along the way.

Among all the five towns Vernazza is the only one that has a port. It is considered to be the most beautiful Cinque Terre village. It is surrounded by sharp terraced olive groves and a complex layout. While here you can visit Belforte Castle, the cylindrical tower, go hiking through the north-west trail that is 3.5km and you will have to purchase a Cinque Terre Card to access it. At the end of the paths is the open space of haven with a flowing spring. This town can be accessed by local commuter trains. This will enable you to ride alongside cliffs which overlook olive trees and turquoise waters.

Food Experiences near the Cinque Terre.

If you are interested in a food experience around the Cinque Terre you should also check this page about fishing tours in Camogli. For hiking tours in Cinque Terre you can also check out sister site.

Easy Beach-hopping from Cinque Terre

I am sure that everyone has heard of the lovely Italian Riviera, a more commonly-known term used to describe the coast of Liguria, between the Cote d’Azur in France and Tuscany in Italy.  This almost crescent-shaped stretch of coastline is possibly the most beautiful in Italy and has been attracting visitors for many years; it is often referred to as the Golfo dei Poeti (gulf of poets) in honour of the many famous poets who have lived here for some part of their lives, such as Byron, Shelley, Hemingway and DH Lawrence.  The stretch of coast is backed by the Maritime Alps and the shelter provided by this mountain range means that the Riviera has a very mild micro-climate; in short, it is just perfect for a beach holiday and today I am going to let you into a well-kept secret and tell you about 3 wonderful beaches to visit which are little known to anyone except the locals.

Lerici

lerici beach at night – source

Lerici

If you are holidaying in the area, choose Cinque Terre as your base – a stretch of about 18km of rugged coastline and home to five most beautiful and characteristic pastel villages that just seem to pop out of the sea, tightly hugging the rocky coast.  From Cinque Terre, it is easy to reach the wonderful beach at Lerici, just a few kilometres south.  Here you will find a long stretch of protected beach, crystal-clear water and a new promenade for enjoyable strolling along the coast line.  You can drive to Lerici from Cinque Terre, but in season the parking fills up very quickly; you can also take a ferry from Cinque Terre to Lerici.

Baia Blu

After you have enjoyed the attractions of Lerici, drive North around another impossibly beautiful section of coastline to Blue Bay (Baia Blu) beach “club”.  This is a great place to spend a day in the sea and sun, (or in the shade if you prefer – umbrellas available!)  There is plenty of parking and although you have to pay an entrance fee and extra for hiring an umbrella or deck chair, you do get access to two lovely rim-flow pools (one for children), the beach, solarium (tanning area off the beach) and there is the opportunity to take swimming, diving and aqua-aerobics classes.  There are 300 “sites” with umbrellas and sun beds just waiting for you!

Palmaria Island

For a very different beach experience, be sure to visit Palmaria Island, situated just off the coast and accessed by ferry from Porto Venere.  Palmaria Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and although most visitors come to hike around the island, (which you can do in about 2.5hrs) there are some good beaches on the island where you can relax and enjoy the fabulously clear water and the sun and scenery; the most popular beach is Gabbiano Beach where you can enjoy surfing and jet-skiing, in addition to lazing away the day!  When you tire of the beach (is that possible?) you can go on a boat trip to see some of the caves on the island or visit some of the many WWII military relics.

Beach hopping tour for your group

We would love to organise your days our around Cinque Terre and pack them with activities such as hiking to the best beaches, beach hopping, gourmet tours and cooking classes along with fishing day out on the boat, just email us and we will have the best itinerary ready for you.

 

Hidden Secret Spots of The Cinque Terre.

This year go on a holiday of a lifetime and visit the beautiful region of Cinque Terre in Italy. Just to the west of the city of La Spezia, this region of the Italian Rivera is ideal for all; from those looking for a quiet romantic getaway or a luxurious family retreat, this rugged portion of coast has it all.

Lying on the many perfect beaches you can be rest assured that it will be quiet and without the spoils of more populated and well known areas of Europe. There are many spectacular sunbathing and swimming spots dotting along the coast, take time to explore the different hiking and coastal paths and you are sure to find the perfect spot of golden sand and crystal clear sea.

Walking and hiking.

Hiring a car can be a great option when holidaying in the Cinque Terre as it allows you to see each and every one of the villages and the coastal beauty that lies between them. But also you should considering taking the train as it is a stress free option, a local tourist train takes you to all villages.

One of the most popular routes for those on a romantic break is the aptly named Lovers’ Walk or Via dell’Amore, but there is more if you are up for exploring. Head into Riomaggiore and look for the start of the Blue Trail, or Sentiero Azzurro. A five hour long hiking route that connects each village, between Riomaggiore and Manarola there is a simple stretch of trial that requires just a leisurely stroll rather than a hard hike. In between the romantic nooks and awe inspiring views you will find some of the best swimming and sunbathing spots, perfect to show off your designer swimwear. If you are interested in walking and hiking experiences in Cinque Terre check our our site dedicated to the area.

The Guvano beach – only if you dare.

Guvano

naturist beach – Guvano – source

Looking for the ultimate in relaxation and sunbathing heaven? Then head to the secret beach. The beach of Guvano, is host to a little known secret amongst the locals – Guvano is a secluded beach between Corniglia and Vernazza. This one is certainly for the more adventurous couples looking for something a bit different – the beach is described as ‘clothing optional’.

Access to this secluded location is gained through a secretive tunnel – you’ll know you are in the right place when you see a crudely painted naked figure above the entrance.

Almost as if you test your resolve to reach then beach you’ll then have to edge your way through a darkened tunnel for about a kilometre – be careful it can get slippery – while the noise of a train going through a nearby tunnel is enough to think the end might be nigh.

Keep on pressing ahead into the darkness despite the impending feeling you may be about to walk straight into a pole, eventually it will open up and you will realise that it has all been worth it as you are greeted by beams of light and leafy green trees.

Be warned a gatekeeper will be sitting nearby and may try and charge you but the beach is free to use but you will have to pay to use the tunnel, so you might want to hand him a tip for letting you through.

After all your troubles you will be greeted by the most idyllic spot for sunbathing (swimwear or not…) and taking in the surroundings. The piercing blue seas lap a pebble grey shore and the water is beautifully warm for a late afternoon swim. The trek down is treacherous so be careful, but you will certainly be rewarded for all your efforts.

The best way to navigate this beautifully diverse area is to talk amongst your fellow travellers so don’t be backwards in coming forwards to converse with your fellow travellers and swap tips when you get there – beforehand, TripAdvisor has an excellent section on the Cinque Terre as well as an informative forum which should help you find out everything you need to know before you leave.

But, you only need one tip – Keep your sunglasses and sun cream at the ready for a holiday to the Cinque Terre in Italy, as the sun sea and sand will be beckoning you wherever you stay in this Mediterranean paradise.

 

Beautiful alternative to the Cinque Terre: Camogli, santa margherita ligure, Portofino

Come and see with eyes wide open the dramatic natural beauty of this corner of the Italian Riviera overlooking the Ligurian Sea.

The three villages are part of the Natural Marine Reserve of Portofino and the Regional Natural Park of Portofino, an area protected by the region to preserve the extraordinary Promontory and seabed wildlife. Gourmet travellers will enjoy typical products – such as Pesto alla Genovese and Focaccia di Recco – and great Italian wines.

 

Camogli, in the Paradise Gulf

Camogli is a quaint village by the seaside that you will keep in mind for the first impression you’ll have at your arrival from the sea is about an infinite line of colourful houses built along the port. At a closer look you will find out the meticulous work of trompe-l’oeil and the drawings formed by countless shells on the houses façades.

The holiday resort is known for its old fishing tradition dating back to many centuries ago. If you love seafood, better travel to Camogli on May on the occasion of the Sagra del Pesce (Fish Festival), but you can always dinner at one of the typical restaurants surrounding the harbour to taste local specialities.

If you’re eager for thrilling itineraries, reach the Abbey of San Fruttuoso through the hiking path. Not only you will be rewarded by enchanting views of the sea, but you will also experience a great adventure, walking the trail perched in the mountain.

From Camogli, the village of Recco – where the PGI Focaccia di Recco col formaggio has been producing for years – is not far. You can visit the village or just order this typical Ligurian product in a few shops in Camogli where it is served. Among the basic ingredients there is extra virgin olive oil – the key element of the healthy Mediterranean gastronomy – and no yeast. The result is of a crunchy dough with a mouthwatering filling of cheese.

Camogli

Beautiful Camogli – source

Pescaturimo – fishing tourism in Italy.

Pescaturismo might be a novel concept for many, but it can be a fun and a very interesting experience for everyone. The activity entails in going out on boats with the local fishermen in Camogli. Sailing at 8 am you will witness how the nets are lifted and help the fishermen to collect their catch. It is an interesting experience to learn where our food comes from. The experience includes a fish meal cooked directly on the boat wit the freshest fish you can ever taste.

pesca

Pesca turismo in Camogli Italy – Enjoy a fantastic lunch with the fish you just caught from the nets

Portofino, la Dolce Vita ideal setting

The view of the creek which hosts the fishing village of Portofino and its picturesque harbour is familiar to many for it has become the ideal holiday resort framed in postcards.

Take a stroll in Portofino waterfront to feel its relaxing lifestyle which attracts tourists and celebrities each year, since this is the right place to enjoy “la Dolce Vita”. In Portofino you may have the chance to meet international Jet Set, spot luxury villas and million dollar yachts as this is the destination preferred by VIPs from the fifties to nowadays.

To capture great views of the Tigullio Gulf and the Promontory, have a trip to the Castle Brown – a 16th century fort – and to the St Giorgio church, both situated on the hill.

 

Santa Margherita Ligure, in the Tigullio Gulf.

Santa Margherita Ligure is the first destination that you can visit if you travel through the highway A12 coming from La Spezia or the last one if you start your journey from Genova.

Anyway, if you wish to get the most out of your holidays in the Italian Riviera, reach Santa Margherita Ligure through a walking path from Portofino. You will have the chance to take scenic photos of the crystalline Ligurian Sea, coves, luxury villas.

It’s the biggest town among the three and offers many opportunities to enjoy its landscape and the seaside. Here you can either do water sports such as diving and windsurf or cruise in the Mediterrnean Sea to do dolphin and whale watching. Apart from excursions in the beautiful surroundings, nature enthusiasts should visit botanical gardens in Santa Margherita Ligure to explore the lush vegetation of hydrangea, camellia and other flower varieties.

Explore the stunning Riviera di Levante characterized by wonderful marina dotted with boats moored to their nice harbour and coloured by the houses reflecting in the water surface. This is the nicest place on heart tucked in between the green mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

 

 

 

Parma to Cinque Terre – A day trip itinerary

If you are planning your itinerary for your next holiday in north west Italy you should read this short article to get more insight about getting to Cinque Terre from Parma and vice versa.

What to see in Parma.

On the Emilia Delizia’s website there are many articles about the beauty of Parma. You can explore the churches and the theaters of the city in a couple of days and of course you can also plan to take a Parma ham tour or a culatello ham tour around the country side.

How to get to the Cinque Terre from Parma.

Portovenere – not Cinque Terre

The best way it is to take the regional train from Parma main station to La Spezia centrale. Unfortunately these trains are not very fast and it will take a couple of hours to get there, however the service runs at least once per hour. When you are arrive in La Spezia you will need to get the local train to the Cinque Terre. At the station you can buy a cheap ticket that will serve as a day pass and you can visit all the five lands with the same fare. From La Spezia the first of the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore.
Alternatively you could easily drive from Parma to La Spezia in just one hour by taking the A15 and head south. In busy periods it is not recommended to try to park as close as possible to the Cinque Terre, but leave your car in La Spezia and take the local train instead.

La Spezia – The forgotten gem of Liguria.

Do not leave La Spezia too quickly, often tourists do so just to regret it later. For  lunch or dinner time you should not miss a meal at I Pescatori. Head to the port of La Spezia and look for for the Italians queueing in front a kiosk. I Pescatori is the unpretentious restaurant of the local cooperative of fishermen. The food is simply amazing for a ridiculous price and of course the fish just came out of their nets. It is a self service, so do not expect a posh dining experience, but what is served is very good.

Get a Ferry to the Cinque Terre and other stunning locations (Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso).

It makes sense to make La Spezia your home base, there is a lot to see around and you do not need to pay premium prices. The food is good and the town is pretty. From the port you can get ferries to almost any location in the area. If are heading to the Five Lands you can get a panoramic ferry tour from La Spezia port. The boats run regularly and some fares allow you to hop on and off to the desired location.

Portovenere. It should not be missed. The small sea town is included in the UNESCO world heritage. Revellers should take the short hike to Chiesa di San Pietro. A typical religious building with black and white stripes overlooking the steep cliffs of the Gulf of the Poets. The views are simply stunning here.

Riomaggiore to Manarola, the route of love.

Riomaggiore is the first of the five lands coming from La Spezia. The initial settlement is built in the XIII century and mostly composed of the Case Torri .Tower houses built by the Genoans. The clever constructions had a military purpose.  In fact they were build to protect difficult areas and have a proper view of the sea. With time these buildings become small urban agglomerates and they were made pretty by plastering the stone with cheerful colours.

It is very popular to hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola by using the Via dell’ Amore, of course you can use the train instead. The ticket for the picturesque trail costs at the time of writing 5 euros. Via dell’Amore is part of a longer hike that connects all 5 lands. The Route of Love is well maintained and it is very easy to walk, making a favourite for the tourists and visitors alike.

The food of the Cinque Terre.

The food in Liguria is based on the Mediterranean diet. So a lot of pasta, chickpeas, fish, fresh vegetable, olive oil and good wine. The most iconic dishes of the area are: focaccia, pesto, sfarinata, and a long array of fish dishes. Sfarinata is made using chickpeas and oilve oil. The chickpea flour is mixed with water and turned into a runny compound, then poured into a metal dish which has been previously oiled. The whole preparation is then baked in the oven. The result is a moist and tasty omelette like consistency that can be eaten on its own or even inside the focaccia.
Another dish that you will repeatedly see in the area are the muscoli (mussels) that are cooked in so many way.  another one is frittura mista, a mixture of white fishes, prawns, and squids that are lightly floured and then fried in olive oil.

Food tours and gourmet holidays in the Cinque Terre.

Emilia Delizia organises gourmet holidays for you and your group in the area. Activities would include cookery classes, wine tastings, accommodation packages, chauffeured transfers from and to Parma. We also would be happy to organise hiking and boat tours from La Spezia or from any of the Cinque terre, including  Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

Food  and wine tours in Cinque Terre.

It is possible to visit olive oil and wine farms in the area, as well as fish canneries can explored nearby. For parties interested in olive oil farming is best to come in the late autumn as it is the olive harvest times. We would be glad to organise olive picking and grape picking activities for you.

Fish is always the main dish here in Liguria – Fritto misto on the right