The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riveria. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiori. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside.
We were supposed to take a boat to Cinque Terre because the view from the water is supposed to be spectacular. All day thunderstorms and 25 mile per hour winds meant we took a train. You cannot do anything about the weather, so we suited up in our most waterproof clothes (yes we left our rain suits safely in our coat closet in Arizona where they are infinitely useful) and braved the weather. Even in the pouring rain, the towns were very cute. We got to visit Vernazza and Riomaggiore.
The rain also kept away the gypsies (well most of them). Our guide told us to not wear any jewelry and take as little as possible because the gypsies are very numerous in Cinque Terre. We only saw two. They were young girls who were waiting on the train with us. They got in with us, but went to a different car and got off at the next stop. Had the guide not told us they were gypsies, we would not have known – they looked like regular teenage girls to us.
We also stopped at Porto Venere which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited San Pietro church (lots of stairs) and got to sample and buy the region’s specialty – basil pesto.