This post could be called “A Day In The Cinque Terre” but what I packed into my day trip felt like a week’s worth of experiences and will certainly be worth a lifetime of memories. I said it before; I don’t recommend seeing this place on a day trip, but if that is the only option, one should grab it. The final two towns I visited in the Cinque Terre on this extraordinary day were Monterosso and Riomaggiore. Little did I know these two towns would prove to be my favorites.
Right before the train pulled into the train station in Monterosso, our tour guide gave us a little personal advice – eat and drink here! He recommended a little cafe that serves a flight of wines created from Cinque Terre grapes and a little shop right next to it that specializes in fried bread.
The first things I noticed as I left the train station in Monterosso were colorful striped cabanas and umbrellas in long rows, lining a breathtaking beach. This was truly a Mediterranean resort town with both private and public beaches. For a fee, the private beaches include the umbrellas and chairs for comfort and are accessible to anyone for a price. Let me say, they were quite inviting. The sea was the bluest blue and the waves were rolling in. Flowers in full bloom lined the bluffs. Everywhere I looked in the distance I could see the bright purple blooms of the Italian Bougainvillia trees.
We set forth on foot to find the town and were there in minutes. As we walked up the main street, I noticed it is slightly wider than the main streets in the towns of Corniglia, Vernazza and Manarola and had more tourists. This town, like the others, is car-free. The heat was intense, hovering around 90 on this late June day, so the thought of enjoying the cold, crisp wines of the Cinque Terre while sitting a spell was a welcoming dream. We immediately found a table at an outdoor patio just waiting for us at the Enoteca Internazionale. We were offered a flight of five wines with a choice of red or white to choose from.
We went with five white wines from the Cinque Terre (one from each town so we were told) that included a Sciacchetra, a local sweet dessert wine. Each wine was so very different from the next, some sweet and some quite dry. These wines paired nicely with the tomato and basil bruschetta we ordered. I highly recommend this little cafe as it was a refreshing detour. I visited their wine store and among other things purchased some delish Amaretti Del Nonno cookies (Morbidi al Limone), a specialty treat of theirs that I took home to share with family. Sitting at the outdoor table I enjoyed watching tourists stroll along the flower and lemon tree lined streets. What a joy this was. I would love to come back here and spend a week exploring this region.
Our tour guide advised our group to try the pan fritto (cheesy fried bread) from the bakery known as Il Frantoio, located near Enoteca Internazionale in Monterosso. Members of our tour group raved about the soft chewy and fluffy specialty.
Our tour group would be catching a boat to our next destination, Riomaggiore. The town is located four towns over and the furthest from our current location in the Cinque Terre, which would make for a refreshing and restful boat ride. We leisurely strolled down to the harbor located right near the public beach and played there for a while as we waited for our boat to board. The water was so very clean and clear.
As we boarded the two level boat, I was pleased when we secured prime seats on the top deck so I could take some scenic photos. I had a feeling the approach to Riomaggiore would be memorable. The boat ride and views from the water along the coast of Vernazza, Manarola and Corniglia offered a different perspective than from land.
As we pulled out of Monterosso, our guide pointed out some remnants left over from WWII in the cliffs above, reminding us of days long past.
As we approached land from the Ligurian Sea, the fifth and final town on our visit to the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore, came into focus. The famous colorful stacked homes and businesses built upon the rocks captured my attention and create the perfect backdrop for a memorable day as well as a beautiful photo op.
I noticed many were swimming in the harbor and sunning on this hot day as our boat approached land . I enjoyed some time sitting and people watching as men, women and children, speaking in a variety of languages, disembarked boats pulling into dock, sunbathed, rented kayaks and swam.
The rays of the sun reflecting off the Ligurian Sea this evening as it began to set cast a silver shimmer on the surface. I silently wondered how long it would take me to return to this lovely town. If I had my way, I wouldn’t leave. This visit to the Cinque Terre, though much too short, allowed me to see what this region of Italy has to offer. It also allowed me to plan a return trip with some insight into where I might want to stay and what I would do when I return. Knowing what I know now, I believe I would spend more time hiking on my next visit and seeing the towns from above which would offer another perspective and enjoy walks along more of the trails.
This gorgeous area known as the five lands, or the Cinque Terrre, is unforgettable and offers something for everyone no matter what your age. If you plan to visit Italy, the Cinque Terre deserves some of your attention. You won’t regret it.