Cinque Terre, Italy

The second stop during our Italian honeymoon trip was Cinque Terre, Italy. Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages along the Italian Riviera coast. The “five lands” include (from East to West) Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. Cinque Terre was a wonderfully romantic place for us. But then again, this was an anniversary trip and it’s likely that I'll describe every destination as “wonderfully romantic.” Cinque Terre is special because you can completely customize your experience. There are no museums or famous works of art, so it’s all about enjoying the beautiful views and terrain. And there is no shortage of views or terrain! Trails connect each of the five villages, so active travelers can enjoy days full of hiking. The trails vary in difficulty from wheelchair friendly to somewhat rigorous. My husband and I are in decently good shape and we did some serious huffing and puffing on a few of the ascents. However, the views make complaining impossible even when climbing the 368 stairs it takes to arrive in Corniglia from Manarola.

The view while hiking to Manarola
There is a train connecting each village for when you're too tired to hike back. :-)
Another activity I would recommend is kayaking in Monterosso al Mare. We rented a kayak from a lovely old Italian man and spent an hour paddling ourselves along the coast. We got to explore coves and caves that we would have otherwise missed out on. Cinque Terre is quite touristy and I cherished this hour of absolute privacy with my husband and the Meditteranean Sea. I would recommend spending an entire sun-kissed day in Monterosso. This village has the best beaches in the area and several great options for enjoying wine and seafood.

We stayed in the town of Riomaggiore for 5 glorious nights. We rented a one-bedroom villa built into a cliff overlooking the Med. Our view was unobstructed and the sunsets we took in from our balcony were spectacular. We spent every evening on our balcony with our Kindles and a bottle of Italian wine. This vacation is when we officially decided to stop staying in hotels and opt instead for vacation rentals. Having a kitchen to cook your own meals in is awesome, not to mention the fact that it saves a lot of money. I always find our vacation rentals through Trip Advisor. They have yet to disappoint.

our temporary home
the rocky beach in Riomaggiore

We did venture out of our kitchen for some yummy bruschetta and vino.
Riomaggiore was the perfect village for us to stay in, but I would also recommend Vernazza. Vernazza has a natural harbor surrounded by restaurants, bars, and a promenade for lazy strolls in the sun. 
hiking to Vernazza
the Vernazza harbor
Vernazza is home to several charming boutiques offering souvenirs such as clothes, wine, and all sorts of culinary delights. One thing we loved about Vernazza was the pasta sets offered by Enoteca Sotto l’Arco. The owners, Gerry and Paola were so warm and inviting. We could tell that they really loved the Cinque Terre community, and their enthusiasm about food and wine was infectious. At the Enoteca, there are delicious pasta sets for purchase. Each offers a combination of pasta, olive oil, and sauce. The pesto rosso was my personal favorite, but we thoroughly enjoyed everything we bought at the Enoteca. 

an example of the pasta kit contents (purchased for under €10)
watching the sunset while we eat dinner in our cute little dining room
Unfortunately, Vernazza was hit by severe flooding on October 25, 2011. You can remain updated on the rebuilding effort on http://savevernazza.com/
People warned us that five nights was allowing too much time for Cinque Terre. But after having visited the five lands, I don’t think it’s possible to spend too much time there!

We hope to see you again soon, Cinque Terre!

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