Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a series of Italian villages that are perched high along the rugged cliffs of the Italian Riviera, and are located within the coastal region of Liguria in northwestern Italy between Genoa and Tuscany. This picturesque stretch of land is noted for its exquisite beauty and therefore serves as a famous tourist destination.

Map of Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre is situated to the west of Italy’s La Spezia Province and is made up of the five villages of Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza. These five villages along with the Ligurian coastline and the surrounding hilly areas form a part of the Cinque Terre National Park that was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. The Cinque Terre Protected Natural Marine Area was created by the Italian Environment Ministry in 1998, to protect the marine regions and natural environments.

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre.

Covering an area of 11.25 km2, Monterosso al Mare is the largest among the five coastal villages of Cinque Terre. It forms the westernmost village of Cinque Terre and is situated on hills that are cultivated with olives, vines, and lemons. The village is divided into two sections, the old section and the new section called Fegina, which are connected by a tunnel.

Vernazza

Vernazza harbor with the Doria Castle, Cinque Terre.

This small fishing village hosts the only natural port in Cinque Terre and is considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Italy. This historic town was founded in 1080 CE and was a crucial location for the Republic of Genoa. The medieval Doria Castle was built here in the 1400s to protect the village from pirates.

Corniglia

Corniglia, Cinque Terre. Image credit: Zharov Pavel/Shutterstock

Located at the top of a 100 m high rocky headland, Corniglia is the only village in Cinque Terre without direct access to the sea. Corniglia is surrounded on three sides by vineyards and green terraces, while its fourth side appears to directly fall into the sea. The village is linked to its train station by a footpath made up of 382 steps that are known as the Lardarina.

Manarola

Manarola, Cinque Terre.

The village of Manarola is situated on a high rock which is about 70 m from sea level. The village is surrounded by grapevines that produce the renowned indigenous Sciacchetrá wine. The village hosts numerous bright and colorful houses, and the San Lorenzo church located at the highest point of the village bears a cornerstone from the year 1388. 

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore is the southernmost village of Cinque Terre. The village dates back to the early 13th century and is widely known for its historic character and the wine produced by its vineyards. Riomaggiore features several stone houses with pastel-colored facades and slate roofs. It is linked to the village of Manarola by the Via dell'Amore path.

Brief History

It is widely believed that Cinque Terre was first mentioned in documents dating back to the 11th century. Cinque Terre was a territory under the Republic of Genoa, and the villages of Monterosso and Vernazza were the first to be settled followed by the other three villages in later years. In the 16th century, the island’s inhabitants built new defense towers and reinforced the existing fortifications to defend the area from Turkish invasion. The economy of Cinque Terre greatly declined between the 17th and 19th centuries and recovered only after an arsenal was built in La Spezia province and the area gained a railway connection to Genoa. However, this resulted in the migration of the inhabitant population from the area and subsequently led to a decline in the native industries. In the 1970s, Cinque Terre once again prospered with the growth of tourism. The villages of Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare suffered from severe damages after torrential rains led to massive floods and mudslides in Cinque Terre.

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