After Spain, we headed to the land of art, architecture, wine, pasta and gelato: Italy! Our first stop in this glorious country was Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre consists of five (hence, “Cinque”), adorable, tiny towns built into the cliff-side on Italy’s North Western coast, overlooking the Mediterranean. Not so long ago it was unknown to travelers, but now the secret is out and scores of tourists flood in during the summer months. We went at the end of March. This was not ideal weather-wise, but, it was a good trade off: we had some chilly/rainy days (and some tourist services and restaurants were not open), yet there were no crowds. These towns are so tiny, we have no idea how they can sustain the amount of tourists that supposedly flock here in summer, and being fairly adverse to crowds, we would not want to be around to see it!
Each little town has its own personality. Most have only one main street with just a few old buildings and churches to explore. There are numerous quaint little restaurants specializing in Italian seafood and several towns have beaches (although they are small and a few rocky). The real reason to come here is to hike, and to simply take in the stunning views. The towns are all connected by hiking trails, used by residents as transport between towns before real roads and a rail system was built. These trails lead you up and over the cliffs, through lemon groves and terraced vineyards, revealing breathtaking views of the coastline, dotted with clumps of colorful houses from neighboring towns.
We stayed in Riomaggiore. It was our favorite of the five towns.
Several days we went down to Riomaggiore’s main harbor and took the stairs to the left. These led us to a small, rocky, but private beach, which felt like a very special spot.
We also spent at least three meals eating at Riomaggiore’s harbor side restaurant, Enoteca Dau Cila, easily the best restaurant in Cinque Terra, and dare I say, to us, maybe in all of Italy! Seriously, fresh tuna steak, lobster ravioli, grilled anchovies perfectly prepared, and house made tiramisu to DIE for. Top it off with local wine on the patio in the sun next to the sea, and you can’t get a better Italian experience!
We were here for a week. Since there are not a lot of “tourist attractions” in Cinque Terre, this was a good amount of time to explore each little town, soak up the slow pace of life, and just BE for a minute. Here are a few more pictures of our time adventuring around these charming towns!