The Cinque Terre ( Five Lands) is a part of the coastline of the Italian region Liguria that includes five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso and Vernazza.
The coastline and the hillside has been a natural reserve since1997 to preserve this reign made of wild scents, and they are part of the UNESCO world heritage list.
There is not much to do in the villages except to sit back and enjoy the beauty around you. You can actually trek and explore all the 5 villages as they are connected along the coast., Sentiero Azzurro ("Azure Trail"), connects the five villages. This treks runs along the coastline and offers a fantastic views all throughout.
If you prefer mechanical means, Cinque Terre trains connect the La Spezia train station to all five towns. Unlimited day passes are available , and the trip from one village to another is five minutes or less. Manarola train station is on the cliff overlooking the sea and here you would never mind waiting for a train :)
We are sure that all the towns are charming in their own right but we can attest to Manarola's picturesque beauty and the mesmerizing sunset. We actually sat down for a good 3 hours and watched the sunset and the colours change till late night. The views captivate you and the time flies by. We almost missed our dinner, a trade off we were willing to make. The view was spell binding and it was not difficult to forget everything else.
We did manage to get a pretty good meal in the end though. There are many restaurants lining the street as you walk towards the coast, with a few sea facing ones as well. Picture this, sound of waves crashing against the coast in the distance, comforting breeze caressing you, table by the side of road sloping and curving on its way up the hill, flanked by traditional colourful houses - dimly light by the moon and the night lamps and an delicious meal on the table. If this does not relaxes you down to your bones then nothing will.
We would strongly recommend a walk in the morning; with far less crowd on the street the place presents itself in a different light. For breakfast, the cafes serve freshly baked croissants,breads and of course coffee (after our travels I can safely say that Italians make the best coffee).
Also, don't miss a Gelateria right opposite to the station and a take away shop Pan &Pumate which serves amazing focaccia.
There isn’t any sandy beach here but that does not mean there is nothing to do - there is sea after all. You can go for a swim or jump off the cliff into the water. This in addition to delicious meals, picturesque treks and mesmerizing vistas.
Nestled cozily between sea and mountains, it is a place which offers escape from the frantic pace of our daily lives and cradles us to a state of mental relaxation that is so rare and precious.
How to reach- Nearest airport is Pisa and you can then take a train from Pisa to La spezia and from there to Manarola.Its around 45 min by train from Pisa . The train network is really well connected.
Where to stay- Its best if you stay in one of the villages. The prices are steeper in comparison to La Spezia but you will find the stay here worth it. We stayed at Giovanni Rooms.
The view was pretty amazing from our room and it was right in the center of the village.