Villages & Trails of Cinque Terre

A June holiday weekend in Cinque Terre! A short, but beautiful time spent hiking between towns, taking dips in the lagoons, and swimming on the Ligurian coastline! This place deserves all the hype; yet, the teeny tiny towns and trail paths just can’t sustain the loads and loads of people (the train stations were a bloody nightmare). But we found a little solace in the sun, sand, fried seafood, focaccia, pesto, and wine!

We flew into Genoa and rode the train out to the first village on the coast, Monterosso. Monterosso is a great place to stay for families. It’s also the village with the largest beaches because it is the flattest of all the villages. Considering we wanted to do nothing but swim on our second day, this was the perfect place to set up camp. But I’ll write more about Monterosso in the next part.

The first day we woke up early to hit the hiking trail, beginning from Monterosso and continuing to the next village of Vernazza. The overall walking time was about 1.5 hours. It was warm, but luckily there was a lot of cloud coverage. At times it began to drizzle, but compared to a hot, sunny day (like the following day), the weather was perfect for a hike! And I have to say, the clouds and rain did not damper the stunning views and colorful coastline!


We wore our bathing suits under our hiking clothes as we were planning to take a dip in the different lagoons and beaches of the towns. Upon entering into Vernazza, we detoured down a teeny stairway that took us to a small beach for our fist swim stop! The water was cold, it was drizzling rain, and the sand was a little black, but it felt good to cool off regardless. The town of Vernazza literally has one main street that goes from the beach to the train station and it was jammed packed with people!! It looked like a school of fish just wiggling their way down the stone path. We did a quick walk up the street, grabbed some fried seafood and focaccia along the way, and then hopped on the train for Corniglia.

After reaching Vernazza, we continued to take the trains between the rest of the villages. The trail was beginning to get overcrowded and there was already limited space, so we thought maybe the train would be faster and easier. Well, it was faster and easy, but the trains and platforms were so crowded that it was just as difficult to get around as it was on the trails- lots of patience and squeezing through to get by! And sometimes we were just stuck. We also really had to be extra aware travelling with our kid- people were not paying attention at all. Actually, we had to shout “Attention!” more than once after some almost trampled or hurt him.


We weren’t sure if we wanted to visit this town. It was a bit later in the day already and since we were trying to squeeze all of the five towns into one day, we thought maybe we’d skip this one (mainly because you have to climb over 300 stairs to reach the village and we had just hiked for 1.5 hours along the mountainside). But as you can see, we went for it anyway. We didn’t stay long here- enough to walk a bit, look at some art work, and grab gelato. Then we began the long descent on the long stairway back to the train station to go to Manarola.


I think that this town was my favorite! They were all so charming in their own way, each with a certain beauty and ruggedness to them. But the one thing that topped Manarola from all the rest was swimming in the lagoons like an Italian. It was really surreal enjoying summers like a local. In Italy, there are not many beaches and the ones that are accessible are extremely packed, so they make do with what they have- spending time lounging on the rocks and paved docks and carefully submerging into the deep waters of the ocean when it gets too warm. Again, due to its small size, there isn’t much but a strip of main street in the town, but Manarola did have a gorgeous walkway along the edge of the cliff where you could go out for views. We found a tiny restaurant here for a late lunch before heading down to swim in a cove.


Ah, Riomaggiore… the town that the Disney movie “Luca” was based off of, and spoiler alert, it’s just as enchanting in real life! This colorful, dreamy little place is absolutely picture perfect on the jagged coastal rocks and is quite something to see at sunset. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore Riomaggiore for long but I’m sure glad that we didn’t miss this gem!


Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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