Cinque Terre Photo Journal {And A Few Tips}

Cinque Terre Photo Journal {And A Few Tips}

In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine. – Robin Leach

I've long been an admirer of the Italian approach to life. So much, in fact, that I'm convinced I was Italian in a past life - one I spent sunning on the pebbled beaches of the Mediterranean and following a strict diet of focaccia, gelato and vino. And it only took me 33 years in this life to finally make my way home.

The Cinque Terre, a string of five small fishing villages in the Italian Riviera, is a dream locale for hikers, foodies and wine lovers. This made it a perfect destination for a girl's trip with my London-based bestie, Tamara, who spent a week showing me around her city over the summer. From there, it was a short 2.5-hour flight to Pisa, where we hopped aboard a train bound for the paradise that is the Ligurian coast. 

Few places that I've visited live up to their hype in the way that the Cinque Terre do. The dramatic cliffs erupting from an azure sea, the ancient pastel-hued towns teetering on sun-drenched slopes, the narrow stone-paved alleyways that lead you from one trattoria to the next - all of it is even better in person. It's also a place that doesn't require an itinerary, tour group or guide book - all you need to explore is a comfortable pair of shoes and an appetite. In lieu of a full-fledged travel guide on the region, I decided to share a simple list of travel tips that Tamara and I picked up along the way - keep scrolling for our suggestions!


Lodging. For cheaper nightly rates and a relaxed beach scene, head one town north of the Cinque Terre to Levanto. Conveniently included in the train network that connects the five villages, Levanto provides an escape from the throngs of tourists that crowd its southern neighbors - and boasts the only stretch of umbrella-dotted waterfront outside of Monterosso. Overnight accommodation options are aplenty on Airbnb.

Hiking. Don't underestimate the difficulty of the trails here! Be sure to wear a pair of shoes with good traction, and bring a day pack with sunscreen, snacks (mid-hike focaccia, anyone?), a swimsuit for impromptu dips and LOTS of water - we guzzled several bottles each over the course of just a few hours while hiking in the height of summer.

For relief from the crowds, look beyond the oft-traveled Sentiero Azzurro (the popular coastal path that links all five villages). Check out routes 591 and 590, which lead you from Levanto to Monterosso on a challenging 3.5-hr hike - with an opportunity to visit a historic terraced farm that's only accessible by foot. 

Keep an eye out for red and white paint stripes, which indicate a trail marker - you'll see them on rocks, walls, guardrails and stairs. 

Trains. Print or download the train schedule here before your trip, and purchase a Cinque Terre Train Card on arrival. The train card provides you with unlimited rides between the Levanto, Cinque Terre and La Spezia stations, in addition to trail access within the national park. The card is available in one, two or three-day passes.

We found that the trains here weren't super punctual, so it's a good idea to bake in some extra time when planning your commute by rail.

Eating & Drinking. If you're hoping to dine al fresco on a restaurant terrace, be sure to make a reservation - drop-ins are typically seated indoors.

Don't miss:

Panificio da Gino for lemon cannoli and other deliciousness. This is a great spot to pick up some morning sustenance before a hike. 

Focacceria Il Frantoio for the best cheap eats. Time your visit for late afternoon or evening to try their pan fritto, a puffy fried bread stuffed with cheese. We arrived before they were ready but decided to wait around for the first batch - the owner took pity on us and served them free of charge!

Ristorante Ciak for your fill of pasta. Order their gnocchi with pesto!

A Pié de Mà for epic views and tasting flights of the region's local wines.

Alberto Gelateria for the best gelato we had, hands down. Our favorite flavor was amarena (cherry), which is laced with fresh whole fruit.

Don't pass up the street vendors here - namely those hawking paper cones filled with fried seafood like calamari.

Don't do what we did and forgo visiting a local vineyard! Read up on your wine tasting options here.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

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