When I studied abroad in Siena, Italy, I made weekly posts hashing out everything that week. The problem with that was that I wasn’t really informing all of my lovely readers what to see and to but instead just recording my experiences. Because of that, I wanted to go back and explain in detail what on where you can stay, what you can eat, and what you can see all on a budget. My first stop: Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre was the first place I wanted to go once we landed in Italy. The inner wanderlust in me was drawn to the beautiful colored towns and my stomach was drawn to the neverending amount of seafood. Cinque Terre was found in the 11th century and is comprised of five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Cinque Terre is known for its beautiful colored buildings and picturesque waterside views.
Where to Stay
We ended up staying in a hostel in Riomaggiore (village pictured above). Location wise, the hostel was great… amenity wise… not so great, which is why I am choosing to leave it out of this post. I would recommend looking on Hostelworld for better hostels or AirBnB for beautiful home rentals. Since this was our first trip, I blame our booking on our lack of experience. But, nonetheless, it worked out perfectly because we were at the bookend of all of the villages. I would recommend starting out in Monterosso al Mare or Riomaggiore so that you can work your way up or down to the villages.
Where to Eat
Okay, this is definitely my favorite thing when it comes to travel: the food. La Spezia, the region Cinque Terre is in, is known for pesto, seafood, and focaccia.
Quick Bites to Eat. Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread that is similar to pizza because it too tastes like the nectar from the gods. Pictured above is a slice of vegetarian from Vernazza with all the good stuff imageable. You can get just the bread with olive oil but I opted for the good stuff… I’m American after all. The picture next to the focaccia is the seafood I’ve been dreaming of since that magical day. Also in Vernazza, you can pick up a cone of all the fried seafood imaginable. This calamari is no joke and will literally speak to your soul.
Sit Down Dinner. On our first night, we sat down at La Lampara in Riomaggiore. It was pouring the day we arrived and we were happy just to be inside and dry. When the food started pouring out, we were thrilled. The four of us split a bottle of the house white wine while two of us scarfed down pesto pasta and the other two ate pizza. If you’re traveling in Italy, make sure you always order the house wine because it is usually fresh and much cheaper than bottled wine. Warning: if you end up having pesto at La Lampara it may ruin presto for the rest of your life because it is that good.
What to Do
Hiking. The best way to explore is hiking the different paths from each city. You can also take a train between the cities but the best way to take in the entire area is hiking. There are hiking trails to each village and each one gives you breathtaking views of towns. When I went, we hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso, which is the longest stretch between the five villages. The pictures above are some of the views you can see on your hike. The day we decided to hike we ended up walking 8.56 miles and climbing 133 floors… your butt will definitely feel it the next day. Easier hikes include the Love Walk, Via dell’Amore, where it is a steady, flat walk along the water.
Beach. When there is water, there is time for the beach! Most of the villages don’t have access to the water because of how rocky the terrain is. If you make it to Monterosso, you’ll find a beautiful beach covered in umbrellas. It was cloudy and rainy when we went so we didn’t get to experience it, but when I go back you bet my butt will be covered in sand.
Explore. Everywhere you walk in these villages are coated with rich history and beautiful colored walls. You’ll see villagers going about their normal lives and tourist exploring wildly. When we were there, we saw multiple weddings and even a couple taking pictures on the wave-crushing rocks. Take it all in when you’re there and don’t forget to take a few pictures to look back on.
Have you ever been to Cinque Terre or are you planning a visit? Let me know in the comments down below.