The Cinque Terre, "The Five Lands", is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia and comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore , from north to south. My wife Kathy and I stayed in a very nice room in Manarola with a fantastic view as you will see in the photos. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach all these town from the outside.
The towns were built in coves where, naturally, water flows from streams down from the mountains. Walking streets were built over the streams and you can hear rushing water in most areas of Manarola, Venazza, and Riomaggiore. Houses were built on solid rock and those rugged mountainsides that have soil are terraced for growing grapes, olives, lemons, etc.
The variation of house colors is due to the fact that while fishermen were doing their jobs just offshore, they wanted to be able to see their house easily. This way, they could make sure their wives were still home doing the wifely duties (or so it is said). Most of the families in the five villages made money by catching the fish and selling them in the small port villages. Fish was also their main source of food. Today, tourism is their bread and butter (pane and burro).
These days the towns are connected by trains along with the trails. The ride on the train from one town to the other may take from ninety seconds to three minutes. There is not much to see on the trains in Cinque Terre because they travel through tunnels. If you hike along the coast, when they are not closed due to landslides, you can walk between towns in a short amount of time. If you hike over the mountains, it can take five hours, sweat, and lots of steps to go to all five villages!
My hike from RIomaggiore to Manarola took me an hour and twenty minutes with breaks for breathing and taking photos. My iPhone health app said I climbed 86 floors and I think it was a mile or two. In a day and a half, we visited four of the towns, missing Corniglia, but I did see it from the trail (photos) and I visited the train station late one night when I was coming back to Manarola from Riomaggiore. I missed Manarola because the stop came so quickly and the train stopped shortly in a pitch black tunnel (a standard procedure, the entire train is too long). After 20 minutes in Corniglia, I made my way back to Manarola on the next train back.
I hope you enjoy the photos. It’s a very beautiful place!! Bellissimo!