The 5 Terre National Park
The Cinque Terre National Park
Cinque Terre or 5 Terre means Five Lands, a reference to the five, small villages that populate a coastline of about 20 kilometers on the northwestern coast of Italy. The region is called Liguria. Liguria includes Genova (of Christopher Columbus fame).
The Cinque Terre National park, with its 3,868 hectares wide surface, is one of Italy’s smallest National Parks and the most populated at the same time, with about 4,000 inhabitants distributed in five hamlets: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
In more than one thousand years man changed the natural environment by sectioning the steep slopes of the hills to obtain stretches of land and cultivate them, the so called “ciàn”, supported by kilometers-long dry-stone walls. This is the real characterising feature of the Cinque Terre, with an unusual and deeply anthropised landscape: this is why this is the Park of Man, a territory that has become a World Heritage.
To know more on the 5 Terre you can visit the Park website.
Think of that place just between Tuscany and the south of France. Think of century-old vineyards built onto the sides of steep rocks by fishermen.
It’s like the Amalfi coast of the North. Pesto, grapes for white wines, and anchovies (served about two dozen different ways) here are king and a deep source of pride.
The most famous five villages along this coastline are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. These small villages are built along green cliffs that slope into the Mediterranean Sea. Italians refer to the Cinque Terre as “Terre tra cielo e mare” (Land between Sky and Sea). When you’ll be here you’ll understand what they mean.
The Cinque Terre village by village
If you want to know more on our lovely villages, click on the links below and you’ll be taken to the magical world of the 5 Terre.
The Cinque Terre villages became famous because of their fishermen and their wine producers — the sea was not only incredibly beautiful but also rich, and its vineyards are well-known because they are terraced along steep coastlines, with vines just a few meters away from the sea.
The sea is tempting and that deep but bright beautiful blue.
Locals jump from rocks directly into the water, wherever they are and wherever it is possible.
The feeling that you get from walking through each of these villages is the main reason people come to visit them. But, there are a few other attractions and special things to do while you’re here (besides getting your fill of fresh Italian seafood and delicious Italian wines)
First, there is the hiking. Cinque Terre is actually a national park, and trails connect each of the five major villages. The views you experience while walking the trails will be amazing. One interesting fact — until about 50 years ago, the trails were the only roads that locals used to use in order to get around (apart from riding in their boats).
There is a hike for everyone — the shortest one is 25 minutes, the longest one can take about 2 hours. When you review the trail maps that we’ll provide for you, you’ll see that there are two different types of trails that connect the villages – the ones that run closer to sea level (easy/intermediate trails) and then the other set of trails that run along the tops of the hills (a bit more difficult). The nice thing is that, while you hiking these trails, you can find a spot from which to jump into the sea.
Then, there are the Italian wine tastings. When you taste wines from this area, they will taste different than what you’re used to back in the United States. This is because of proximity of the vineyards to salt water. Be prepared to try many different Italian wines.
And it wouldn’t be a seaside holiday without a proper boat ride, which will give you a totally different perspective and will help you understand why those coloured houses are built along these hills the way they are. That’s an amazing way to visit all the 5 terre villages.
Speaking of the sea, let’s not forget that we’ll all be relaxing by the beach when you get here. The water is safe (i.e., no sharks), and refreshing.
Die hard locals will do all of the above in the same day.
So if you want to LIVE LIKE A LOCAL, well, go ahead and do not miss any fun opportunity this amazing place has to offer to you!