Cinque Terre Five Villages
“The Five Lands” and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cinque Terre makes part of Italian Riviera.
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Sinuous paths tempt the antisocial to traverse seemingly impregnable cliffsides, while a 19th-century railway line cut through a series of coastal tunnels ferries the less brave from village to village.
The first historical documents on the Cinque Terre date back to the 11th century. Monterosso and Vernazza sprang up first, whilst the other villages grew later, under military and political supremacy of Genova. In the XVI century the villages were often under attack by pirates so guards kept an eye on the sea from many watchtowers. In the XIV century there was built the railway from Genoa and La Spezia, which helped a lot to the inhabitants to escape their isolation. In 1870, Italy was unified and many new rail lines were built, the one important was between Genoa and Rome that passed through the Cinque Terre. By the 1960s, the winding coastal road was finished.
Levanto a beautiful town that is the right place to start to visit the Cinque Terre. This is the doorway to this romantic and enchanting five villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Monterosso – the only resort town split in two by rock , San Cristoforo hill and the old part of the village. Its historic center cradles Old World charm within crooked lanes and hole-in-the-wall shops.
Vernazza is the jewel of the five villages. Its action is at the harbor, where the main street, full of shops, is quite crowded. Vernazza had a big strategical importance during the age of the Maritime Republics in Genoa. It has a natural pier with a amphitheatre shape making it perhaps the most picturesque village of the Cinque Terre.
Corniglia is the only one of the five not on the water, it lies high on a cliff above the coast. It is situated on a hundred-metre high promontory sheer above the sea, and it is surrounded on the three internal sides by terraced vineyards. According to legend, a Roman farmer originally settled Corniglia, naming it for his mother, Cornelia . Residents claim Cornelia’s son produced a wine so famous that vases found at Pompeii touted its virtues. Still, today, wine remains the town’s lifeblood. The place to visit in Corniglia is the Church of San Pietro (1334), considered one of the most significant monuments in the gothic-ligurian style of this maglificient “five lands” .
Manarola , the beautiful village completed by its pastel-colored houses that descend right down to the sea clinging to wave-beaten rocks and picturesque views overlooking the sea and surroundings of the wineyards. The place to visit in Manarola is the church of San Lorenzo (1338) with its beautiful rose window dating back to the 14th century. This tiny village is also very famous for its “Via dell’Amore” The trekking path, with a distance of two kilometres, connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore. At Christmas do not miss the sight of the magnificently lit crib, consisting of more than three hundred natural-sized statuettes, placed in the terraced vineyards that overlook the village.
Riomaggiore is located at the bottom of a narrow valley above the houses and the terraced hills. It’s interesting to see the seashore and the upper side of San Giovanni Battista, with its two wonderful twin doors made of marble. Above the village stands out the Sanctuary of “Madonna di Montenero”, built on the homonymous promontory and which is the last of the gulf the Cinque Terre.
Also Cinque Terre offere to its citisens and turists a lot of feast, the one and very spectacular is sight of the magnificently lit crib, consisting of more than three hundred natural-sized statuettes, the 300 characters are made of recycled materials and are placed in a different way at the terraced vineyards every year. The nativity scene is the most beautiful at night, illuminated. It start from December until the end of January.
Do not miss the limoncino and the lemon pie in May in Monterosso. Local people participate in who grew the biggest lemon in his garden and who can make the nicest statue out of lemon.
In June, Corniglia offers a large traditional cake the “Torta dei Fieschi” It is prepared special for that feast. A taste is offered to all the participants of the festival.