The coastal stretch along the Italian Riviera known as Cinque Terre is a cluster of 5 small villages right on the edge of the cliffs surrounded by clear blue salty water. Each town has colourful houses that lead you all the way down to the water and terraced farms spanning the hills above… mostly growing grapes and lemons. Each town is similar but each unique in their own way.
Riomaggiore is the town we stayed in. It’s the southernmost of the five. As soon as we arrived we dropped all our stuff off at our airbnb and went straight to the beach. The beach was pebbles and big rocks, so we found ourselves a rock and got straight in the water. It was crystal clear and a perfect temperature, refreshing, but not too cold. Then it was time for aperitivo so we found the best place, a little table nook with a perfect view, and got some bruschetta and limoncello. We wandered through the streets and found a cute dinner place. Then we had gelato and went home.
No one was swimming anywhere at this village so we found a nice spot out of the way and then million people joined us. It’s was crazy… legit no one, then everyone. After we splashed around, Chris went for a crazy long swim while I layed in the sun. We then got our daily gelato and went for what we thought was a leisurely walk up the hill through the farms…but the path just kept going. we went for quite a while until we couldn’t see the town any more. Then people told us it was a trail to the next town. We didn’t expect that as the tourist guide had told us all the hiking trails were closed… Apparently only the coastal walks between the towns are closed (due to erosion and landslides) but there are massive long hikes through the mountains which are open. We didn’t go all the way because we had left it too late in the day and weren’t fully prepared for a hike. (neither were some girls wearing heels… what!?) Then it was that time again: Aperitivo! We found the best place up on the hill overlooking the whole town. We had amazing Bruschetta with fresh local pesto and orange juice. Then home for sunset.
Coniglia was very different to the others. Most towns have buildings down near the docks, and then farms higher up. Coniglia has buildings at the top of the hill, and farms below it all the way down to the sea. At first we thought there might not be any access to the sea and we would miss our daily swim! But after a treasure hunt, we found the path down to the best swimming spot of the whole trip. It was a crystal clear rocky little bay, with not too many tourists around. You can even climb up the cliffs and jump off if you’re dedicated. We found a big rock to sunbake on after our swim… can you imagine me and Chris sunbaking? Haha you would never know! We then went and found the best gelato and soaked up the sun and scenery, before moving on to Vernazza.
Vernazza is packed with tourists and has a small sandy beach right near all the boats. We had no desire to swim there. We just ate, drank, sunbaked, and explored. There was a blocked off area with no entry allowed, so we DIDN’T sneak in and walk through a beautiful natural tunnel to a lovely private beach, where we could relax on the rocks with our gelato as the sun went down.
Monterosso is the biggest of them all by far! And the most tourists walking about. The beaches were sandy and you had to pay even to lay your towel down. There are a few small public beaches that are packed. We found some rocks to leave our stuff on and got in the fresh cold water. We swam over to more rocks and climbed up to an old nazi bunker overlooking the sea. That was pretty cool. We had gelato and lunch, and then Chris tried to hide from the sun for the rest of the afternoon. We had a little explore around the new and old town that splits Monterosso into two. There was a super cute old cinema that sadly didn’t seem to be running any more otherwise we would have watched a movie. Montrerosso is known for their lemons so we went for Aperitivo and each got a lemon spritz and sat with a random older couple that happened to be from Australia too. We had a good chat!