After Rome and the Amalfi Coast itself, Cinque Terre is the third most popular destination in Italy. With its 5 centuries-old villages stretching along the Italian Riviera coastline, it’s the place to visit. Here you’re spoiled for choice: admire colorful houses and vineyards hanging off to steep terraces, take pictures of harbors covered with adorable fishing boats and enjoy restaurants offering the best sea food in the area.
See the ancient sites
Visit the Monterosso’s most exciting church complex, Convento dei Cappuccini, which sits atop the hill separating the Old Town and the newer Fegina quarter. Its striped church dates back to the seventeenth century and is famous for the alleged Van Dyck painting. Till this day it functions as a convent and attracts pilgrims and tourists alike.
Another place to stop by is Castello Doria castle. With a history of over one thousand years, it’s the oldest surviving fortification in the Cinque Terre. Here you’ll enjoy some of the best views in the area.
Some more amazing views are reached by a stairway leading up from the diminutive main square, Piazza Taragio to La Torre, the charming medieval lookout.
Piazzale Papa Innocenzo IV: At the northern end of Via Discovolo, you’ll come upon this small piazza dominated by a bell tower that was once used as a defensive lookout. Opposite, the Chiesa di San Lorenzo dates from 1338 and houses a 15th-century polyptych. If you’re geared up for a steep walk, from nearby Via Rollandi you can follow a path that leads through vineyards to the top of the mountain.
Chiesa di Santa Margherita d’Antiochia: The waterfront is framed by this small Gothic-Ligurian church, built in 1318, part of a murky legend about the bones of St Margaret being found in a wooden box on a nearby beach. It’s notable for its 40m-tall octagonal tower.
Enjoy the beach
After climbing up and down the mediaval steps, there’s nothing better than a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea.
Fossola Beach should be your first port of call. Although pebbly, it’s conveniently located southeast of Riomaggiore marina, so it’s still hidden and surprisingly secluded.
Another tourist-free beach is called Guvano Beach and can (hardly) be found between Vernazza and Cornigla through an abandoned railway tunnel. But beware, some treat it as a nudist beach!
However, water isn’t the only attraction of a good old Italian beach. An array of sea-front restaurants make this particular seaside so much more appealing. With tables overlooking the beach,Ristorante Belvedere serves delightfully simple seafood. I would definitely recommend trying their a rich fish soup, or zuppa di pesce.
Join a wine testing craze
Although there are lots of specifically designed wine tours between the 5 towns, you could also explore the local wine culture free from a group. La Conchiglia is a great place for wine tasting. Its superb and affordable local wine list, unrivalled shaded waterfront location and a menu of massive, healthful salads and sandwiches and friendly and unflustered waiters will make your visit unforgettable.
With only a couple of benches overlooking Piazza Marconi and the beach, a tiny Burgus Bar is famous for its fragrant Cinque Terre DOC, made from a local mix of Albarola, Bosco and Vermentino grapes. You can complement this holiday in a glass with breakfast pastry or small nibbles and panini.
Don’t forget to taste local sea food
There’s absolutely no way to avoid good seafood in Cinque Terre. It’s practically everywhere – from unpretentious seafood fry ups to fine small-portioned sea food restaurants, you could end up eating fish three times a day every day!
Right atop the waters, Marina Piccola offers great fish dishes, including some tasty antipasti like sliced boiled octopus. While at a smart Dau Cila you’ll be thankful for their classic cold plates of seafood and super local wines. An always booked up Miky’s offers a seasonal fish menu in its modern dining room, while Il Porticciolo stands out from the crowd of the restaurants on the way to the harbor for its alfresco seafood feast!
Take the best pictures
To take in a dazzling 180-degree sea views head to Belvedere di Santa Maria, the lookout poit in hilltop Corniglia. After walking down the Via Fieschi through the village you’ll get to the clifftop balcony, and might not wish to leave!
Sitting on a ridge near Riomaggiore, Colle del Telegrafo offers simply hart stopping views. Here you can also enjoy hefty peppered pasta with pesto and unappealing but delicious and definitely worth a go, whitebait