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Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Europe, Italy

The Rewards of Walking the Cinque Terre

I hiked the Cinque Terre. Yes I did. Ok, not all of it – one pathway is impassable due to a landslide in 2011, but I walked as much as I could. I climbed up a plethora of stairs, rocks, and all for what? All to see the 5 stunning villages of the Cinque Terre; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo, and Riomaggiore!

My mind can convince my body of anything and everything. Such as – No, you don’t need to buy the Cinque Terre train card – we’ll hike it all – no problem. Now, I love a good hike – I grew up outdoors, and hiking is a great way to explore. But I highly dislike stairs. I don’t get on the stairmaster in a gym for a reason. Stairs are tedious – they hurt my legs, my butt, and every other part of me with each and every step. Worse – I hate uneven stairs; I cannot manage to sustain a moderated pace. Every step is different. And without railings – THE Worst.

Hands on knees, bent forward, begging my burning calves to not give out (because I walk on my tiptoes on stairs – I know; I make it worse for myself). That it is ONLY a few more stairs, nothing they can’t handle. I just mentally have my brain force my legs to take one more step – every step of the way. My brain tells my legs – if you do this today, you’ll fit into the skinny jeans tomorrow! My legs believe my brain. See – it’s like mental manipulation.

And suddenly I get another boost of energy and I finally make it to the top. Way to go legs – you’ve made it – but you’ll have to do that again and again for the next 2 hours. They shake unpleasantly. Maybe I need to exercise more on a regular basis?

But no matter what my legs say, my brain always convinces them, and part of how it manages is because of my deeply routed desire to see spectacular sights. I want to EARN the right to see those sights. And Cinque Terre from afar is a trophy of a sight!

The 5 tiny villages are adorable. Each perched on hills and the rugged coastline in the Italian Riviera overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Each house painted a different colour of the rainbow, each house vying for attention, each deserving a long look.

The villages are so unique – they have remained intact and very personable. No cars can truly pass through or across all 5 villages. They are connected by train and by boat. The pathways in the villages are cobblestone and winding whichever way the curve in the mountain required. The paths connecting the villages are natural earth with stone slabs for steps in some portions. The paths are very thin in some portions with incredible drops down the steep rugged terrain of the mountains.

I felt an energy walking along these pathways. Even with my energy being zapped by the continuous upwards stairs, I knew deep down that the views I would be rewarded with were worth every wobble and breath I expelled. I’ve always dreamed of visiting these villages. There is something so charming about such small corporately untainted villages. They are prestine.


Each village had its own charm.

Monterosso is the beach stop. The only village of the 5 with a long beach stretching the length of it, and the only one that is built on moderately flat land.

Vernazza is the gem of the bunch with its perfectly placed cities and its caressing harbour protecting it from the breaking waves.

Corniglia is the tiniest of the 5 but definitely holding the title of the cutest. Perched atop a steep V shaped portion of mountain, it hugs the corners and the roads wind steeply upwards.

Manarolo is the old man of the group. He is the original village out of the 5 and has cascading wine terraces peeking out above the houses.  It shares the famous pathway called La Via dell’Amore – The Way of Love – with its neighbour Manarolo. This pathway joined the two cities for better trading, but became a famous spot for the youth to mingle. Today you can see locks engraved with two lovers names alone the entire pathway.

Finally we have Riomaggiore. The city of Murals. Each wall is painted in a mural to depict the history of the people who live there; the wine growers, the fisherman, and the transporters. All brightly coloured.

I may have been exhausted after hiking the Cinque Terre in one day – but what I got to experience was priceless.

Are the Rewards of the Cinque Terre worth the Effort? Yes they Are.



  1. My heart smiles every time I see a picture of Cinque Terre. I haven’t visited the area myself yet but it’s definitely on my list!

    • It was on my list for so long – its so incredible! You’ll HAVE to go visit it soon!

    • Lovers Walk is famous for a reason! But the rest of the hikes are more hikers style. No paved road, not even an even ground and at times VERY little walking space!

  2. Your photos are beautiful….it is nice to see that the villages are still so beautiful after the devastating mudslides and floods last year. The Cinque Terre is my favorite spot on earth.

    • Thank You! It is SUCH a photogenic place. The mudslides took out part of the hiking trail but it didn’t affect the cities terribly – at least not that I saw. Cinque Terre is for sure a favourite destination of mine now too. Who couldn’t love this place though right?

  3. These pictures are amazing! I’m planning to do a hike of the Cinque Terre as well! Did you only stay for one day or did you spend the night as well? :) Any advice for new travelers? haha

  4. I loved the post, and the photos are amazing!
    Where did you stay?
    Is it possible to stay in one place and go visit the other four?
    I’m planing my trip next month but still don’t know a good place to stay.


  5. Travelling there next week and loved the blog. I can only make it to two or three of the places as I’m only there for one entire day. Where would you recommend visiting?

  6. Great pictures and I love all the vibrant colors. When I think of Cinque Terre, I immediately think of lemoncello, pesto, seafood and their wine. I love all 5 villages, each one has it’s own distinct character and it’s great that they are all so close to eachother.

  7. Hello,
    Did you find great places where to sleep and to eat ?
    With which budget did you go to Cinqueterre ? I’m wondering how much I had to have for the eat-sleep-visits, etc…
    Thanks for the info !

  8. Hello –
    My daughter and I just returned from a trip to Cinque Terre. I would recommend that you take a look on to find places to stay that are budget friendly. You can find homes and rooms right in the towns that are priced much nicer than hotels.
    As far as eating, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the villages that are all price ranges.

    Have fun…and get to the beaches of Monterosso early so you can get a spot!

  9. Lovely review. Minor typo: Manarola, not Manarolo.

  10. Strålande målande skrivet! Jag uppskattar preciseringen!
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