Cinque Terre: Five Cities of Awesome

On September 26, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

I have a new favorite place in Italy. Florence’s reign at the top was glorious but short-lived, dying out faster than Miley Cyrus’s career post twerking incident. Instead, I give you Cinque Terre – five amazing little towns along the Italian Riviera that should be your next travel destination. From south to north: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.


We stayed in the southern town, Riomaggiore, and got a good night’s rest before hiking between the towns the following morning. Like most of Italy, they don’t have good wifi here. Apparently, “high-quality broadband” is right below “teleportation” on the Italian list of technologies to discover. At least we had nothing to distract us from sleep.

Cinque Terre

Damage from the Mud Slides

Unfortunately, the first two legs of the hike were closed because of rains and mudslides that wrecked part of the trail (and a nearby home) in October 2011. So we started in the middle town, Corniglia, and hiked north to Monterosso. We stopped in Vernazza for lunch, where we met a UVA alumni group in another one of those trademark Disney “It’s a Small World After All” moments. Wahoowa!!


The hike is both stunningly beautiful and absolutely brutal. These towns date back more than 1,000 years, and I’m pretty sure the trail hasn’t been upgraded since it was put in. The trail winds its way up and down hills that hug the coast, and you’re treated to wonderful panoramas of Cinque Terre. Our hike started with a climb that felt like it was straight up, making the climb up the Duomo in Florence look easy. Within minutes, our quads were on fire and we were dripping sweat, but we were able to look down on the town from above. Motto Bello!



Stairway to Heaven (or from Hell)

It’s interesting to people-watch on the trail. Some groups have absolutely no idea what they’ve signed up for. They show up in flip-flops and sandals – ignoring all the warning signs – and start hiking. You hear these people before you see them, because they complain so loudly about how their feet hurt. Often they would ask “How far until the next town?,” to which I gleefully responded “You’re half an hour away… from the halfway point.” Thankfully, you’ll find these people sitting on the side of the trail, so you pass them quickly.

Then there are the people that hike the trails at Mach 2 without even breaking a sweat. We call these people “Australians.” Almost every time someone blew by us, we heard a “Crikey!” or a “Blimey!” or they were talking about their next Vegemite sandwich. By the time we got to the town covered in sweat and dirt, they were relaxing by the beach with their third beer. At least we now have a level of fitness to aspire to…

After 3 hours of hiking, we reached Monterosso and promptly jumped in the water. Earlier in the day, we had toyed with the idea of hiking back. But we’re not crazy. Or at least we’re not that crazy. We took the train back to Riomaggiore and enjoyed a wonderful dinner that we whipped up in our room. When the sun set, we walked around the town a bit. It has a different feel at night – more relaxed and more laid back. The hikers of the day are gone. The heat of the day has dissipated. And everyone is ready for a few drinks and a quiet night.


A 42nd Class Dinner

I wish we could’ve spent one more day here. You have to do the hike, and that takes up a whole day. But then I think you need one more day to pick one of the five towns and relax there from morning to sunset. I’ll have to do that next time we’re in Cinque Terre. And there will be a next time!

Want to search for good wifi with us? Click here.

Check out our Cinque Terre photo gallery.


6 Responses to “Cinque Terre: Five Cities of Awesome”

  • I can definitely appreciate the lack of internet outside the cities (and even inside some cities) – I actually enjoyed going “off grid” for a few days in Europe (though I did cheat in Italy with a SIM card for my iPad).

    I am enjoying the stories and the pics along the way – you are filling in some of the spots I did not get a chance to visit.

  • Dude you guys just brought back so many awesome memories of the Cinque terre for me. It’s probably better that you didn’t hike the all the towns (on a bad ACL). I want ot go hiking right now and i can taste the red wine. You guys should be tour guides. Keep up the great pics and thanks for letting us live vicariously through you as we get our first frost in Philly. God Speed guys

    • It’s funny that on this day of all days you send us a message Nate. Today we are in Cork, Ireland, tipping back a few Murphy’s Irish Stouts. Thinking of you buddy! See you on the road.

  • Great post! I love Cinque Terre. I visited a few years ago and had such a good time hiking there.

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