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24 Hours in Cinque Terre!

This is a packed 26 hours but the five villages of Cinque Terre are relatively small and easy to navigate. Purchase a Cinque Terre Card (€5-7) which will allow you free transport, access to the Blue Path which links the villages and free entry to a few sites along the way.

Arrive in Cinque Terre via La Spezia which is connected to the rest of the country by train and bus and to the Cinque Terre villages by ferry as well. Travel by ferry getting brilliant views back at the coast and of your first stop, Riomaggiore.

On exiting the ferry enter the village of Riomaggiore. The houses here cling to the mountain side overlooking the sea. Head for the main street of Riomassiore, Via Colombo.

  • 10:35-12:00

Stop at the Riomaggiore Castello, a 13th century castle built by the Turcotti Maquis and later completed under Genoese rule.

The Church of St. John the Baptist was constructed in the 1300s and has two Gothic doorways, a beautiful rose window and a Romanesque façade. Inside see the huge painting by Domenico Fiasella along with a mechanical organ dating back to 1851.

The Church of Assunta, the Chapel of St. Rocco and the Chapel of St. Sebastian are other standout pieces of architecture in the village.

Take a stroll along the boardwalk and marina then head towards the train station.

From the station take the stairs which lead up to the Via dell'Amore (the Love Walk) which connects Riomaggiore to Manarola.

  • 12:30 Manarola

b_339_226_16777215_00_images_blog_images_4_manarola-blog.jpgThe remains of the Manarola fortifications dating back to the 13th century are incorporated into the houses on the cliff overhanging the sea.

The Church of St Lawrence has marble tracery windows, a Gothic façade, a Baroque interior and a steeple from the 14th century which once served as a watch tower.

If you happen to visit Manarola in December or January you can see the largest nativity scene in the world.

  • 13:27-13:30 From Manarola to Corniglia (By train around €1.8 and takes 2 – 4 minutes!)
  • 13:30-16:13

To reach Corniglia you have to climb the 382 steps to reach the village located 100 meters above sea level. Corniglia is the highest and smallest of the Cinque Terre villages, it is also the halfway point of the string of five villages. From the train station follow the winding road (not the path parallel to the platform) until you reach the village and head into the main square. If you prefer, there is a bus which makes the journey from the train station to the village.

Take a break for lunch is Corniglia, try the local favorite of stuffed basil leaves and sea bass fillets in asparagus sauce. Finish off your meal with the local miele di Corniglia, a gelato made with local honey.

See the Gothic-style Church of St. Peter (1334) with a beautiful marble tracery window, round arched entrance way and a 12th century baptismal font.

The Oratory of the Flagellants of St. Catherine on Via Fieschi dates back to the 18th century and from the back terrace of the church there are stunning panoramic views.

In the village are the remains of a Genoese castle and a polygon tower overlooking the sea.

Once you have explored Corniglia take the 382 steps back to the station from here you can continue on to Vernazza.

  • 16:13-16:16 Corniglia to Vernazza (By train, €1.8).
  • 16:16 - Next day

vernazza-blFollow Via Visconti and head for the village square which is lined with cafes and restaurants.

The octagonal steeple of the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch rises 40 meters from the 14th century Gothic-style church.

The Monastery of Reformed Franciscan Friars Minor has a quadrangular tower which dates back to the 16th century. Opposite the church is a building or Palazzo, with narrow porticoes, stone floors and a wooden ceiling.

The Belforte Tower and remains of the Castle A. Doria overlook the sea, and two round towers with sea ramparts.

Enjoy a leisurely dinner of freshly caught seafood or traditional ravioli at one of the village square restaurants.

Stay the night in Vernazza at the Hotel Gianni Franzi, the Pensione Sorriso or the Elisabetta Rooms.

Monterosso is the largest of the five villages and the one which most resembles a beach resort, with a boardwalk and beautiful beaches.

monterosso-al-mare-ctSee the Church of St. Giovanni Battista (1244) with a stunning façade of two colored stripes, a green stone steeple and a tracery rose window.

The baroque Oratory Mortis et Orationis still has its original carved seats and a wooden statue. The Holy Cross Oratory has an 18th century organ.

The 17th century Capuchin Monastery overlooks the village from a hill top and is home to paintings by Van Dyck, Luca Cambiaso and Bernardo Castello.

There are the ruins of a medieval castle, walls and towers. Originally there were 13 towers but only 3 remain.

Visit the Anchovies Salting Center (free with Cinque Terre Card).

Head down to the Fegina Beach and the harbor to see what remains of a large concrete statue of Neptune by Arrigo Minerbi and Levacher (1910).

Before finishing your visit to Cinque Terre enjoy an early lunch. The must-eat food of this region are the anchovies in Monterosso which have "protected designation of origin statues" from the EU. Alternatively order the catch of the day for really fresh fish.

(Train and ferry times and prices were accurate at time of publication 2013)

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