The five towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
Arriving from Perugia, we switched trains at La Speiza and hopped on our commuter train through the five towns. Our stop? Town number four, Vernazza. This town is the arguably the most picturesque of Cinque Terre. Rainbow colored buildings cling to the hillside. A small harbor full of blue colored fishing boats is protected by a large seawall. Our hotel, Hotel Albergo Barbara, was centrally located at the foot of the harbor in the town’s main square. It was so centrally located that every morning at 7am and every night at 7pm, the church tower bell serenaded us so loudly, I swear town three and five could here it.
If you’ve ever seen a photo of Cinque Terre, most likely it’s of Vernazza. One street lined with family owned restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, grocery stores, and boutique hotels. Everyone knows each other and depend on each other. Cobbled streets, red, pink , orange, bright blue buildings, locals shouting in Italian, smells of pastas and pizza immediately over stimulate your senses.
The following morning, we set to hike to the fifth town, Monterosso. Monterosso has the beach sandy beach and small restaurants dot the beach side promenade. The hike from Vernazza to Monterosso is the steepest and most difficult of the five hikes. You can hike the entire Cinque Terrre in one go, but it would be a long, tiring day. The hike from Vernazza to Monterosso was only 2 miles but it took us about an hour and half to complete. It was worth every steep , rocky , staircase like step.
Passing lush greenscapes and vineyards, we walked along the side of the cliffs, spotting fisherman hundreds of meters below us.
We had unseasonably amazing warm weather and felt spoiled. We could imagine how crowded this place would be in high season and felt lucky to have it nearly to ourselves.
Once in Monterosso, we did what we do best and ordered up two glasses of local rose and lunch, beach side. We could spot our little Vernazza in the distance.
Instead of hiking back up the hillside to Vernazza, we took the lazy route and boarded the commuter train back to town. Four minutes later arrived back in Vernazza. We walked to the seawall adjacent to the harbor and laid in the sunshine, eventually taking a cat nap in the sun.
Showered and ready to find dinner, we decided on pizza, of course, because after all…what does this country do better than anywhere else? Pizza. And wine.
As the sun began to set, we decided to throw our dirty hiking gear back on and go catch the sunset over the town. We watched Vernazza from above as the light changed, sun set and lights came on – it was worth it.