When my sisters and I booked our trip to Italy, Cinque Terre was at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit. Cinque Terre is composed of five fishermen villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The villages are perched up on the mountains along the coast with trails that connect the towns. Rather than staying in one of the villages, we rented a large apartment in La Spezia, a port town just outside of Cinque Terre. It was a charming city with orange trees dotting the sidewalks, laundry lines hanging between buildings, and balconies overflowing with colorful plants.
We planned to spend two days on the water; one day to hike and another to wander through the little towns. Unfortunately, the train was on strike one of the days, so we had to take a bus to Cinque Terre, and it only traveled to Riomaggiore. We still managed to visit all but one village, though (and now we have a reason to go back someday!).
Hike the Trails // Hiking between towns will offer the best views, not to mention a way to work off the gelato and pizza as well. Because we went at the start of the season, some trails were closed. When we took the train to the villages, we inadvertently got off at the wrong train stop and ended up hiking the hardest path of all from Monterosso to Vernazza. When you factor in a slight detour (one wrong turn and we were literally on the edge of a cliff), a thousand-step incline, grumbling stomachs, and only a few ounces of water, we had a killer workout.
Catch the Sunset // After hiking through the late afternoon and walking up and down the cobblestone streets in Vernazza, we hopped back on the train to Manarola to watch the sunset with a glass of wine in hand.
Cinque Terre is extremely hilly, so even if you don’t plan on hiking and just want to explore the towns, you’ll still want to wear something comfortable. I stuck to slip-on Converses and boyfriend jeans–I could live in these! The temperature on the trails varied a bit, making layers necessary. A lightweight blanket scarf, like this one, is my favorite accessory when traveling.
La Lampara Ristorante // When it comes to pizza, I’m pretty picky. We ordered three different pizzas for lunch at La Lampara, and they all met my checklist: doughy crust, light sauce, and well-proportioned toppings.
Aristide // While waiting for a train back to La Spezia, we stopped in Aristide to warm up. I tried their hot chocolate, which was unlike anything I have ever had before–it had the consistency of pudding and was super rich. So good!
Pulcinella // We had planned to go to another restaurant down the street, but it was closed that night. Instead, we stumbled into Pulcinella, a family owned pizzeria that is a favorite among locals. The night ended with limoncello shots, which quickly became a post-dinner staple throughout the week.