Living on the sea. This is the feeling of those who reach the beautiful villages that make up the Cinque Terre: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Enchanting places that are part of the Ligurian Riviera, and more precisely the stretch of the Riviera di Levante in the province of La Spezia, which due to their rich landscape and culture have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
The feeling of steepness in the villages thanks to the typical architecture of the tower houses and the splendid views that this provides has been enchanting travellers who reach them from the sea or through the beautiful trails for hundreds of years. The Cinque Terre is a magical place where the nature is respected, through the establishment of the National Park and the Marine Protected Area: a paradise for those who love outdoor activities.
Monterosso is the first village that you will come across travelling from west to east, or from Genoa to La Spezia. It is the largest and consists of two settlements, the old village and Fegina, the more touristy part that was beloved by Nobel prize winning author Eugenio Montale. There are several important monuments to see including the fourteenth century church of San Giovanni Battista, in front of which stood the medieval Palazzo del Podesta, of which few traces remain.
Following this is Vernazza, whose name derives from “Gens Vulnetia”, an ancient Roman family whose freed slaves founded the village. It has narrow and steep streets leading down to the main road that flows to a small square in front of the harbour, from which you can admire the defensive constructions such as the Tower and the Doria castle, which demonstrate the economic importance that this area had in the past and the protection provided by the Genoese against the Saracens and the barbarian invasions.
Corniglia, on the other hand, is positioned on a picturesque headland overlooking the sea. It has the characteristics of a rural village. To get there you have to climb the famous “Lardarina”, a long brick staircase with 377 steps.
Continuing east, you arrive at Manarola, overlooking the coast with the typical Genoese style, tower-houses. The main building in the village is the church of San Lorenzo, which dates back to 1338 and was built by the inhabitants of Manarola and Volastra, as the plaque on the facade proclaims. For sailors this is clearly visible from the sea looking like a white pyramid that rises up between the houses.
Riomaggiore is the last village in the east of the Cinque Terre, dominated by a castle that dominates the historic center. The built-up area between two valleys separated by the steep coast of Canpiòn. Symbol of the village are the three peaks of Mount Verugola, depicted in the municipal coat of arms.