The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

A Trip to Cinque Terre

Posted on | July 1, 2015 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

Cinque Terre - BeerBack in May, I shared a sliver of my family’s adventure to Italy from earlier this year. I focused on Barolo and my visit to one of the legendary estates in the region, Poderi Aldo Conterno. Today I offer you a glimpse into the more relaxing aspects of visiting Italy, its gorgeous coastline. Welcome to Cinque Terre.

Tucked away in Liguria on the Italian Riviera and just northwest of the city of La Spezia lies Cinque Terre (the Five Lands), so named because of the five villages that comprise the region, all of which is located inside a national park. This location can make Cinque Terre very difficult to access. We didn’t do our homework, so we entered the park from the north and found that the main road has been closed for four years due to landslides. While we did find an alternate road, it was essentially a goat trail that wound its way along the rugged and terraced landscape, slowly descending to the sea—there was a lot of breath holding and white knuckles for sure. The easier route is to enter via car from the south through La Spezia, but it’s even easier is to park in La Spezia and pay just a few Euro to take the subway/train, which makes stops in each of these unique villages. Once you have reached the villages, you also have the option of hiking between them or taking a boat that leaves every 30 minutes or so.

I struggle to find the words to properly describe the beauty I encountered in my two days along the Ligurian sea. I think what I found most remarkable is that the region feels trapped in time. Sure, there is a lot of tourism to the villages, but because of the limitations provided by the geography, there is little that people can do to modernize. There will never be a brand new Hyatt or a luxury residential building. The buildings of Cinque Terre will forever be made of stone and stucco. The Internet is still spotty even at the most luxurious of accommodations, and that’s almost a blessing because if only for a couple days you have to remove yourself from the “real” world and allow yourself to soak everything in. Below is a taste of what I experienced.

Cinque Terre - OverlookOverlook – Entering Cinque Terre national park we witnessed a few brave souls paragliding along to coast.

Cinque Terre - WalkingWalking – The streets all but one of these villages are steep, so be in good physical condition or bring an inhaler.

Cinque Terre - RiomaggioreRiomaggiore – One the boat that hops from village to village, a view of Riomaggiore where I stayed.

Cinque Terre - ShrimpShrimp – Of course being on the coast you have to sample the local cuisine.

Cinque Terre - Vernazza OverlookVernazza Overlook – The view is always worth the climb.

Cinque Terre - Vernazza HillsideVernazza Hillside – Here’s is a peek at those terraced hillsides where intrepid farmers grow vines, olives and other foodstuffs.

Cinque Terre - PickerPicker – Here is my brother on an olive/grape picker. This cart rides a rail up the hillside allowing the farmers to collect their bounty.

Cinque Terre - BeachBeach – Last but not least, you can never forget the beach. Here is a view of the sand in North Monterosso.

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