Italy’s Cinque Terre

By Liz Fischer
This item appears on page 21 of the October 2021 issue.
Vernazza’s waterfront. Photos by Liz Fischer

On a summer trip to Europe in 2018, my husband, Bill, and I visited northern Italy. After a stay in the Dolomites (June ’21, pg. 22), a short drive in our rental car took us to the Cinque Terre and Hotel Villa Adriana (phone +39 0187 818 09, in Monterosso al Mare. For a 2-night stay, we paid 460 (near $559), including breakfast and dinner.

Just a short walk from the beach, this was a lovely hotel, with an elevator, great food, air-conditioning in our room and a view of the Mediterranean from our balcony.

The Cinque Terre had long been on my bucket list, and it didn’t disappoint. The five villages are much as they have been for centuries, filled with families that have lived there for generations… and a lot of tourists now too.

Monterosso al Mare is a cute little town, with a lot of souvenir shopping and restaurants available. The difference with Monterosso is that it also has an excellent beach, the best in the Cinque Terre. We walked around and spent a short time at the beach. The water was clear and beautiful.

We had hoped to walk some of the trail connecting all five villages of the Cinque Terre, but several sections between the three southern towns (Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) were closed due to unsafe conditions.

 Walking in Monterosso al Mare — Cinque Terre, Italy.

Since the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza was very steep, we decided to tour Vernazza via shuttle boats. (There was also train service between all five towns, but it was a beautiful, sunny day and the water was calm, so we went by boat.) We each bought an all-day boat pass for 27. Shuttle boat tickets were sold in each town, not on the boats.

We visited Vernazza for several hours and had a pizza lunch (about $15). This is the town that was damaged so badly in October 2011 by flooding from heavy rain and then mudslides. With international help, it has been rebuilt and the drainage system modernized.

The town is filled with colorful buildings, some of which include homes with laundry hanging out of windows to dry. Besides the town itself, the main attraction in Vernazza is the small 14th-century church, Santa Margherita di Antiochia. An old castle guards the harbor, and vineyards creep up the hills behind Vernazza. There were many restaurants and shops.

In the Cinque Terre town of Vernazza, Italy.

We spent the next several hours on the shuttle boat, going all the way down to Riomaggiore, the Cinque Terre’s southernmost town. We decided to stay on the boat, since, although it was a beautiful day, it was also HOT. Seeing the other three towns from the water was enough for us.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at our hotel pool. Never again will we visit Italy in July or August. It was just too hot!

Tarpon Springs, FL