Many tourists coming to Italy are not just looking to explore the grand churches and stately Roman ruins. The romance of the Italian countryside and the hold it has on the imagination is evident from movies such as Under the Tuscan Sun. And one of the best places to take in that idyllic ambiance is the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site along the Italian Riviera full of natural beauty and some of the best views in all of Italy. Cinque Terre, true to its name, comprises five towns within walking distance of each other, each of which has something unique to offer the explorer!
Monterosso al Mare
The first and largest of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare features the largest beach on this part of the coast. It also has several attractions within its old town close to the train station. One of the more striking sights in this part of Italy is the Torre Aurora, a watchtower built on a crag high above the sea. This tower was used in the old days to spot pirates, as this region was a frequent victim of pirate attacks back in the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Many argue that Vernazza is the most beautiful of the Five Towns – and it’s not hard to see why, with colorful Mediterranean architecture nestled between two cliffs. The main street leads to a piazza and the natural harbor. Many remnants of the town’s Medieval past are great places to get the best views of Vernazza – the round tower seaside is one of the best to check out. For some of the best ambiance in the region, Vernazza is the place to go!
Corniglia is the only one of the Cinque Terre that doesn’t have a harbor, as it is built 182 meters above sea level. When arriving by train, you’ll have to climb over 300 steps to get to the town, but it is well worth the effort! The local highlight here is the church of San Pietro, built in the 1300s and featuring a Gothic design.
Known for its freshly caught seafood, Manarola is the place to go when you’re hungry! Check out one of the small restaurants and dine al fresco with views of the harbor. Manarola is also locally known for its Christmas display – over ten thousand lamps and two hundred figures are set up at the watchtower. Few tourists ever get the chance to see it in person, so if you’re in the area during December or January, take the opportunity!
Italian artist Telemaco Signorini spent a lot of time in Riomaggiore in the 19th century and is credited with bringing wider attention to the region through his paintings. This town, located at the eastern side of the Cinque Terre, is also the easiest to get to and features stunning views, with buildings seemingly built on top of each other on a cliff face. Make sure to check out the carved marble pulpit at the church of San Giovanni and take some photos from the heights of the walls at the Colle di Cerrico.
Explore the World with AESU!
Are you ready to plan an adventure of a lifetime? AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
2022 tour dates are now available! If you have any questions or want help booking your next adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website. Follow AESU on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.