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Insider Guide to Cinque Terre

Ciao belle dame! My name is Martha and I am a Norwegian-born Vietnamese, currently studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. With friends and relatives in almost every continent in the world, I have had the privilege to travel a fair bit over the last few years and the more I do, the more my wanderlust grows.

My latest adventure was in Italy this autumn, where I travelled solo from Edinbsequoiaurgh to Florence to further explore the cities of Venice and Cinque Terre. It was by far one of my favourite destinations in 2014. Italy is not known as one of the most of romantic countries by accident! There really is so much love in the air in this country. The smell of pizza is everywhere…

One of my most memorable experiences was spending a day exploring Cinque Terre (“The Five Lands”), a UNESCO world heritage site situated in the Italian region of Liguria in the Italian Riveria. It comprises of five villages, Monterossa al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. My adventure to this enchanting place was a spontaneous, surprise day-trip and all I was told was to ‘pack light’. Thus, not having done any previous research before setting off, I didn’t know what to expect whatsoever. This had both its pros and cons, and let me tell you – nearly melting away in my black jeans could easily have been avoided if only I knew where to check the forecast! Being so used to the freezing weather in both Norway and Scotland, who would have thought it could be so hot in October?

(The first village – Monterosso. Crystal clear water and sandy beaches… Bring your bathing suits or regret it! (Like I did..)

Cinque Terre is famous for its scenic hikes. During the warmer seasons visitors set out to hike from one village to another – enjoying the unique, breathtaking scenery that each village has to offer. Some of the hiking paths take up to 2-3 hours and the average time spent to hike the whole of Cinque Terre is approximately 6-7 hours – yet taking the local train from one village to the next takes less than five minutes. The Cinque Terre trains connect seven stops: La Spezia, which is where you would get off to catch the intercity trains (in my case to Florence) and the five main villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The last is Levato and although this is not considered as ‘one of the five’, it is still worth a visit if you have time. I took the train from La Spezia all the way to Levato and then made my way through all the five villages on the way back.

monterossa3 monterossa2

(In Vernazza, the second village. This is also one of the busiest villages and many tourists make this their home base. If you’re into real Italian pesto, olive oil or pasta – this is the place to go! The restaurants by the waterside are a great lunch spot too.)

If you’re only spending one day in Cinque Terre, I recommend getting up early to seize the day. If not, don’t be surprised if you don’t make it to all the five villages in one day! I barely did. I also recommend purchasing the Cinque Terre card for the trains if hiking all the way is not for you. But if you do have time to do the full hike remember to wear suitable footwear, bring a water bottle and as little to carry as possible. Make sure your camera is fully charged, because the sceneries in these villages are incredibly picturesque! But most importantly, take your time, relax and really enjoy the outstanding views. The colourful buildings and the glittering sea are beyond beautiful.

Vernazza
(In Manarola, the third stop and perhaps my favourite of the five. Words can’t describe the feeling of standing by the waterfront and overlooking the view of the colourful buildings and orchards. I had a stroll through the village, and it was just as charming. While I was here I grabbed a mouth-wateringly delicious triple scoop of gelato!)

Manarola3
(Corniglia – the fourth village of orchids and vineyards…)

corniglia2(1)
The day ended in Riomaggiore just as the sun was about to set. After a long day of wandering, nothing felt better than to have a rest by the waterside and getting the chance to appreciate the most incredible views…

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