Cinque Terre proved to be just as dreamy as I dreamt it would be. We stayed just a couple nights in the small town of Vernazza, the only harbor town of the 5 villages on the coast. Vernazza was the perfect sanctuary to resort in for a few days as we explored the area.
The Cinque Terre is a rugged string of coastal towns along a 6 mile stretch of the Italian Riviera. The five main villages range from touristy and beach-y to sleepy and rugged. We chose something in between with Vernazza. As a small harbor town there are boats in the water adjacent to the main square and you can actually wade in the water or play in the sand if the weather is right.
One of the many thrills of Cinque Terre is the hiking in between the villages. It’s a 6 mile stretch of pretty wild terrain but it’s well marked and the views are unlike any other (and I live in Utah, so I’m accustomed to amazing views!). In addition to hiking in between villages you can take a boat to and from a few of the villages or you can train. I especially loved how the train somehow miraculously appears in Vernazza, coming out from one side of the bluff to stop into town then creeping back into the other cliff side onto the next village. This is the only sound of public transportation that you’ll hear when you stay in Cinque Terre, and it’s a pleasant one at that.
Our days in Vernazza were spent exploring – by boat, hiking or strolling, eating, and just plain being present there. We ate one of the best croissants of our trip in a small cafe just outside of town called Il Pirate. A quirky name for a cafe but worth the short walk uphill for this fresh ricotta filled and sugar dusted pastry. I also tasted the freshest seafood plate of my life and for several lunches we chowed on the region’s famous focaccia. Evenings were spent in the plaza, sipping aperitif cocktails like their aperol spritzer. We sipped while Everett played. We were all received the dream that Cinque Terre so easily hands out.
While Vernazza is not one of the more tourist-y towns in the Cinque Terre it certainly does get a drove of cruise visitors throughout the day. But at night it settles back down to where you feel as if you’re really in a foreign fairytale.
If you happen to be planning a trip to Cinque Terre here are a few things on my short list:
1. Favorite villages to visit – Manorola (a colorful village with several fun shops and restaurants to explore), Corniglia (a quiet town built high upon the cliff side and known for great wine) and Vernazza (the small harbor town where we stayed)
2. Best Drink – afternoon aperol spritzer
3. Best Food – you absolutely must get a plate of fresh seafood when you’re here. There’s no better place to do this. Also, pesto originated here so grab a jar to bring home or order some trophie pasta with pesto for a casual lunch. And last but certainly not least, focaccia. Have a slice as often as you can because it may never be this good again. I especially enjoyed the pesto filled focaccia.
Everett literally danced for hours around the village center late one afternoon and I could see why. This place is so magical you can’t help but be filled with joy!