Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre (pronounced as cheenkwe tehrre) is a collective of  5 beautiful villages recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site that were built on rugged cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, part of  the bigger Mediterranean Sea. These villages started as fishing villages. Over time, people from outer region discovered the beautiful landscape and soon this place became a major tourist point. Starting from the north, the five villages in order are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

I started my trip from Milan by train which took slightly over 3 hours. There are many ways to get here by train from Milan, which runs frequently and hourly. Just visit and input your departure and destination (any five villages) and it will return with multiple train choices. You can buy ticket in advance for super low fares from the website but I didn't know how to create an account. Therefore I bought the standard fare from the train station. You are advised to reach at least 30 minutes earlier because the queue at the ticket counter can be quite long.

The villages are quite small comprising of only few streets from the cliff top down to the sea. One day affair should be sufficient for tourists short on time. However, I recommend a night stay in any of the villages so you can take in the sights and sound. You can buy a local train ticket for just 4 euro that is valid for multiple travels for 8 hours. Then you can start hopping around the villages. Boat rides are available but only during summer period.

If you are the adventurous type, you can hike from the first to the last village. As the cliffs are very rugged, it will be quite strenuous and it will take whole day. Some paths are closed during winter so again, it is best to plan your trip there during summer.

If you find yourself left with too much time after done exploring Cinque Terre, you can consider hopping on the train down south to La Spezia which is just a stop from Riomaggiore. From this town, find a connecting train to Pisa which is just few stops away and you can visit the leaning tower of Pisa.

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