Cinque Terre in Pictures
Cinque Terre is a place you see in photos and wonder whether it truly exists in the real world.
In English, the name translates to “Five Lands”, and it’s made up of the five colourful towns that line the north-western coastline of Italy in an area called La Spezia.
I had heard about the Cinque Terre a few years ago while visiting family in the south of Italy. Ever since that day I longed to see it with my own eyes.
I was sitting at a busy bar watching the World Cup in 2010 when I met a young American couple who had spent the past two weeks making their way through Italy. They excitedly divulged envy-inducing details from their trip to date and I eagerly absorbed them.
Of all they had seen and all they had done, it was when speaking of the Cinque Terre that their voices dropped to hushed, revered tones.
“It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen,” she said.
“There’s no place in Italy more breathtaking,” he said.
These were just some of the bolder statements they made about the colourful coastal towns. Although I was actively enjoying a vacation in Italy at the time, I already had plans in place to return to Europe the following year on a three-month backpacking adventure. After this unexpected encounter, I placed the Cinque Terre at the top of my list.
Almost exactly one year later I found myself disembarking from the train at Riomaggiore, one of the more quiet towns in the Cinque Terre.
My first day in Riomaggiore was spent sprawled out on the stony beach soaking up the summer sun, lunching alfresco with fresh seafare and wandering down winding cobbled paths between brightly-coloured facades in the moonlight, gelato in hand.
On day two, I took in views from the sea as I sailed between the five lands of the Cinque Terre, first passing Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza, before disembarking in Monterosso to explore the largest of the five towns.
As with most places that receive praise from passing tourists, the Cinque Terre has become a popular holiday destination for westerners. It’s more common to hear English from visitors and locals alike than native Italian.
But with an explosion of colourful buildings set to a backdrop of rolling hills and clear blue seas, the Cinque Terre is every bit as magical as it seems in photos.