Cliffside Charm in Cinque Terre, Italy

Article by Andrea Larson

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We began in Germany, made it to Switzerland, drove through the Swiss Alps, dropped the car in Pisa, and took a train from Monterosso to Vernazza. This place/town is like nothing I have ever seen before. Vernazza is basically one street of shops and restaurants, loaded with culture and everything you expect small-town Italy to be. Loads of color, cobblestone streets, laundry hanging out of every window, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Vernazza is one of the quaintest places I have ever seen. 

We were in Vernazza for the longest part of the trip, and it was so relaxing and so special. There are no hotel rooms, so you stay in small little homes. Christian, the owner of the home we stayed in, is a young guy, full of character, and grew up in Vernazza. He knows everyone and has become a bit of a local “celebrity” after a mention in one of Rick Steve’s Italy books. 

The home we stayed in was at the very top of the town, so every time we had to go up or down it became quite the workout. It was worth it for the views we woke up to every morning. This was the view off of our balcony. All open windows and no screens, so we had the pleasure of hearing the waves crashing in all night (and fighting seagulls every morning). 

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Cinque Terre is a portion of coast off the Italian Riviera and is made up of five little towns: Corniglia, Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernazza. 

We chose Vernazza because my sister and Nate had been here before and they fell in love with the town and the people and the relaxed atmosphere. Each town is tucked away, surrounded by gorgeous mountains. This is a shot from the town’s edge looking out to a cove that connects the Mediterranean.

We continued to do what we love to do…eat, drink, stroll, take in the culture, laid out on the rugged rocks, rented a boat, enjoyed each other’s company, and soaked in each and every moment.

I think I ate a Nutella croissant every morning for eight days!!! Cinque Terre is known for their basil and pesto and focaccia bread (which we also had our fair share of). 

Apologies on the no make-up shot! The cappuccinos were so delicious…

The guys did some rock jumping. And we did some wading…the Mediterranean is rocky so just getting into our knees was work!

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    Here is a view of the town from a different angle. You can see all the colored homes and how compact everything is. And these are the rocks that everyone lays out on and kids play all around the shallow waters. Huge boulders make a perfect spot to lay, share some wine, eat some focaccia, and generally relax. The backdrop is a sight to be seen!

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    From this shot, you can see the church right on the edge. The bells toll every hour and half hour. The local school is the pink building on the top right. Christian told us that seven students currently attend there. That is how small the town is!  When you go to high school, you have to take the train into La Spezia.


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    We rented a boat for a few hours one day. We had absolutely fantastic weather and the ocean was turquoise. Gorg! We found a little cove with a large waterfall that the guys decided to swim over to. The girls decided we would just hang by the boat.

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    This is a view from the boat of where we stayed. We stayed on the right hand side (where the umbrellas are). Positive perfection.

    Because we were staying in a seaside town, ordering seafood was a must. This was a steaming, hot crock of seafood risotto, and the restaurant was right in the middle of a walkway that led you up and down to people’s homes. I’m telling you, it doesn’t get much more quaint than this. 

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      Cinque Terre is known for its hiking trails to and from each of the five towns. We decided to do an early morning hike from Vernazza to Monterosso. You start out right in town and wind your way up and down the mountains to the next town over. I think it took us about two hours, and the views were incredible. I’m so glad we went in the morning because we were drenched and I also had a couple of doubts with height issues, so the less crowded, the better for me!

        We made it to Monterosso, and we laid out on the beach for about an hour and then walked around town. Monterosso is much more “touristy”, and larger, but it is a gorgeous town. This church blew my mind. I was in stripe and pattern and black and white heaven.

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        We stayed in Monterosso for a few hours and took the train back to Vernazza….so we could do this…for hours on end…

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        This was a pic from our final night in Vernazza. I think it pretty much sums it up our time. Happy and relaxed and grateful for the opportunity and experience. 

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        Follow Andrea Larson at @lifelovelarson

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