I like to think of the villages of Cinque Terre as five brothers. Stay with me and you’ll get what I’m saying. Let’s pretend these five brothers are called the Nelson Brothers. They all have similar physical features; you can tell they came from the same set of parents. They may have shared interests and hobbies. They eat from the same kitchen, shop at the same stores, have the same barber. In certain contexts, the Nelson Brothers may be nearly impossible to differentiate! But then you start dating one of said brothers and get “in” with his family. You quickly learn how unique each brother is and, although you still mix up their names from time-to-time, you know exactly what it is you love about each one of them and what makes each one stand out. Due to the close proximity of the Cinque Terre villages, they are often clumped together as one destination, but the beautiful thing you discover after visiting, is how special and unique each village is. Each one has something different to offer.
So to summarize our trip to Cinque Terre, we thought we’d rank the villages and share what it is we loved about each one, or why we didn’t love some. We shall start with our least favorite village:
5. Corniglia is situated right smack-dab in the middle of the other villages and maaaaan does it live up to what they say about “the middle child” ;) This was the only village that was not on the water, but rather was at the top of a cliff. There were a few affittacameres and cafes, but that was about it. And did I mention the umpteen amount of stairs we had to hike from the trainstop to the top?! #notworthit #feeltheburn.
4. Riomaggiore was hard to find when you don't know where you are going. When you get off the train, you can either walk up a sidewalk to the left or right through a tunnel. In order to get to the part with the view of the colorful homes, you must walk right, through the tunnel. We missed out on Riomaggiore the first time we visited because a little girl directed us up and to the left. We made our way up and behind the homes and had a stunning view of the water, but we were actually looking for the view from the sea as opposed to of the sea. We tried again on our last night there and were pleasantly surprised with all it had to offer. It was just slightly grungier than our top three villages, and it was one of the larger ones with lots of locals, limiting touristy options slightly.
3. Manarola was incredibly photogenic! It was easy to get a view from the water because they have a paved pathway that curves around out over the water, making it simple to take in the beauty of Manarola. There were also lots of eating options right on the water! We considered taking a day trip to Portofino while we were in Cinque Terre, and the boats for that leave from here.
2. Vernazza really stole our hearts immediately, and for a couple reasons. We arrived at our hotel early in the evening and only had time to see one village that first night. After looking at pictures we had screen-shotted from other peoples Instagrams, we agreed on Vernazza. As we got of the train, the sun was setting and our jaws just dropped! It was quiet and beautiful and romantic and quaint. The village lights and setting sun reflecting off the water was indescribable! We also had the most amazing dinner that night and the cutest Italian waiter. The whole night was really picture-perfect. One of those moments I will always go back to in my mind. From our whole trip to Europe, I think I was the happiest in that moment.
1. Monterosso is built more horizontally than the other villages, which makes it fun to just stroll through (think California boardwalk, except 10x better because ITALY). It also has a relatively large sandy beach with calm water. We spent the most time in Monterosso solely because the beach made such a wonderful place to relax AND we found the most amahzing seafood restaurant of our lives!!!!!! We ate there two nights in a row it was that freaking good! The restaurant is called Il Casello. Order the seafood spaghetti. And make your date order the ravioli. And then share.
Long story short, if we could only date one of the brothers-- I mean, villages-- we would pick Monterosso! But since they aren’t brothers, and are easily accessible villages, you don’t have to pick just one.
Have you been to Cinque Terre? Which one looks the most appealing to you?