To experience a sunset in Cinque Terre is to admire a live painting of changing colors before your eyes. I’m sharing my favorite Cinque Terre hotspot and a few lady travel tips with insider photographs of this must-see destination.
Cinque Terre consists of five small villages (“cinque terre” means “five lands” in Italian) which is where colorful houses and vineyards cling to the Ligurian cliffs along Italy’s western coast, also known as the Italian Riviera. Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach the villages from the outside. Luckily, this territory was long isolated and the characteristics of Ligurian culture has been conserved. The five villages were only reached by the outside world about one hundred years ago, when the railway line was built.
The inherent beauty and unique “untouched nature” of these seaside fishing villages make Cinque Terre an extremely popular tourist destination. Several fellow travelers urged me not to stop here because it is often overcrowded with aggressive tourists. However, I was too intrigued by the vibrant colors of homes built upon cliffs to pass at the opportunity. This lady was going to see it for herself.
Getting to Cinque Terre is quite easy. I highly reccomend parking your car in La Spezia early in the morning (the parking lot fills up fast) and grab a Cinque Terre Card from the main train station here. From La Spezia you can easily visit all 5 villages in just one day if you so choose, as the train zips from village to village daily. Here is how long it takes to get between each village by the train/shuttle:
- La Spezia – Riomaggiore 9 minutes
- Riomaggiore – Manarola 2 minutes
- Manarola – Corniglia 4 minutes
- Corniglia – Vernazza 5 minutes
- Vernazza – Monterosso 5 minutes
- Monterosso – Levanto 5 minutes
After purchasing a train pass at the station in La Spezia, we went off exploring the five villages, stopping along the way only for a dip in the brisk ocean waters, picture perfect moments and glasses of local vino. Planning ahead, I knew that I wanted to wrap up the day with front row seats to a sunset over this precious part of the world. With a bit of research, I found my answer. We saved the best for last – the village of Manarola.
Nessun Dorma in Manarola
I found Manarola to be the most classic of the Cinque Terre villages, in that it was the most colorful village of the five and offered a lively environment of bars, restaurants and seaside life. We climbed the windy dirt path up the hill to find a legendary wine bar I had on my “go to list” – Nessum Dorma. Here you can grab a table overlooking the colorful homes on cliffs, the ocean and of course, take in a magical sunset. The menu at Nessum Dorma boasts a variety of local wines, refreshing cocktails and small bites including olives, crostinis and flat breads. Yes, a glass of wine may be a euro more pricey than those offered at the bars down under the cliffs, but the extra premium is worth every penny for priceless views. A sunset here is to experience live art, the richness of color and the tranquility of simple life. With bustling cars and street lamps many miles away, this world wonder facilitates the ultimate environment for a romantic evening spent gazing out at a setting sun. Each time the sun shifts lower, the palate of color reflected in the crowded homes along the coast change drastically. Starting off vibrant with hints of gold as the sun stands high in the sky, the pinks and yellows become more defined as deeper shades in contrast to the darkening backdrop of the sky. To add entertainment to the evening, a local cat grabbed the table right next to us and tried to order a beer. Don’t believe me? See for yourself in my personal photographs below.
Convenient Phrases for Cinque Terre
- Hello – Ciao
- How are you – Come va?
- Goodbye – Ciao
- May I have – Posso avere? –
- Thank you – Grazie
- You’re welcome – Prego
- Pardon me – Mi scusi
- I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo italiano
- Do you speak English – Parla inglese?
- Where is the bathroom – Dov’è la toilette?
Additional Cinque Terre Recommendations
- Ristorante Mikey (Monterosso)
- Cappun Magru (Manarola)
- Vertical Bar (Riomaggiore)
- Lunch Box (Vernazza
- La Lanterna (Riomaggiore)
- Gambero Rosso (Vernazza)
- Cappun Magru Cappun Magru (taxi ride from Manarola)
Final Lady Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes and Athleisure – there is a lot of walking, and a lot of hills
- Do not try to drive a car directly to the villages – there is absolutely NO parking, trust me, we tried
- Try anything with pesto – they are famous for it here
- Have a meal involving seafood – I tried the linguine with clams
- Visit all five villages – each village has something unique to offer
- Put your feet in the sand and go for a dip in the water – Monterosso is the largest and the only village with a proper beach
- Get a cocktail at the bar this post features – Nessun Dorma
- And of course, make time to stop and enjoy the sunset
Until the next sweet escape.