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6 Reasons Why You'll Love Cinque Terre, Italy

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


Ever watched Under the Tuscan Sun and then immediately after, found yourself daydreaming about living in an Italian villa, eating delicious Italian feasts, and wishing you too could experience a magical date somewhere along the Almalfi Coast? If you have, you're not alone. I for one, have had this fantasty ever since first watching the movie as a teen (I mean, who wouldn't want to re-enact scenes from that movie, right?!)

So you can bet that I wanted to vist the Amalfi Coast on our recent family holiday. Unfortunatley though, getting there didn't work with our other plans (and the majority ruled), but I didn't miss out entirely. We were lucky enough to spend time in another part of Italy that is equally as beautiful and charming as the Amalfi Coast…

Let me tell you about Cinque Terre, and why if you're a fellow Under The Tuscan Sun lover, you'll love this place too!

Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands”, is a name given to five gorgeous towns that hug the Ligurian Coastline: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. These small seaside villages are colourful, full of character, and unsurprisingly, we quickly fell in love! Here are 6 reasons why I recommend everyone planning a trip to Italy should add Cinque Terre to their holiday itinerary (and how it can satisfy those Tuscan movie dreams):

1. Location and Easy Access! Only 3 hours from Milan, 2 hours from Florence, and 1 hour from Pisa by train (we travelled with Trenitalia from Firenze S. M. Novella to La Spezia Centrale), Cinque Terre’s proximity to other gorgeous Italian landmarks and cities makes it convenient and enticing to visit (ticking boxes for many people if you're travelling in a group).

It's also super simple to travel between villages once there too, as you can buy single or family day passes via the Cinque Terre train card and use it as a hop-on, hop-off style of transport. There are also ferry services available, plus the option to trek between villages when you buy a trekking card. The trekking does look amazing, so we've added it to our bucket list to go back and hike next time.

On this trip, we stayed in La Spezia, a port city and the gateway to Cinque Terre. Even with the cost of daily train passes (33 euro for singles and 48 euro for a family of four), it was cheaper to stay there and travel into the picturesque villages each day. The train is clean, easy to use, and if you venture out early, you’ll beat the crowds (and the heat!) and be rewarded with prime position on the pebblestone beaches, or with peaceful strolls through slowly waking towns.

BONUS: the train operates until 1am each morning - so during summer, you can enjoy Cinque Terre with kids first up before the crowds descend, skip the midday heat by resting at your accommodation in the middle of the day, then enjoy sunset strolls and dinner with ocean views when the villages are quiet again in the evenings. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!

2. Swims in the Mediterranean Summer in Italy is hot! So to be able to not only see the ocean from each cliffside village, but to also take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea is magical! Which village did we find the best for swimming with kids? Monterosso hands down! While you can swim at public beaches in most towns, we found that the free public beaches would get crowded quickly, and shady spots were limited (not ideal when travelling with young kids). So to be able to access a private beach for our young family was perfect. Yes, it wasn’t cheap (we paid 70 euros for two beach umbrellas, four sun lounge chairs, and prime beach position), but it was worth it. Open from 9am to 7pm, we spent the entire day on that private Monterosso beach, and it turned out to be our favourite day in Cinque Terre! It seems absurd to pay to play on a beach (we never have to pay to enjoy beaches on the Gold Coast!), but once you see how many people visit this place, and how limited beach space is, it makes sense. For the fee, you get beach space and peace of mind (with a private beach guard watching over your belongings when you swim and duck off to grab lunch), plus you have all day to swim in the Mediterranean Sea - which is salty, but oh so good! All you have to do then is simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the magic that Monterosso has on offer. Other great spots to swim if you don't have to cater to young kids?

  • Manarola - if jumping off huge rocks tickles your fancy,

  • Riomaggiore - great for night swims when the crowds have left, or first thing in the morning before they arrive, or

  • Vernazza - for a dip in the harbour by the colourful umbrellas!

3. The Views!

The colourful Italian buildings that cling to the cliffside, the old boats floating on crystal clear turquoise water, and the endless oceanscape… It's beautiful, enchanting, and romantic. It was giving me all the Under the Tuscan Sun / Amalfi Coast vibes! What’s more, these views aren’t rare in Cinque Terre. You’ll find a breathtaking view in every town… The views alone are worth a visit. Seriously, they are a must see!

4. Passionfruit Gelato!

The best gelato I found in all of Italy was the passionfruit gelato from Gelateria Corniglia in Corniglia. One evening, my sister and I took ourselves on a sister’s date to explore this sweet town, and after climbing 400 steps up the hill in Corniglia, that passionfruit gelato really hit the spot. Eating it while strolling through the village to an ocean viewing deck made it taste extra yum!

Now, don’t be put off by the 400 steps climb. It was actually a very civil and gentle walk (we only broke a little sweat), and it didn’t take us long at all. Once you arrive at the top, there are wonderful little shops to explore (I bought five hand painted postcards that I plan to frame and hang in our home), and many wonderful restaurants to dine in.

Eating dinner at La Posada Ristorante under the olive trees, watching the sunset with a view of Manarola in the background was incredible too! I highly recommend it!

5. Date Nights! The sun doesn’t set until around 9pm in Cinque Terre in summer, so with my sister able to babysit the kids, my husband and I were quick to jump on the date night opportunity, with hopes of watching the sun go down. Riomaggiore was the perfect town for this. Swimming in the incredibly cool and clear Mediterranean sea at 8pm at night, watching the sunset from a town that looks like it's from a scene in the Disney movie Luca, and dining in the idyllic harbour restaurant, Dau Cila, drinking delicious Italian wine and eating seafood pasta… in a magical setting like Riomaggiore, it wasn’t hard to create a romantic date night. We had the most amazing time!

6. Incredible People We experienced wonderful hospitality from the people in Cinque Terre… From the lovely staff at Bistrot Mercedes who greeted us for breakfast each morning and generously indulged my sub-par Italian, to the wonderful lady with green nails who checked us into our accommodation at Casa Dane (which was conveniently located right next to the train station)... everyone was lovely! The service and pizza from Pizzeria Masaniello in La Spezia was great too! Not to forget the fellow travellers we met at the local Laundromat – a gorgeous Argentinian couple, John and Graziella - who we had the most wonderful conversations with as we all waited for our laundry to wash and dry. Being in such a gorgeous corner of the world, no wonder everyone we encountered was so friendly. It’s hard to be cranky in Cinque Terre!

If I could rate Cinque Terre, I’d give it a 10 out of 10 star rating! 🌟 Walking along the cobblestone streets, seeing quintessential Italian buildings sprout from the cliffs, speaking Italian, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying quality time as a family… it ticked so many Italian summer holiday boxes, and my teenage movie dreams. As it's said in Under the Tuscan Sun, “I simply fell in love...” If you're planning a trip to Italy and stop by Cinque Terre, I'm confident you'll simply fall in love too... it is magnifica!

Arrivederci for now Cinque Terre. We will see you again soon!

Ciao for now!

Jaleesa x


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