Cinque Terre in Italian translates to “Five Lands”, aptly named because it is comprised of five coastal villages. Driving ourselves posed a bit of a challenge since cars are not allowed in most areas of the villages but luckily we found free parking outside of Cinque Terre in the town of Groppo (white parking spaces are free, blue are paid and yellow are for residents only) a short hike from the village of Manarola. After a 20 minute hike we made it to Manarola, the second village from the south. Just inside the village, we stumbled upon San Lorenzo Church and a clock tower with views of the ocean.
After a little exploring we decided to take the trail towards Corniglia, the next village over, to get some views of Manarola from above. We didn’t have time to hike go all the way to Corniglia but we got some great views of the city and beautiful ocean views. We stopped next to a vineyard for a break and a snack.
After making our way back down the path, we window shopped in Manarola making our way to the waters edge. We had wanted to take the ferry between the villages but the waters were too rough that day so the boats were only running between the first and the last cities. Defeated we headed to the train station and ended up buying a Cinque Terre Card. This card allowed us to ride the train and the local buses all day. At 16 euros it would be paid for with how often we rode the train plus it gave us free access to the bathrooms and wifi at the train stations!
Boarding the train we headed two villages over to Vernazza. Walking down the street we saw a rocky tunnel off to the side (surrounded by safety warnings) with people on the other side. Naturally our curiosity got the better of us and we went through the rock tunnel to find a “secret beach” on the other side. There were many people swimming in the water and basking in the sun!
After some window shopping we headed further down the street to the waters edge. After a few photos and taking in the gorgeous scenery we decided to splurge and have a seafood lunch with a view!
Our next stop was one city over in Monterosso, the northern most village in Cinque Terre. Monterosso is most known for its beaches and the free beaches by the train station were flooded with people. We walked along the shore until we came across the statue of the Giant. The Giant was built in 1910 and now is missing both his arms and a leg as a result of artillery fire in World War II. Turning back the other direction we walked along the shore until we passed through a tunnel to find a gelateria (and other shops) waiting for us on the other side. We settled in with a view of the sea while we enjoyed our final gelato of the trip.
After gelato we hopped back on the train back to Vernazza. We wanted to hike the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso for a view of Vernazza from above but didn’t do it earlier in the day as the sun was high in the sky. After about 10 minutes of walking we reached the postcard view of the city!
After our hike we decided to head back to Manarola for a quick dinner before leaving for the long drive to Milan. Before dinner I took a quick trip to the waterfront to for some last minute pictures. I found a path up the hill and decided to follow it. It led me to my favorite view on Manarola.
For our last meal in Italy knew we had to have pizza, we ordered a few different kinds and shared them family style! After dinner we found a bus to take us back to our car in Groppo (included in our day train pass!). That saved us from a 30 minute hike up hill to our car before the long drive back to Milan for the night. While we only had time to visit three of the five villages on our day trip to Cinque Terre, we are so glad we went out of our way to get a glimpse of these gorgeous villages!