bliss: blɪs/ noun – perfect happiness
Italy is bliss. It’s the only word I can come up with to try to adequately describe the way I feel here. The scenery, the architecture, the endless art and sculptures, the cathedrals & churches, the language, the Vespas, the gelato, the food, oh my stars the food. Fresh pasta, divine pestos, the smell of garlic everywhere, fresh tomatoes, caprese salad, mozrella so delicious you wouldn’t even believe, pizza, pizza, pizza….I could go on for hours about the food. Italy is simply bliss.
After Joe and I blitzed Rome in 3 days we headed to the picturesque region of Cinque Terra. The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. It is composed of five coastal fishing villages dramatically set a top cliff sides directly overlooking the sea. The bright colors of the houses and buildings makes it stand out off the coast in a bold way. Cars are banned in the villages but you can easily get around with the convenience of frequent trains and ferries. It’s a definite touristy place now so more than it used to be but who really cares? It’s beyond gorgeous.
We took a train from Roma to La Spezia. The train was about four and a half hours through the Tuscany region directly on the coast. We passed coast towns on the Italians riviera to our left and the rolling hills of Tuscany on our right as the sun was setting. It was breathtaking.
We stayed just outside of the Cinque Terra in La Spezia. It was a 10 minute train ride to the first of the five towns in Cinque Terra. It is difficult to find a nice and affordable place directly in Cinque Terra because the towns are so small, so we settled for La Spezia. However, we loved La Spezia, it’s a quaint Italian coast town and it was a perfect place to stay! We stayed directly on the city square at a bed and breakfast about a ten minute walk from the train station which made it perfect to get to Cinque Terra easily. Definitely would recommend this for anyone looking to save a bit of money without very much inconvenience at all.
Our two days in Cinque Terra weren’t overly planned and it was just lovely taking in all the scenery, food, and culture. Joe and I only went to two of the five towns in Cinque Terra because we didn’t want to rush through them all, we wanted to really enjoy a couple of them. We had planned to go to 3-4 of the towns but only ended up in Vernazza and Manorola because we loved them so much. We explored Vernazza which was very beautiful but very crowded. We went off the beaten path and climbed the steep steps and winding alleys of the residential areas to find some secluded and breathtaking views of the riviera. We found the food to be better in Vernazza than Manorola, we ate fresh shrimp for lunch, focaccia bread, and pesto pizza on a bench staring out at the Italian riviera. Again, BLISS.
Manorola was our favorite of the two towns though, it was smaller than Vernazza and much less crowded. There were places to jump off that rocks and take a swim, benches to sit on and read, and more beautiful scenery to take in. We sat and read for hours on the top of a hill overlooking the town, explored, hiked around, and of course ate some more 🙂
If you could get on a jet anywhere right now I’d make it Cinque Terra! The small towns were breathtakingly rejuvenating. Something I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Dreaming of going to Italy now? Good! Our goal is not only to share our travels and tips but to inspire others to travel also. Check out how we made this trip possible and tips to get you traveling soon here.
Cinque Terra Tips:
-Several of the hiking trails are periodically closed so we had planned a couple hikes in between towns and the trails were closed, just something to keep in mind – your plans will have to be flexible.
-The Cinque Terra pass is 12 euro per person per day. This includes unlimited trains and trails between towns. This is really only worth it if you are going to four or more towns as a train ticket is only about 2 euro per person from each town. Or if you plan to do a lot of hiking, we had planned on buying the pass but with the trails all closed but one we decided to just buy individual train tickets between the towns and saved over 15 euro. However we took it easy and weren’t set on rushing from town to town so it worked for us. We were able to hike a free trail just outside Manorola which was lovely right along the coast.
-We took trains exclusively from La Spezia but you can also very easy take a ferry from La Spezia port to any of the towns in Cinque Terra.
-Get to the towns early, and stay late. It makes for long days but it is so worth it. We arrived early in the morning to Vernazza and it was just starting to be crowded, by the time we left there in the afternoon you could barely walk through the streets. Manorola was much less crowded but we stayed until after dark and it was practically deserted after 4-5pm apart from a few locals. It was so much nicer when all the tourists left!!!
-Find a way to get to Cinque Terra as soon as possible, like, as SOON as possible 🙂