The Cinque Terre represent one of the best preserved natural and semi-natural areas of the Mediterranean. Historical and geomorphologic reasons have forbidden excessive housing development and the creation of major roadways (which instead are present inland in the Val di Vara). Human activity and especially viticulture, have contributed to create a unique landscape in which development of the typical stone walls is so extensive as to equal that of the famous Great Wall of China. All this, combined with the characteristics of a crystal clear sea, of architecturally interesting locations, of a varied and extensive network of paths (one of the most enviable in the whole Mediterranean), makes the Cinque Terre an increasingly sought after location among Italian and foreign tourists. This is not so much the result of a successful promotional campaign but rather the spontaneous recognition of the uniqueness of the place, of its beauty, of the enjoyment one gets from staying in or visiting it.
A tourist’s perspective:
It’s important to remark that the Cinque Terre are not a classic touristic resort…particularly in Manarola and Corniglia everything has remained as in the past, no adjustments to the new touristic bent of these towns; local people’s life has been influenced by tourism only in marginal aspects. These are, with no doubt, the main features of the Cinque Terre: a very different dimension, so distant from the towns’s stress as from the “all inclusive paradises” where everything is carefully planned and organized.
Of course this uniqueness requires some sacrifices: difficulties in moving and parking, lack of services, tiring up and down hikes… After all the Cinque Terre aren’t suitable for everybody; not for the ones who like (and it’s a very respectable point of view indeed) exclusively a comfortable and served holiday… We don’t want to run the risk that the tourist may expect something different from reality; but we well know that who loves the Cinque Terre would’t desire them to be different from what they are!
Monterosso‘s main features are the beach and the seaside; more than the others it’s a small touristic resort with some nightlife. This different feel complements the quietness of Manarola and Corniglia. Very suggestive the ‘carruggi’ (small streets) of Monterosso Vecchio; wide spaces and some car trafic in Fegina and on the seaside.
Vernazza has been for several years the main point of attraction of Cinque Terre, together with Monterosso. The views are spectcular, from the sea as well as from the paths. The vital center of Vernazza is located in the square abutting the harbour and everything is very concentrated. Thus, the over-crowding may prove excessive for the fastidious, especially those who choose to stay the night.
Corniglia is a quiet pleasant place; just a little bit convenient to the sea, by reason of the elevated location, but on the other hand the views are spectacular from many points of it.
Manarola has to be consider the quitest of the five towns. Even in full season one can always appreciate the peacefulness of its streets and the relaxing walks on the short paths surrounding the village. A ‘must see’ is the big illuminated Nativity on the hill in front of the houses: more than 200 figures and 12.000 lamps for the biggest lighted nativity in the world! It remains ligthed from December 8th till the end of January.
Riomaggiore hosts the chief seat of Cinque Terre National Park, evidenced by an intensive promotional activity in the whole town. The upper part of the town is characterized by new modern residential quarter, whereas the ‘carruggi’ departing from the central street Via Colombo and from the marina are the most particular in Cinque Terre. Very suggestive the shot of the marina, surrounded by high tower-houses and impregnable to the ancient pirates of the Ligurian Sea. Wonderful views from the castle.