This post continues our time in Italy.
Before leaving for our trip, we had decided that we would visit the villages by train…so I had pre purchased our train tickets prior to arriving.
However, it’s not necessary to pre purchase your tickets, but if you want to avoid standing in long lines, I would recommend you purchase them prior to arriving.
Also, if you purchase them online, you won’t have to worry about validating your tickets before boarding the train.
We purchased the Cinque Terre train card that included unlimited train travel, access to the two hiking trails that charge a fee, use of the bus service within the park (Cinque Terre is located in a national park) and a reduced admission to the Civic Museums in La Spezia.
You can purchase either a 1 day hike/train combo (18.20 euros pp), 2 day (33 euros pp) or 3 day (47 euros per person) We chose the 3 day pass since we would be in Cinque Terre for 3 full days.
Tip: from November 7 until the end of March, you do not need to buy a Cinque Terre card as all hiking paths are free. Instead, it’s recommended that you buy single train tickets. In winter a one-way ticket between two villages costs about 2.50 euros.
We chose to stay in Monterosso because it’s the flattest of all the five villages. It it also the largest village.
If you have mobility issues, you may want to choose this location as well.
Monterosso also has the best beaches of all the five villages.
It’s also one of the best places to stay for visiting the other 4 villages.
As you can see from this map, if you get on a train or boat in Monterosso, you can easily see the other villages in order instead of backtracking.
We started our morning with coffee on our balcony!
We then headed downstairs to have breakfast.
The tiny elevator in the hotel!
Once again, the breakfast at our hotel was abundant
After breakfast, we headed back to our room…on the way, we decided to check out the rooftop terrace.
The terrace was awesome and had amazing views! We spent a lot of time on the terrace during our stay!
We stayed at the Albergo Degli Amici in room 448 ….the rooftop terrace was steps away from our room.
After leaving our hotel, we headed to check out some of the sights in Monterosso.
Our first stop was the black and white striped church called La Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista.
Read reviews here
Tip: Click here for churches in Cinque Terre
The church was constructed under Genoese maritime republic rule between 1244 and 1307.
It is a splendid example of Ligurian Gothic architecture with its alternating black and white stripes of marble and serpentinite.
The church’s facade presents a notably large rose window above the entrance door.
The interior is black and white marble and houses a collection of sculptures and paintings.
After leaving the church, we walked down to the beach for a quick pic.
Monterosso is divided into two areas….old town and new town.
Our hotel was located in the old town so you have to walk through a tunnel to get to the new town called Fegina.
Of course, this is where you will find the beautiful Fegina Beach!
Tip: For 25 euros, you can rent two sun beds and a parasol for the day on Monterosso’s most popular beach, Fegina Beach.
Since the train station is located here, we decided to head to the next village over called Vernazza.
The train ride to Vernazza takes approx 4-5 min.
Tip: Make sure you are on the right platform and be sure to validate your train ticket (no need for this if you have an electronic ticket). There are fines if you don’t do this.
Vernazza, like the other villages, is very colorful!
It is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Every Tues there is an outdoor market in Vernazza that sells all sorts of things from cheese, vegetables, seafood, fruits, etc.
Tip: Don’t miss seeing Eros Lombardo, the singing florist…he’s usually at the market on Tues. He’s a florist by day and opera singer at night.
We came across this painting and would have loved to purchase it but had no way to get it home!
We made our way down to the beach.
The beach is small but perfectly formed. This is the place to go if you’re after sand, calm water and convenience.
This is also the location of the Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church.
Mentioned for the first time in 1318, the church stands on a rock overlooking the sea. The octagonal tower, 40 meters high, is crowned by small arches and ends with an ogival dome.
My husband spotted a jellyfish in the water as we were standing near the beach.
A shot of the church and harbor
Next we headed up to the stairs where the popular Belforte Restaurant is located just to check out the views.
The climb up was no joke!
But the views were worth it!
From here, we decided to wander through the narrow alleyways and just “get lost”.
It’s a great way to find little hidden gems and to escape the crowds!
A shot of one of the tables at the very popular Belforte Restaurant.
Views from one of the alleyways……You can see Tower of the Doria Castle in the distance.
Read reviews for the tower here
The tower was built in the 15th century to protect the village from pirates and is located above the small port of Vernazza.
In 1284, the fortress was occupied by the invading forces of Pisa during the Battle of Meloria, ultimately won by the Genoese.
The fortress was once again used for military purposes during World War II when German forces used it as an anti-aircraft station.
The trail you can hike between the villages.
Click here for the 10 best hikes in Cinque Terre
The village is surrounded by very steeply-terraced olive groves which are said to produce among the finest olive oil in the country.
As you walk along the trail, you will come to an amazing overlook!
Click here for the best photography areas in Cinque Terre
Of course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity of having our picture taken in this incredible location!
Tip: Make sure to wear really comfortable, stable shoes on the very uneven trails!
Be prepared to walk a ton of stairs!
We ended up at the Church of Santa Margherita so we decided to go inside.
The church was built in 1318 and has undergone many restorations during that time.
It’s very simple with contrasting brick columns and walls. Inside, there are a few statues, carvings, and paintings.
After leaving the church, we headed back down to the beach.
My hubby loves looking for unique rocks when we go on vacation.
After spending a couple of hours in Vernazza, we decided to head to the next village, Corniglia.
It takes less then 5 mins to arrive by train
Arriving to Corniglia
A shot of the train tracks that run alongside the sea
Corniglia is the only village that isn’t built directly on the sea but on a cliff 100 meters above sea level.
It is probably the most genuine town of the five villages and has the least amount of tourists.
After exiting the train, you will have to walk a bit before arriving to the Ladarina Staircase that leads up to the village.
There are 382 stairs to the top!
Tip: There is a shuttle bus that will take you to the top as well…cost is 1.50 euros or free if you purchased the Cinque Terre Card. The bus runs every 5-8 mins.
The village is surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces.
The architecture here is closer to that of a rural inland village than that of a coastal village.
I think I ended up ordering the pistachio and lemon or the basil and lemon…regardless, it was delicious!
After eating our gelato, we continued our walk through Corniglia.
I loved all of the cute little alleyways.
There are so many great photo opportunities in these colorful villages.
We spotted the oratory of the Disciplinati di Santa Caterina.
Unfortunately, the door was locked so we couldn’t go inside.
Read reviews here
Next, we headed to the Parish of San Pietro
The plaque on the façade bearing the date 1334, indicates the year of the beginning of the construction of the building.
The inside was very ornate with lots of murals painted on the ceilings.
Read reviews here
Near the church was a really good place to take a picture of the village.
I was having to shoot towards the sun so my pics weren’t the best.
Over the past 20 years, some of the independent grape growers have installed miniature cogwheel railways that snake through the vineyards to be loaded with grapes by the pickers.
This innovative system of moving the ripe grapes to collection points is designed specifically for use on steep grades.
After spending about 1.5 hrs here, we headed back down the stairs to catch the train to Manarola.
On the way down, my hubby just had to get his picture with this little old Italian man that was playing an accordion.
Waiting for the train
There were so many people visiting Cinque Terre while we were there!
We had heard there were lots of cruise ships docked in La Spezia and that’s why the villages were so crowded!
La Spezia is less then 10 mins by train to Riomaggiore.
Tip: Check out the cruise ship schedules here
The train ride to Manarola takes about 5-6 mins.
After arriving to Manarola, you have to walk through a tunnel to arrive to the village.
Manarola is one of the most famous villages of the scenic Cinque Terre.
As soon as we arrived, we headed to a very popular restaurant called Trattoria dal Billy.
Read reviews here
Tip: To get to this restaurant you must climb LOTS of stairs so be prepared!
We arrived approx 20-25 mins prior to the restaurant closing but they went ahead and seated us.
Tip: Click here for hours and the days they are open. It is imperative that you make a reservation if you want to have dinner here. A lot of restaurants will only serve lunch from 12-3 and dinner from 7-11.
The server we had was not very friendly….he told us that we needed to hurry up and order because the kitchen was waiting on us.
At that point, I really just wanted to get up and leave but we were hungry so we decided to stay.
To make it easy, we both ended up just ordering the pesto pasta.
The food was good but the views were even better!
After lunch, we spent some time walking through the alleyways.
The views were incredible!
After a few mins of walking, we reached the main shopping area.
Manarola is the second-smallest of the five towns of the Cinque Terre.
Although there is no real beach here, it has some of the best deep-water swimming around.
We spotted a guy jumping from one of the rocks!
There is a trail that connects Manarola to both Riomaggiore and Corniglia.
Some of the best views of the villages are from the trails.
After walking around for a while, we spotted a little restaurant that sold the very popular focaccia bread so we just had to purchase some!
Tip: This restaurant did offer gluten free. They also only took cash.
Since we had just eaten lunch, we decided to save it for later.
After our purchase, we headed to the last village, Riomaggiore.
The train ride takes approx. 5 mins.
The colorful houses of Manarola seem to tumble down to its small harbor on the bright blue Ligurian Sea, making it one of the most photographed of the Cinque Terre’s picturesque villages.
Click here for things to do in Riomaggiore
We decided to walk down to the rocks below and take a few pictures.
The views from here are amazing and it’s a very popular area for pictures!
From here, we walked back up the stairs and took a few more pics of those colorful houses!
After admiring the views, we walked around the small village for a while.
It was so hot while we were there that we found ourselves buying lots of water!.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have water with you as it is very hot and you will be doing a lot of walking! You can dehydrate quickly!
They were selling these octopus in the store….yuck!
Click here for the 10 foods to try while in Cinque Terre
We decided to stop for more gelato before heading back to Monterosso.
Waiting for the train to Monterosso
After a 20 min train ride, we were back in Monterosso.
Tip: If you are leaving Riomaggiore and heading towards Monterosso, get on the train that goes toward Sestri Levante. If you are coming from Monterosso and visiting the villages, get on the train headed towards La Spezia. Also, while on the train, it lets you know when and where it’s stopping.
A shot of Fegina Beach
Walking back to our hotel
After spending all day visiting the 5 villages, we arrived back to our hotel and spent a few minutes relaxing on our balcony before heading out to dinner.
After heading back out, we quickly discovered that most of the restaurants were packed and had long wait times to be seated!
I would definitely make reservations if you have a specific restaurant you are wanting to eat at.
After walking around for a bit trying to decide on somewhere to eat, we spotted a restaurant called, Al Carugio that had a short wait line so we decided to eat here.
We ended waiting about 45 – 60 mins for a table.
After being seated, they handed us the menu board to look over.
We ordered the anchovies as an appetizer.
The anchovies of Monterosso are famous all over Italy.
They were very good!
For my main dish, I ordered the ravioli and the hubby ordered the lasagna.
The food was delicious!!
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night!
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Day 7!