Cinqueterre and Gulf of the Poets

The five earths, in fact, are only the 5 villages Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, which literally hide in the Ligurian cliffs and are only visible from the sea as splashes of colour. We want to expand the area a little and include the southern Gulf of the Poets, with the cities of La Spezia and Lerici and the Portovenere World Heritage Site.

North of the Cinque Terre are the towns of Levanto, Camogli, Rapallo and Portofino, which should be visited as beautiful holiday resorts on a trip.
The Ligurian Riviera is one of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in the world. Expressively rises from the sea with Mediterranean macchia overgrown cliffs. Cheerfully greet the pastel-colored houses huddled close to the slopes to leave an indelible yearning.

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Things to see in the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre National Park

The national park includes from north to south the towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

  • Monterosso al Mare is the largest place of the Cinque Terre and the only one with a wide sandy beach.
  • Vernazza is the most beautiful place with a small protected port and is widely visible with the defensive tower.
  • Corniglia is the middle place and is located on a rocky plateau. It is the only place of the Cinque Terre without a port.
  • What makes Manarola so special is its location on the rock to which the fishing boats are pulled up after the catch.
  • Riomaggiore in the south is particularly impressive to look at from the sea. The houses built steeply on top of each other are impressive.

In the past, the places were only accessible from the sea or after a long hike.

Today, thanks to the rail connection, you can travel from place to place in a few minutes. The train runs almost exclusively through tunnels. If you like it more romantic, be advised there is the boat connection, where you have a wonderful view of the five colourful villages that nestle on the mountain.

There are also narrow serpentine roads to the places. You should allow a lot of time for this. In high season, it’s hard to find a parking space.

Hiking in Cinque Terre

We have often expired the hiking trails in and around the Cinque Terre and know our way around. Most visitors walk the paths between the villages. You have to pay for the preservation of these hiking trails with the “Cinque Terre Card.” For that, you will be rewarded with spectacular views. The paths were slammed into the steep mountain slopes and are very high maintenance. In heavy rain, there are sometimes land slides, so that even a path is temporarily closed until safety is guaranteed again. However, alternative routes are always offered, which are then a little longer.

You can go back by train or by excursion boat.

Less used are the high paths, such as the long-distance hiking trail between Levanto and Portovendere, as well as the paths between the churches above the places, called paths of the Madonnas.

Gulf of the Poets

The Gulf of la Spezia is also known as the Gulf of the Poets. It includes the places

  • Portovenere
  • La Spezia
  • Lerici
  • And the island of Palmaria

La Spezia has a beautiful harbour promenade with a park where palm trees, flowering oleanders and rare ornamental plants grow. Above the pretty old town rises on a small hill the Castello San Giorgio (Castle of St. George), which was built as a defensive castle of the Genovese Maritime Republic.

Portovenere, the port of Venus. Once the temple of Venus stood at the extreme rock, where the goddess of love rose from the sea foam. Today, the small chapel of San Pietro adorns the top of the rock.

The archipelago of the Palmarian Islands consists of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Only from the sea are one to discover the caves of the island of Palmaria. The most famous is the Grotta Azzurra, which can be visited by boat.

Portovenere has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Cinque Terre National Park and the Palmaric Islands.

Lerici already had strategic importance in ancient times and served as a trading port for Greeks, Etruscans, Phoenicians and the Romans. Tranquille squares with villas and narrow streets between the Borghi invite you to linger.

Riviera of Ponente

The most beautiful places north of the Cinque Terre are

  • Sestri Levante
  • Rapallo
  • Santa Margherita Ligure
  • Portofino
  • Camogli

Sestri Levante is beautifully situated on a peninsula on the Gulf of Tigullio, a holiday resort for well-being with a sandy beach, rustic trattoria and a pretty old town.

Rapallo was the city of the rich with many Art Nouveau villas of the Belle Epoch. Rapallo became known for the Peace Treaties, “Peace of Rapallo”

From Santa Margherita Ligure comes the best fish. The place has a large marina for the beautiful and rich.

Those who own a house in Portofino belong to the elite of Italy. The largest yachts roam in the small harbour. One arrives in a private plane or helicopter. Apart from that, you can stroll and eat in Portofino at the harbour or hike to the monastery of San Fruttuoso. It’s faster with the regular boat.

Traditionally, Camogli is a fishing village with its differently painted boats and colourful houses on the coastal promenade. Here you will find the best homemade focaccia.

San Fruttuoso

From Camoglie, just north of the Cinque Terre, there is a connection to San Frutuoso, a monastery that can only be reached on foot or by boat. The ship continues to Portofino then on to Rapallo. In the bay of San Frutuoso, a Jesus is sunk into the sea. You can snorkel over it or dive with your gear.

It is nice to arrive by private boat and simply swim from the boat to shore. Anchor fee is collected by the harbor master, who flits in with a small boat. The sea is deep and blue. The beach is densely occupied in summer. Loungers and parasols are offered and there is a shower in a crevasse. Behind the pebble beach there are two restaurants. One of them in the monastery building.

Behind the monastery, past the monastery church, a footpath leads steeply up to a Rifugio (cabana) with a simple but delicious lunch menu with sweeping views across the bay. You can also arrive in a hike from the road above. It’s really very nice, but the climb takes almost an hour.

Culinary Experiences

Quite typical of the Cinque Terre is the viticulture on the narrow terraces. Even among the Romans, the good white wine was a sought-after hand good.

In addition to hearty fish dishes, Ligurian cuisine offers a few very typical dishes that you should definitely try on site. These include the focaccia, which tastes particularly good in Camogli, the green pesto sauce made from basil and farinata, a kind of pancake made from chickpea flour.

The restaurant is particularly recommended for seafood based dishes.

The typical dish is spaghetti vongole. These are small cockles from the bay of Vernazza.

In the bay of la Spezia you can see the farming areas of mussels (cozze). The cozze from the clean sea taste particularly good.

Our travel tips for a Cinque Terre holiday

Getting there by car

If you can do without the car, you should avoid getting there in your own vehicle. The streets are narrow and consist only of serpentines. Parking spaces are scarcely available and expensive. Even when you arrive on a motorcycle, you won’t find a pitch. Many places are reserved for the residents of the area.

For a day trip, we leave our car in a large parking lot at the train station of Genova or La Spezia and then continue by ship or train.

Getting there by train

The journey is convenient with regular trains from Milan, Genova or La Spezia. They are local trains that stop in all interesting places of the Cinque Terre. So the places are practically connected underground. What takes with the car hours goes so in a few minutes. It’s better only with a private yacht.

Getting there and continuing across the sea

From La Spezia there is a boat connection to Portovenere and from there on to the 5 places of the Cinque Terre. The ships operate like a regular bus and according to a reliable timetable. In darkness, there is an end. Then you’re stuck. Even when a storm is picking up, nothing goes anymore.

La Spezia has a cruise terminal. If all visitors flood the small town at once, it can get tight. Especially on the ships to the Cinque Terre and in the small villages you can feel this.

In Rapallo you can easily rent a boat. At the port you will also find a parking space for your car. You can also rent the smaller boats with outboard engine without a driver license. These are usually inflatable boats. You can only get bigger boats with a boating license or with staff.

When you book your private trip with us, we take care of all that.

Day trips to the area

On a holiday on the Ligurian coast you can plan a trip to nearby Tuscany. The first place in Tuscany is Carrara, known for its white marble. The marble quarries can be visited and an impressive picture of the gravity of the work, the dangers and the enormous interventions in nature.

Don’t miss a taste of the Lardo di Collonata, a bacon ripened in marble boxes.

The port city of Genova has brushed itself out with its old port, where you can find numerous attractions. By train you are in Genova in an hour.

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