Vernazza has the best known photo motif of the Cinque Terre. The small peninsula around the romantic harbor basin with the colorful fishing boats and the ancient castle towers is a symbol of the fascinating beauty of the Cinque Terre.
Vernazza is the site of the Cinque Terre that has best preserved the classy and elegant look and characteristics.
To see the most beautiful in Vernazza, it is good to arrive by boat or from a hike from the mountains.. The defense castle Castello Doria can be seen from a distance, which rises like a bastion over the sea. The cylindrical Belforte tower rises above it and offers visitors who are not afraid of the steps an impressive view. The castle and tower can be visited daily.
On the other side of the town center, the church of Santa Margherita Antiochia, built in 1318 in Gothic-Ligurian style, rises on a rock above the sea, right by the harbor.
Parts of the ancient city walls and towers of the defensive structures of the Genoa Maritime Republic still exist.
The cemetery is in a fantastic position above Vernazza and the church. You can reach it on the way to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Reggio. The climb to the cemetery is worthwhile because of the breathtaking view of Vernazza.
Sanctuary Nostra Signora di Reggio
If you continue on the steep path, you will pass small chapels to the pilgrimage church Nostra Signora di Reggio from the 11th century. It is located in a small park and offers a nice opportunity for a picnic.
The church is only open for services on Sunday afternoon. It houses a picture of the black Madonna and Child.
The pilgrimage churches above the villages of the Cinque Terre are connected to each other by a hiking trail, the Madonna’s Trail.
There are signposted hiking trails between the pilgrimage churches above the five villages of the Cinque Terre.
The route from Nostra Signora di Reggio (Vernazza) to Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Bernardino / Corniglia leads in front at the small housing estate Muro, which is almost 300 m above Vernazza. Muro is an oasis of peace and nature above the lively coastal town of Vernazza, which does not come to rest completely at night due to the train station in the middle of the village and the tourists.
History of Vernazza
The settlement once belonged to the ancient Roman family Gens Vulnetia, who let their slaves work in the steep mountains. After the liberation of the slaves, they founded the place around the protected harbor basin. Wine growing on the terraced vineyards, which are difficult to cultivate, has been known since Roman times.
For the population, the sea meant both supply and danger. Pirates often raided the villages, robbing them of food and women.
In order to protect themselves and for reasons of space, the residents built their houses very close to and above one another. This is how the alleyways, which are romantic, winding and shady from today’s perspective, were created.
Today there are almost 1000 inhabitants in Vernazza. It’s hard to believe when large crowds move through the small town on public holidays.
The houses with their different colors appear friendly and inviting, as do the restaurants and bars, which move their seating outside when the weather is nice. And beautiful weather is almost always in the Cinque Terre.
Especially on weekdays in spring, autumn and even in winter, you can enjoy the beauty of Vernazza in peace on the small piazza by the harbor. Due to the mild sea climate, it is often possible to sit outside in the sun at midday at Christmas.
At the port of Vernazza there is a small sandy beach for swimming. and a landing stage for the ships that regularly connect the locations of the Cinque Terre and Portovenere.
Insider Tips to find a Accommodation
At the weekend there is always hustle and bustle on the only street in town. A shuttle bus runs from the parking lot 20 minutes above the village to the entrance to the village.
The place itself belongs to pedestrians and traders who sell the typical products of the region, from hand-made textiles to wine. Particularly recommended is the Cinque Terre wine, which grows on the steep sunny slopes and is sold by the cooperatives. The grape harvest is a remarkable event, for which the specially constructed Trenini are used. Grape harvest in the Cinque Terre
The best way to get to Vernazza is by train. The train station is located in the middle of the village, where you can also find the tourist information and the Cinque Terre Card.
The 2011 Vernazza flood
On October 25, 2011, a torrential rain caused a flood that caused terrible destruction in Vernazza. This day has gone down in history and the Cinque Terre.
A tidal wave shot over the only steep street towards the place and transformed the otherwise hardly visible brook into a destructive stream. This tore all the vehicles that were in the parking lot above the village into the river and the sea far below. The houses on the narrow street were filled with mud up to the first floor.
Thirteen people died as a result of this flood. Vernazza was completely destroyed.
Within two years, people with a lot of courage and enthusiasm have managed to restore their place. If you walk through Vernazza today, only pictures at the train station and a video remind you of these terrible days.