On the northwest coast of Italy, 10 minutes from La Spezia, the Cinque Terre or ‘Five Lands’ is undeniably popular. So it should be! Made up of five rustic seaside towns (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore), the relaxed atmosphere is tempered with vine-covered hills (olives and grapes) and gorgeous multihued houses that jut straight out of the rocky hillside. Delicious!
Best for: Hiking along the coast, sunning by the Mediterranean, and admiring your surrounding with a glass of vino or limoncino.
Nibbles: It’s nice to be beside the seaside, so dive in to a world of fresh seafood! The region is also famous for its pesto, yummo. Rumour has it that the best bites in the area can be found at Il Pirata (Vernazza), La Lanterna (Riomaggiore), and Trattoria dal Billy (Monterosso). In Corniglia, try the honey gelato, the local staple known as miele de Corniglia. For a morning pastry, hit up Focaccerio Il Frontoio in Moterosso.
Sips: The fruits of the vines of the region find their way in to two locally produced wines: Cinque Terre, a dry white, and sciacchetrà, a super sweet drop. There’s nothing like a glass of icy limoncino, a lemon liqueur, at the end of a long summer day. Try Enoteca 5 Terre di Sassarini Giancarlo in Monterosso for people watching and an amazing wine list.
Experience: There are plenty of hikes around the Cinque Terre region and it’s nigh on mandatory to tackle at least one. The Via dell’Amore (‘the trail of love’) is an easy path to meander, and runs along the coast from Riomaggiore to Manarola. The entire track that covers all five towns takes approximately five hours, with some steep and difficult sections. If you don’t fancy hiking, see Gothic churches dating back to the 13th century, take a ferry ride between the towns, go scuba diving in the Mediterranean, or simply relax on the beaches.
Top tip: When coming on the train, it is often difficult to tell which station to get off at, as they do not always announce them. It’s best to ask.