Photography by Brianne Lee

Photography by Brianne Lee

Five Lands

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

For Easter weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Meghan and her parents to five enchanting villages along the Italian Riviera.
Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) is a cluster of five coastal towns nestled into steep, terraced hillsides along the western coast of Italy, just north of Tuscany. No cars, no modern constructions – just sheer old world charms! The villages are connected by ferries, trains and networks of breathtaking hiking trails. There’s a coastal hike that connects the five towns, which from south to north are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

The five towns look as though they defy gravity for a start. It is as though someone threw a bunch of houses at the cliffs and somehow managed to get them to stick and form little towns.

We stayed in the southernmost of the five villages, Riomaggiore. This town seemed to be one long road going uphill from the coast full of tall, colorfully painted, buildings with lots of quaint shops and seafood restaurants.

The first day started out to be a rainy one so spent the majority of the day exploring and eating our way through each town. (Our goal was to try a different food in each town. I’d say we accomplished that task!) Each village was beautiful and unique in their own way. People are passionate about life in Cinque Terre with their local farms, gardens, seafood business, and dedication to their families.

We took full advantage of the sunny weather on Sunday and set off to day of hiking! Without a doubt any guide you will ever read, any traveler you will ever encounter, and any local you will ever meet will tell you to hike the Cinque Terre. The view is beyond breathtaking. Each town is situated in a, perfectly picturesque, manner, which allows it to shine among the natural landscape while looking so natural it is as if they grew from the ground itself.

The hike was glorious, but challenging (in a good way). Textbook-perfect weather with lots of bright sun and blue skies. The views were beyond spectacular, with each of the Cinque Terre’s villages revealing themselves to be unique in character, but unified in charm. 

In essence, the views will take your breath away, you will feel more connected to the towns and the lands between them, and you will feel overwhelmingly accomplished when you reach the final town and collapse on the train back to your starting point.

It is no surprise that I fell in love with the Cinque Terre. I adored the distinctive puzzle piece houses built on terraces up the mountainside. The secret passages and hidden alleyways enchanted me, as did the coastal walks and breathtaking views. And the food? I’m still dreaming about the best seafood, pasta, bread and gelato I have ever tasted. I definitely look forward to returning here someday!


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