The Five Star Vagabond

Super travel tips, all road tested by David Herd. I'm an Australian guy who moved to Thailand in 2011 & still travel the world as often as possible.


Italy fantastic seaside villages

Italy fantastic seaside villages, how many words could I write about this wonderful country & colorful people? The music, the wine, the villages, the food, I could go on and on. However words alone won’t do Italy justice, just go there and experience the joy this wonderful country will bring you. Hopefully in this post you will find a few travel tips for Italy to help you plan your own Italian adventure.

David Herd in Italy

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Italy was not a united country until 1870. Before this time, the country was a group of separate states ruled by France, Spain, Austria and other foreign countries. There were many attempts to unify the country but all of these failed until 1860 when Guiseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) formed an army of volunteer soldiers to drive out the foreign rulers. Garibaldi’s soldiers became known as the ‘red shirts’ because they all wore bright red shirts. The red shirts soon took over all the states except Rome and Venetia, and in 1861, the states joined together to become one country called Italy. 

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My favourite part of Italy is the Cinque Terre, which is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare,Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.

Manarola, Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Manarola, built on a high rock 70 metres above sea level, is one of the most charming and romantic of the Cinque Terre villages.The tiny harbor features a boat ramp, picturesque multicoloured houses facing the sea, a tiny piazza with seafood restaurants.


Italy fantastic seaside villages


These villages are magnificent, have not changed in centuries.


Italy fantastic seaside villages

Manarola is a small town, a frazione of the comune of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. It is the second smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists. Wikipedia

Lovely Manarola restaurant

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Manarola is connected to Riomaggiore by the famous Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane); a footpath carved into the rocks above the sea. Other popular sites are the Church of San Lorenzo built in 1338 in Gothic Ligurian style, and the defence tower.

Italy fantastic seaside villages Manarola

Manarola seaside village Cinque Terre Italy


If you love photography this is the place to be.

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Italy fantastic seaside villages


Exploring the five villages properly takes at least five days.

Looking toward Manarola from Corniglia

Italy fantastic seaside villages


The villages seem to just cling to the land.

Vernazza at night.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


First records recognizing Vernazza as a fortified town date back to the year 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility, it was a likely point of departure for naval forces in defence of pirates.

Over the next two centuries, Vernazza was vital in Genova’s conquest of Liguria, providing port, fleet, and soldiers. In 1209, the approximately 90 most powerful families of Vernazza pledged their allegiance to the republic of Genova. 

In the 1400s, Vernazza focused in its defense against the dreadful and regularly occurring pirate raids, erecting a fortifying wall. In the mid-1600s, like many of the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza suffered a period of decline that negatively affected wine production, and prolonged the construction of the trail system and harbor molo (pier constructed to protect against heavy seas).

In the 1800s, after a long period of stagnation, Vernazza returned to wine production, enlarging and creating new terraced hillsides. The result was a revitalization of Vernazza’s commerce. Also at this time, the construction of the Genova–La Spezia rail line began, putting an end to Vernazza’s long isolation. The population of Vernazza increased by 60% as a result. Meanwhile, the construction of La Spezia’s naval base also proved important to Vernazza in providing employment for many members of the community.


Italy fantastic seaside villages


Vernazza was a great choice for our home base.

Great seafood in Vernazza.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Italian seafood at its finest.

Italy fantastic seaside villages Vernazza

Italy fantastic seaside villages


I climbed the many steps to have dinner at the restaurant.

Check out this short video on Vernazza

Main St Vernazza

Italy fantastic seaside villages


I think Vernazza was my favourite village because we spent more time there.

My Australian friends, Jodie O’Neill & Deborah Holliday

Italy fantastic seaside villages


The gorgeous bar lady here poured me the best shots of Jack Daniels I have ever had, they were triples, and Deb & Jodie said I consumed five. I said, “well who the hell is counting.” 🙂

Morning meeting in Riomaggiore.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Hard to pronounce but who cares. 🙂


Italy fantastic seaside villages


The village, dating from the early thirteenth century, is known for its historic character and its wine, produced by the town’s vineyards. Riomaggiore is in the Riviera di Levante region and has shoreline on the Mediterranean’s Gulf of Genoa, with a small beach and a wharf framed by tower houses. Riomaggiore’s main street is Via Colombo, where numerous restaurants, bars and shops can be found. The Via dell’Amore is a path connecting Riomaggiore to its frazione Manarola, also part of the Cinque Terre. Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre, all connected by trail. The water and mountainside have been declared national parks.


Italy fantastic seaside villages


Every village has something different to offer.


Italy fantastic seaside villages


These fishing villages have not changed in centuries.

Riomaggiore workshop

Italy fantastic seaside villages

These villages are close to Portofino, & Camogli, both well worth a visit.  

David Herd relaxing in Coniglia Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


For me this is the most interesting part of Italy.

 Corniglia bar

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Small cafe tucked away in a courtyard.

So peaceful and quiet.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


What a great setting for a coffee and a cake.

Monterosso in Cinque Terre.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Quite different to the other four villages.

Monterosso Cinque Terre

Monterosso seaside village Cinque Terre Italy


This village has a huge beach where the others don’t.

Italy fantastic seaside villages  Monterosso

Italy fantastic seaside villages


Catch a ferry to Portofino, you won’t regret it.


Italy fantastic seaside villages

The town is divided into two distinct parts: the old town and the new town. The two areas are divided by a single tunnel that caters to pedestrians and the very few cars in the town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line and is well used by tourists and locals. The beach is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town that in the summer months is overrun by tourists. The village was briefly excluded from the Cinque Terre trail in 1948, but was re-introduced in mid-1949. This is because Italian officials considered the village too large to be considered part of the historic trail.

Lunch at Monterosso

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Another terrific seafood & pasta at Monterosso. In 1870, the Italian government built a railroad line into the city, which opened it up to the outside world. It is the main way in which people enter the city. During World War II, many young men from the Cinque Terre fought for the resistance against the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, and the subsequent Nazi German occupation of Italy.

Busker in the tunnel.

Italy fantastic seaside villages


One of my favourite photos.

Monterosso on the rocks.

Italy fantastic seaside villages

Sunbathing on the rocks, in Manarola they were laying on the concrete.

Super travel tip

If I had to pick my place in Italy it would be Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stayed in Vernazza where it was easy to park our car nearby, without a pre booked room we just wandered into the village where many people approach with accommodation offers.  Many people walk between each of the five fabulous villages that seem to cling to the cliffs that overlook the sea. I took the easy way and caught the train that runs every 20 minutes or so between the towns. My advice to you is visit in the off season as all the villages are full of tourists in summer.

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1g Duck


Author: David Herd

My history, particularly over the last 30 years is dominated by overseas travel. I sold my home in Australia October 20th 2011 and have have been living in Thailand since then. I don’t know where the time has gone? It seems like you go to sleep one night, wake up the next morning, and 20 years have flashed by. Not sure how many years I have left, however I have enjoyed a wonderful charmed life, and if it all ended today I would leave this world with no regrets. I was born in Sydney halfway through the last century, started my travels in the 60s with the usual U.K. Europe adventure at the age of 20, back to Australia and worked in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide in Sales & Marketing with multinational companies including Sanyo, Canon & Remington. Engaged to be married 3 times and never quite made it to the alter, finally realized by the mid 90s I was not cut out for "long term relationships" so I moved to the Gold Coast in Queensland in January 1987, worked for a couple of banks as a Financial Planner, I took a year off work in 1998 to travel and never went back to full time work again, after 25 fun filled years on the Coast I packed up and moved to Thailand. What is the purpose of this blog? Well I really want to use it to record my travel experiences & to display my photographs, give and receive travel tips, comment on places I visit, restaurants I eat in and use it to replace the autobiography I intended to write, apart from all that it helps me fill in my day. :) I moved to Thailand mainly because I wanted to keep travelling while my health allowed me to, there are huge advantages being closer to all the places I want to visit. Cost of living in Thailand is around 35% of the cost in Australia, plus flights are 50% cheaper because you are much closer to everywhere. ???? Consequently I am able to travel to many more places compared to living in Australia. Having said all that, it is & has always been my intention to return to Australia when my travelling is finished, I predict this will happen around 2021.

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