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 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.
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.
These villages are magnificent, have not changed in centuries.
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
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.
If you love photography this is the place to be.
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Exploring the five villages properly takes at least five days.
Looking toward Manarola from Corniglia
The villages seem to just cling to the land.
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.
Vernazza was a great choice for our home base.
Great seafood in Vernazza.
Italian seafood at its finest.
I climbed the many steps to have dinner at the restaurant.
Check out this short video on Vernazza
Main St Vernazza
I think Vernazza was my favourite village because we spent more time there.
My Australian friends, Jodie O’Neill & Deborah Holliday
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.
Hard to pronounce but who cares. 🙂
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.
Every village has something different to offer.
These fishing villages have not changed in centuries.
These villages are close to Portofino, & Camogli, both well worth a visit.
David Herd relaxing in Coniglia Cinque Terre.
For me this is the most interesting part of Italy.
Small cafe tucked away in a courtyard.
So peaceful and quiet.
What a great setting for a coffee and a cake.
Quite different to the other four villages.
Monterosso Cinque Terre
This village has a huge beach where the others don’t.
Catch a ferry to Portofino, you won’t regret it.
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
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.
One of my favourite photos.
Monterosso on the rocks.
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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