Along the west coast of Italy there is an area called the Cinque Terre, Italian for “five lands”, which consists of five towns built into the mountainside and are all connected by hiking trails. Each of the five towns have something different to offer and visiting them all over a weekend would be a great addition to any European adventure. Taking the train is the easiest way to get there as the roads in the area are very narrow as they twist up and down the mountains.
After flying into Pisa, Italy to see the Leaning Tower for the afternoon, we took the short hour train ride up to La Spezia. While not one of the five towns in the Cinque Terre, it is the largest city in the area and is only about 10 minutes by train to the first city and just 25 minutes to get the last of the five towns. With the bigger city comes more options for accommodations, restaurants and nightlife, all at more reasonable prices. Though if you willing to spend more there are a few options in the towns themselves.
At the La Spezia train station, we were able to purchase Cinque Terre Cards for both days we would be spending in the area. The card gave us unlimited use of the trains from La Spezia, in the south, all the way to Levanto, the next big city north of the five Cinque Terre towns. Also included in the card was the ability to hike some of the trails between the towns so if that is something that interests you, make sure to purchase a card. The more treacherous trails that go up the mountains are free, while the card is a necessity in order to use the trails down along the coast. Unfortunately while we were visiting in May 2013, some of these coastal trails had been closed due to many landslides that happened in 2011. Reconstruction of the trails is currently under way so check online before you visit to see if they are completed.
A trip to Italy would not be complete without talking about the food and wine! Throughout the weekend, we found many small eateries to stop at in order to get something to eat while we explored each of the five towns. The many pizza, pasta and seafood dishes were all amazing. Our best find was the last thing we did. We just happened to stumble upon Buranco Winery on a secluded street just outside of Monterosso. After exploring the gorgeous property, that overlooks the town, lemon trees and vineyards, we sat down for a tasting. There are multiple tasting packages ranging in number of glasses and the types of wine in the tasting. Then with each package comes a plate of hors d’evours. With the full glasses you get in each package, one is all you need for 2-3 people. One is also able to buy by the glass or bottle and they also have a service to ship bottles to anywhere in the world.
Would you spend more time exploring the towns of the Cinque Terre or hiking the trails?