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Why Cinque Terre Is The Most Magnificent Part Of Italy

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 30/03/2016 Jessica Kane

Vernazza, like all the towns of Cinque Terre in Liguria, faces an onslaught of tourists during the day. Many—both individuals and associations—are in favor of limiting the number of visitors so they can enjoy a more human way of life. In the meantime, if you want to enjoy Vernazza, I recommend sleeping here so you can savor it in the evening and early morning. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., steer clear: at the dock, ask for a boat to take to you Monterosso for a swim at Acqua Pendente, a magnificent beach across from a small waterfall. But you can also swim at Spiaggia Nuova (or Spiaggione).

Cinque Terre is famous for its trails (unfortunately, some are closed), hillside strolls and stunning (and very popular) view of the sea. The ones along the hilltops, like no. 1 (which goes to Monterosso), are more demanding but not as popular. The locals also go from town to the Sanctuary of Reggio, 1 1/4 miles of paved road to the little Romanesque church. For a place to sleep, head to Gianni Franzi, which is also a restaurant with little tables on the square overlooking the sea. People staying at this B&B can also enjoy breakfast on the deck with a sheer drop to the water, and a marvelous view connected with some of the rooms.

You’ll feel like you’re on a yacht. La Malà, in the carugio, has four charming rooms, two of which with an unforgettable view. For dinner: Belforte, a restaurant in a medieval watchtower with terraces on three levels, and offering typical Ligurian dishes. The top dish? Spaghetti alla Bruno (with seafood). By the way, at Vernazza there are hundreds of steps up and down, and no one will carry your luggage for you (it’s not the custom here), so travel light if possible. 

Gianni Franzi (rooms): Via San Giovanni Battista, 47–49, tel. +39 0187 821003; restaurant: Piazza Marconi 1. www.giannifranzi.it

La Malà, Via San Giovanni Battista, 29, tel. +39 334 28 75 718 info@ lamala.it, www.lamala.it

Belforte, Via G. Guidoni, 42, tel. +39 0187 812222, www. ristorantebelforte.it

For a place to sleep, head to Gianni Franzi, which is also a restaurant with little tables on the square overlooking the sea. People staying at this B&B can also enjoy breakfast on the deck with a sheer drop to the water, and a marvelous view connected with some of the rooms. You’ll feel like you’re on a yacht. La Malà, in the carugio, has four charming rooms, two of which with an unforgettable view. For dinner: Belforte, a restaurant in a medieval watchtower with terraces on three levels, and offering typical Ligurian dishes. The top dish? Spaghetti alla Bruno (with seafood). By the way, at Vernazza there are hundreds of steps up and down, and no one will carry your luggage for you (it’s not the custom here), so travel light if possible. 

Gianni Franzi (rooms): Via San Giovanni Battista, 47–49, tel. +39 0187 821003; restaurant: Piazza Marconi 1. www.giannifranzi.it

La Malà, Via San Giovanni Battista, 29, tel. +39 334 28 75 718 info@ lamala.it, www.lamala.it

Belforte, Via G. Guidoni, 42, tel. +39 0187 812222, www. ristorantebelforte.it

Corniglia, probably because it is at the highest altitude and has no direct access to the sea, remains the most authentic of the Cinque Terre towns (during low season just 180 people live here). One of them is the president of the Associazione Uniti per Corniglia, Alberto Codeglia, who recommends two special hikes. “For a unique sunset, you can walk down 320 steps from the town square, Largo Teragio, to the Corniglia marina, where there is a small dock. Depending on the weather and visibility, you can see the entire Ligurian coastline as far as the French border.” To get off the beaten track, take the train from Corniglia to Vernazza, and from there go to the Sanctuary of Reggio, the itinerary I suggested as a hike in Vernazza.

From there, a little-used trail off to the left leads to the Sanctuary of Soviore: along the way, there are strawberry trees in bloom or bearing fruit, depending on the season. The Romanesque church dates back to the 9th century. You can stop there for lunch, which is prepared by lay sisters. The trail continues to Monterosso (2 1/2 hours with a lunch break).

Corniglia: for a place to stay, E terrasse (“the terraces” in the local dialect) is a B&B with rooms or apartments. At breakfast, those staying in the rooms can enjoy cakes and cookies baked by the owners, Nadia and Mariangela Guelfi (a different mug every morning: they have a huge collection!). For dinner, Cantina di Mananan: skillet with anchovies or stockfish, stewed or accomodato. If you have already chosen a place with a view and want to eat at home, Vincenzo Monti’s Butiega (shop) sells pesto and wine, as well as prepared dishes such as a savory rice torte and cima ripiena ligure, a local meat dish.

A Butiega di Monti Vincenzo, Via Fieschi 142, tel. +39 0187 812292 E terrasse B&B, Via Fieschi 102, info@eterrasse.it +39 0187 812096, www.eterrasse.it

Cantina di Mananan, Via Fieschi, 117, tel. +39 0187 821166

Francesco Maineri, president of Associazione Ospitalità 5 Terre, describes Riomaggiore to me. 

“The marina is beautiful and you can rent canoes or boats to get to the wild beach of Fossola, where the water is gorgeous. Otherwise, I recommend visiting the Cooperativa Agricola 5 Terre, in the village of Groppo. This is where all the local winemakers bring their grapes to be pressed. You can tour the winery, enjoy tastings and buy wine.”

A number of ferries linking Riomaggiore with Monterosso and Portovenere dock here, offering an alternative to taking the train. Naturally, there are also trails, but for now only the “high” ones are open. For dinner and to enjoy the magical atmosphere of this village, try Dau Cila at the marina. It offers traditional Cinque Terre dishes, and also has an excellent wine list, with both reds and whites from the area. Take the sommelier’s advice for what to drink and try these wines with cold dishes (octopus carpaccio with arugula and cherry tomatoes) or a salad.

For a place to sleep,

Alla Marina rooms and apartments, some with a view, catering to all budgets.

Via san Giacomo 61, tel. +39 328 013 4077. www.allamarina.com

Società Agricola Cooperativa 5 Terre, Località Groppo, Riomaggiore, tel. +39 0187 920435 www.cantinacinqueterre.com

Dua Cila, Via S. Giacomo, 65

tel. +39 0187 760032

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