As sunset settles upon the Cinque Terre, the sky becomes a curtain of gold, the sea an undulating sapphire veil.
This is a place of poetry.
Visually stunning, breathtaking in its scope, musical in its winds, poetic to the soul. Cinque Terre, the Five Lands, have long captured the imaginations of artists and travelers alike.
In his poem about a Sunday morning in a village along the coast, Edoardo Firpo captures all that is magical about the coast and villages in his Cinque Terre.
The slope rises rapidly
in the shadow of the houses;
amid the eaves and gutters
appears a limpid sky…
The mule clambers up the hill
in the tinkle of harness bells;
two or three jingling together
make a slow melody
but one with a lower tone
gives a ring every now and then.
The hens scamper down and peck
at pebbles along the ground.
Today is Sunday, and
all of the women stand
before their half-open doors,
all dressed in black because
of vespers still to come.
Withered by years and sun
they chat softly now and then,
saying things already said upon those ancient steps.
Sometimes there comes the hum
from behind the quiet houses
of the young ones in the sun.
Today’s the first day of autumn
and the heat of summer lingers;
the grapes are still on the vine
and not one cloud in the sky.
And I who am passing by
pause on the height, all alone,
in the midst of the sunny vines
close by the silvery veins
that warble as they run down
to lose themselves in the sea.
Edoardo Firpo – Cinque Terre
Along this stretch of Ligurian coastline (the Cinque Terre is within the political boundaries of the Province of Liguria) is a photographers and romantics playground. From the early morning mists that wrap the cliffs above the sea, to the long rays of sunset that shimmer the surface of the sea, the views are ever changing, the memories imparted unforgettable.
In my next five posts, I will focus on each of the villages that encompass the Cinque Terre with information about hotels and restaurants, along with recommendations for a day’s visit in each.
The area now known as the Five Lands encompass a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1998 and 1999, the Italian Government passed legislation to protect the natural environment and to further encourage ecological balance in the water and on the land.
Hiking trails, in all manner of upkeep, crisscross the land. From paved walkways suspended above the sea to rough steep gravel pathways, there is something for everyone who wishes to experience fresh air and views above and along the coast.
IF YOU GO:
Most visitors arrive by train. Between Genoa and Pisa, and easily reached from Florence, this is truly the preferred way to arrive. For those with cars, you might consider parking at the lot at the train station in La Spezia and taking the train from there. Driving into the villages is impossible for some of them. Monterosso al Mare, on the northern end of the Cinque Terre is the most easily reached by car, and that proves difficult with very narrow roads and precipitous drops to the sea. Parking can also be a challenge even in Monterosso, often requiring a good 1/4 mile descent (and ascent!) to walk from the garage or road side parking to the village.
Train passes for travel between all five villages are available at the train station in La Spezia, and in each village’s train station. Here are prices and information about the passes. For most current information, visit: Cinque Terre Train Passes
- One day, adults: 10 euro
- Two day, adults: 19 euro
- Children under 12: 6 euro
- Over age 70: 8 euro
- Family Card (2 adults and 2 under 12): 26 euro
For those of you not familiar with ticket validation, you will need to locate a yellow box in the station before you leave, place the ticket in the slot and print a validation stamp on your ticket. Failure to do so will result, if you are asked to produce a non-validated ticket, of a fine from the conductor.
For summer excursions along the coast, click on this link: Gulf of Poets Cinque Terre
This is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. If you arrive with no hotel reservation, you will probably discover how busy it is! I recommend reserving at least sixty days in advance of your visit. It is always possible to find last-minute accommodations in one of the villages, yet it is always best to book early.
In the next five posts on our blog, I include details about hotels and B&B’s in each of the five villages along the coast.
This map provides general orientation to the Cinque Terre. For those interested in hiking the trails in the park, or along the coast, maps and detailed information are available at hotels, train stations and at Tourist Information offices in each village. Please note that you should wear very comfortable walking shoes or boots if you intend to attempt any of the trails and walkways in the area.