Find out why these five Ital­ian vil­lages should be on your bucket list

Vil­lages cling­ing to cliffs make the Ital­ian Cinque Terre a must-see

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - BY Ann Rickard

IT MUST surely be on ev­ery trav­eller’s bucket list. The Cinque Terre means five lands and refers to the vil­lages Riomag­giore, Ma­narola, Corniglia, Ver­nazza and


The vil­lages are built into the weath­ered cliffs on Italy’s Lig­urian coast over­look­ing the sea. They cling onto the cliffs as though one hearty gust of wind could set the lot tum­bling into the Mediter­ranean Sea.

Trains, boats and paths con­nect the vil­lages. Cars can­not get in. Fif­teen years ago, we walked the rough and craggy paths on the ter­raced hills be­tween each vil­lage, sur­rounded by vine­yards and or­chards with glit­ter­ing views all the way.

We had no idea of the dif­fi­culty of each walk be­tween each vil­lage. Our in­ten­tion had been to do per­haps one and train it back.

But our ar­rival at each be­guil­ing vil­lage in­spired us to go on. We sat in al­fresco cafes over­look­ing the clear blue sea, look­ing up to the multi-coloured build­ings while we drank cof­fee, and as the day pro­gressed, wine and then later cock­tails.

At each vil­lage we asked wait­ers: “Is it far to the next vil­lage?” and the re­ply was al­ways, “no, not at all.” But it was far. Not so much far, rather stag­ger­ingly steep and out­ra­geously tricky in parts. The paths along the cliffs some­times as­cended to dizzy heights, and then de­scended dra­mat­i­cally, of­ten with just dirt steps dug into the hills. It was a gru­elling walk.

But we were 15 years younger and the scenery was so spec­tac­u­lar we kept go­ing.

We re­vis­ited this UNESCO World Her­itage site this month in a man­ner more suited to our years. By sea, by ferry.

Day tick­ets from nearby La Spezia would take us to Riomag­giore, Ma­narola, Ver­nazza and Mon­terosso if we wanted to stop in each vil­lage.

Corniglia was no longer an op­tion, closed due to floods and mud­slides in 2011. The ap­proach to the vil­lages by sea is a high­light be­fore you even step off the ferry: the soar­ing cliffs, the multi-hued build­ings, the rocks, the gin-clear wa­ter.

The colour­ful build­ings of Riomag­giore are hud­dled around a tiny port, a snug spot where hun­dreds of tourists were try­ing to get pho­tos with­out an­other per­son in them (im­pos­si­ble).

Peo­ple were sun­bathing on the rocks, div­ing and jump­ing into the invit­ing wa­ter, and who were we not to join them?

Then it was back on the ferry with hun­dreds of oth­ers, squeezed into seats on the top deck, the wind and sun­shine and views en­chant­ing all of us. Read more of Ann’s mus­ings at an­


The Cinque Terre means five lands, and is made up of five Ital­ian vil­lages.

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