When one thinks of Italy, what does one think of? Roman ruins and mopeds in old cities? Italy is a country that is just packing it when it comes to attractions and things to see and do. One of the most famous and visually stunning regions in Italy is without a doubt the Cinque Terra coastal area of northern Italy.The five villages of Cinque Terra are just some of the many quaint little villages in Italy that one should be aware of. If one is heading to the south of Italy, then one should also consider visiting Matera - it is the cave-house town that featured in the last James Bond, No Time To Die movie.

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What Makes The Five Villages Of Cinque Terre So Remarkable

Cinque Terre is made up of five villages - Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These and the surrounding hills are part of Cinque Terre National Park - designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Name: Cinque Terre Means "Five Lands"
  • Designated: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Part of: The Cinque Terre National Park
  • Five Villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore

For reasons that can be answered with a glance of a picture, the Cinque Terre area is one of Italy's popular tourist destinations. The area has been molded by people over the centuries building terraces on the rugged and steep landscapes up to the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea (part of the Mediterranean Sea). People who lived in these villages fished and cultivated grapes and olives on the rugged and steep surrounding landscapes.

Related: 20 Step Guide To Planning The Perfect Italian Vacation Itinerary

Access to The Five Villages of Cinque Terre

Road access to these villages is difficult and is only possible on narrow and somewhat precarious mountain roads (at any rate, cars have been banned in the villages for over a decade). Access is normally through the paths, trains, and boats in the area.

Until recently, the string of five old fishing villages was only linked by mule tracks and was only accessible by rail or water. It is a glimpse into a life that until recently was shaped by extreme isolation.

The easiest way to get to these villages is by train and the gateway is the historic Italian city of Genoa (Genova). To get there take the train towards La Spezia and then take the local train (called the Cinque Terre Express) in the direction of Levanto.

  • Best Way To Access: By Train
  • Gateway: The Italian City of Genoa
  • Stops: The Trains Stops By All Five Villages

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The Cinque Terre Express runs frequently and one can expect it to be running every 20 minutes from mid-March until the 1st of November.

  • Tip: Get A Cinque Terre Train Card - It Includes Unlimited Train Travel on The La Spezia - Levanto Line.

To see the train's scheduling, refer to the Cinque Terre Train Timetable.

Related: Where To Go On A First-Time Italy Trip, And What To Know Before You Do

What To Know About The Five Villages

Riomaggiore:

Riomaggiore is the easternmost village in Cinque Terra and is also the largest of the five (plus it is sort of the unofficial headquarters). One will ever forget the picture of the buildings flowing down the steep ravine into the picture-perfect harbor.

Manarola:

Manarola is famous for its sweet Sciacchetrà wine (so even if one's taste is more sour wine - try this local sweet speciality). It is notable for its medieval relics and claims to be the oldest of the five villages. The waterfront still remains lined up with fishing boats adding an air of authenticity to it.

  • Tip: Hike Up Punta Bonfiglio And Enjoy Breathtaking Views And A Bar

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Corniglia:

Corniglia is the only one of the five villages that does not have direct access to the sea. It is set atop a 330-foot rocky outcrop and is surrounded by vineyards. From the village is a steep trail to a rocky cove. Corniglia is regarded as the quiet village of the bunch and its alleys are narrow and colorful.

It also has the only spot where one can see all five villages at once.

  • Access: From The Railway Station One Must Climb A 377-Step Brick Stairway or Take The Shuttle Bus

Vernazza:

Some regard Vernazza as the quaintest of the five villages. Its streets are lined with cafes and its main street is cobbled. The train station accesses this village while the village's small harbor is also the only secure landing point on the Cinque Terre Coast.

  • Noted: As Perhaps The Quaintest And Steepest of The Villages

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Monterosso:

The fifth village is the only one with a proper stretch of beach while the village is full of lemon trees and anchovies. The village is also divided in two with a newer and older half linked by a tunnel.

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