In northwestern Italy, there resides the region of Liguria, with its famously known city of Genoa. Also hosted in this region is the area of the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre, or five lands, was named for the five quaint villages, which have been intricately carved into the cliff-sided hills that rise boldly from the coastal seas below. Italy’s Cinque Terre holds an artistic enticement due to the breathtaking beauty of hills and rugged cliffs overhanging the glistening aqua seas below. Living amongst this spectacular panoramic view, five villages have been designed and orchestrated within the natural landscape cradle. Tourists, to Italy, will be intrigued by the houses, paths of navigation, and scenery making up this natural beauty, which uniqueness has been kept intact by adherence to nautical and agricultural traditions. The chain of villages consists of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Rio Maggiore.
This Italian cliff-encrusted coastline, geographically, was created through a series of folds as the rocky landmasses pushed forcefully against each other, raising and pressing together during the Tertiary period. After millions of years of erosion, it has yielded this natural splendor of numerous tiny peninsulas and bay-like coves located between two main land promontories, The Punta Cavo de Montenero, and The Punta Mesco.
Historically, there have been archaeological findings that have indicated this area had been inhabited by humans in very early times, leaving behind the traces of jewelry, and ornamentally decorated shells. It is also known that the Etruscans constructed a road system, which was utilized for trade and commerce, and in the roadway the area of Italy’s Cinque Terre was included. However this roadway has been long abandoned, and it has been thought that the abandonment is the reasoning behind this areas unspoiled preservation.
Of course, through the years, imposing upon this nautical landscape, people, who despite the rugged terrain, managed to cultivate the hillside land. Using a technique known as terrace cultivation, farmers were able to take strips of hillside land and plant upon it. They built short dry walling and stairways, in hopes of navigating the rough terrain, while managing the unforgiving forces of the seas below. These countless short walls, called murreti, and stairways have been in use and maintained laboriously for thousands of years. The short dry walls are, on average, two meters high, and stretch along this Italian terrain for eleven thousand kilometers.
Depending on where you are traveling from, Cinque Terre can be navigated starting in the north or from the south. Navigating Cinque Terre, from the north, can easily be accomplished once you arrive from the Brugnato motorway exit. You will then travel through the small towns of Borgetto Vara, and Pignone, before reaching the first village of Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare.
When you arrive in Monterosso al Mare, a statue of Neptune looking out over his glistening seas, in ever-watchful guard, will greet you. Known for some of this coasts most beautiful beaches; Monterosso al Mare is a perfect start for your Cinque Terre exploration. Besides the wonderful seascape view, this village is home to the 16th century Capucchin Monastery, with its exquisite paintings, and an ancient castle.
Traveling south, you will make your way to the second village in the chain, Vernazza. The Italian village of Vernazza juts out over the seas below. The village houses the remnants and ruins of Castle of the Doria, medieval watchtower, Torrione, and parts of the ancient wall, all constructed for defense purposes. Once again, there is mixing of the ancient along side the everyday beauty. Vernazza has maintained the look and feel of seaport, making it easily accessible.
Continuing on your journey south, the village of Corniglia presents itself in Italy’s Cinque Terre chain. This village differs from that of its sister villages, as it is not situated directly overlooking the sea. It is surrounded on three sides by vineyards constructed in the old method of terrace cultivation.
Manarola is the next village along the Cinque Terre trails. Sitting upon the rugged rocky cliffs of this coastline, its origins are quite ancient. It was originally founded by the Roman settlement of Volastra. The interesting architecture of this village looks as if the houses, churches, and towers are carved right out of the hillside, resembling a great castle, which overlooks the sea. An interesting architectural structure is a white cement pyramid, which is utilized as a nautical trigonometric signal for those navigating the sea. The well known via dell’Amore (the road of love) connects this village with the next link in Italy’s Cinque Terre chain.
Rio Maggiore is considered the most romantic panoramic village in the sequence. It is said that while lovers found shelter on the love road, and gained inspiration to declare their feelings and emotions with the beauty of the seascape setting their stage. The brightly painted pastel houses, in this village, are arranged in a beehive-like pattern.
While traveling through the natural beauty of Italy’s Cinque Terre, observe the hard work the local farmers put in carrying out the traditional cultivation of this area. Between the hard work of the farmers, in this area, perhaps combined with the salty misty sea spray, might be reason enough for why the sweetness of the grapes and the wonderful taste of the olives and lemons, which are the typical products farmed within the five villages. During your journey, you can experience an adrenaline thrill at designated cliff diving areas. Also, scuba diving and snorkeling expeditions can be done at a few locations along the Cinque Terre trail. Because of the excellent locations of these villages, it yields gastronomical goodies from the sea; so, stop into a local eatery and enjoy a locally inspired meal, while indulging in the savory wines that are made there.
Today, Italy’s Cinque Terre is an oasis of Italian culture. Since, it borders the Tuscany region, you can feel the Tuscan infusion within the thriving culture, from its inspired cuisine to its high quality wines, this picturesque treasure spot will not disappoint. A trip to Cinque Terre is a must inclusion to your travel itinerary.
Tags: Cinque Terre