My love for Cinque Terre knows no bounds and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have an Italian friend who likes to take a dig at my admiration for these five UNESCO-protected fishing villages every chance he can get. It’s all meant in jest of course as he’s one of those Cinque-Terre-is-just-for-the-Americans Italians, and since I’m American, he finds my adoration for these enchanting seaside towns purely cliché.
When I visited this gorgeous little strip of Liguria last summer, after which I rounded-up some of the best restaurants in Cinque Terre for Food Republic, I chatted with a couple of Danes, one of whom asked me: “What is it with Cinque Terre and the Americans? We thought we found this hidden gem and then we get here and I’ve never seen so many Americans in my life.”
Yes, a seemingly endless assemblage of Americans is likely to be found in Cinque Terre at any time of the year and I have to say, I can’t blame them. Cinque Terre should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Seeing the four other towns from Monterosso, the first of the “five lands”, for the first time is unforgettable. For me, it was during a hilltop descent…the setting sun had gilded the four other colorful seaside villages and I literally lost my breath. Vernazza is nestled into its harbor while Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore sit perched on the rugged cliffs, all comprised of pastel buildings next to the sparkling azure water. Although a gray sky doesn’t diminish the charm, the sunnier the better as the bluer the sky the bluer the water, the sharper the contrast and the more glorious the vista.
While I’ll never “see” Cinque Terre for the first time again, the view when stepping out of the Monterosso train station onto Via Fegina never gets old. In honor of hitting a milestone birthday and landing a full-time job (with a contract!!), I decided another visit was in order. While I knew April wouldn’t exactly be beach season, I wanted to visit my friends, inhale the salty air and hear the gentle lapping of the sea. However, a bout of rough water led to slightly larger-than-normal waves crash landing on the rocky shores, resulting in more of an oceanic roar. And it was pretty cold, too! Although I wasn’t planning to swim, I had hoped to pass a few hours reading on the beach but that didn’t happen. A six-week-long cough/cold had recently departed from my airspace so I didn’t want to risk a regression due to the high winds and sporadic sunshine, so I limited my bundled-up beach time to just a couple of hours.
Overall, it was a splendid weekend. I ate and drank well, scored some vintage and sipped a glorious glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade. More on all of this some other time.