I love Cinque Terre and have no problem unabashedly shouting it from the rooftops. I’ve gotten some flak from Italians who tell me I love it so much because I’m American and that Cinque Terre is for the Americans. And, honestly, sometimes, I can’t help but think some fellow ex-pats who proclaim that there’s so much more to Liguria than the touristy Cinque Terre are passive-aggressively sending me a message.
It’s true, there is so much more to Liguria than Cinque Terre. But Cinque Terre, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site, gets 2.5 million visitors a year. And honestly, people come to Italy to go to Cinque Terre. And if Cinque Terre is the objective of someone’s trip, they’re going to go to Cinque Terre. Period. That being said, they might tack on another nearby location, but they’re not going to change their plans and not go to Cinque Terre. Especially with the release of the Disney Pixar film Luca this summer.
My connection? Not only does it happen to play host to my favorite restaurant, but I’m lucky enough to have a good friend who lives there, and through her, I’ve made other friends, so I have a crew of sorts with whom I occasionally roll. If she lived in another part of Liguria, that probably would have been my turf, but it’s not. And I’m lucky — this exquisite place that’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip for some is my regular summer weekend destination? Sure, the crowds can damper the experience a bit, but I don’t let them! I get myself up early enough to run before I have to zig and zag my way around them on the main drag — and before the sun rises over the hill and I have to cut my run short due to the heat.
As with most places that experience lots of tourism, eating well can be questionable. Not all the restaurants in Cinque Terre are what they seem. Local products cost more and, believe it or not, some eateries source their seafood from afar, pawning of frozen seafood from Ethiopia or China as locally caught.
For La Cucina Italiana, I compiled a list of ten restaurants in Cinque Terre (one of which is a little beyond, in Framura), where you’re guaranteed to eat well. Now just to clarify, just because a place isn’t on this list, doesn’t mean it’s guilty of shady seafood practice — this list features ten places where you’re guaranteed to eat well.
And for those seeking an aperitivo in Cinque Terre, here’s a similar piece I wrote for La Cucina Italiana.