In Northwest Italy in the region of Liguria you will find five colorful fishing villages linked by an ancient system of footpaths. These villages perched on steeply terraced cliffs are collectively referred to as The Cinque Terre, which means five lands or five towns.
As cars were banned many years ago you can reach the five villages-- Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore-- only by footpaths, boats or train. The ancient architecture, medieval fortresses and breathtaking coastal scenery are just a few of the charms of this area.
Many compare the grandeur and scope of the low stone walls (muretti in Italian) to that of the Great Wall of China. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides, are collectively known as The Cinque Terre National Park which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though the towns suffered extensive damage from floods and mudslides in 2011, much of their traditional medieval architecture remains today.
Although the Cinque Terre Trail to Corniglia can be a good way to capture dramatic views from high above the towns, parts of the trail are challenging for inexperienced hikers and various parts of the trails close intermittently without much notice.
So be sure to wait until you arrive and check with the local tourist office (quite frequently at the train station) to see which parts of the trail are accessible. At last report trail 2a (the Manarola-Corniglia trail) and trail 2b (the Riomaggiore-Manarola trail) were scheduled to be close until 2020.
Mid-May to Mid-September is an ideal time to visit Cinque Terre. If you’re visiting on a Monday, you’ll be able to visit the local market that happens right in the town centre. And if you go in August, you might be able to catch the Madonna Bianca Festival in nearby Portovenere during which flowers decorate the streets and 2000 Roman torches light up the village for a processional honoring the town’s patron saint the Virgin Mary.