Thursday, June 23, 2016

Visiting the Italian Riviera Liguria and Cinque Terre

The Harbour of Portofino
The Italian Riviera, also known as the Liguria, is one of those ridiculously beautiful places, you have to wonder why it isn't on more lists of places to visit in Italy. Not that we mind. While busy with tourists, both local and international, it never felt like a tourist trap like much of Italy's more popular tourist destinations.

It is here where you will find the Cinque Terre national park, a UNESCO world heritage site. The entire park is only accessible via railway, boats or trails. You could drive within a mile or so distance to a couple of villages, but Cinque Terre is best enjoyed walking. The five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggioreare are connected via four well marked trails (though two are currently closed due to the devastating floods of 2011), and is via these trails that I recommend you enjoy the national park. There are also other off the beaten path hiking trails around Cinque Terre.
Have a cocktail in Manarola
These five villages are also connected via a railway network to the rest of Liguria. We made our base in Rapallo, about one hour away, putting us somewhere in between the port city of Genoa (where you would normally fly in, or take the train down from Milan) and Cinque Terre. On the east side you have La Spezia which connects the Liguria region to Florence and the rest of Italy. You could also take the ferry to most of the villages (bar Corniglia) from Rapallo, La Spezia and Portovenere. Rapallo is also a good base to stay if you want to visit Portofino, the glamorous harbour village favoured by celebrities on honeymoons.