Italy’s unique Rail Discoveries
Clinging to a particularly rugged curve of the Italian Rivera's north-western coastline, the Cinque Terre ('Five Lands') are five separate villages that, since the eleventh century, have remained largely immune to modernisation to retain the traditions and charm of a bygone era.
Almost entirely inaccessible by road, the five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, are linked by a railway line or can be reached by boat. A footpath also connects the five villages. Between them, the Cinque Terre, the hills dotted with the vineyards and olive groves that contribute towards their economy, and the sheer-cliffed coastline on which they perch have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The dramatic natural beauty and unspoilt charm of the Cinque Terre has elevated the popularity of these unique villages as a tourist destination. Each village is enjoyable to explore and has its own character. Monterosso - the northernmost village - most resembles a modern resort, featuring a sandy beach and several restaurants, shops and hotels. Vernazza has a smaller beach, but is notable for its ancient clock towers and labyrinthine streets. Atop a hill overlooking the sea, tiny Corniglia is peaceful and offers spectacular coastal views. Manarola's shoreline caves invite exploration whilst locally-caught anchovies are a speciality here. Riomaggiore is another fishing village, but boasts and ancient defensive castle and a good selection of shops selling Italian delicacies.