Cinque Terre: why everyone raves

Last updated 08:54 14/09/2012

Which are the most photographed sites in the world? Judging from a scientific study I've conducted on Facebook, Italy's Cinque Terre National Park has got to be up there.

From the plethora of photos I'd seen online, I felt as though I'd already visited the seaside area with its five iconic villages dotted along the cliffs high on the west coast of Italy's boot. Which is why it was low on my list of must-see places.

But a couple of friends were heading there and Ted and I weren't yet ready to leave the Mediterranean for the big smoke of Rome, so we tagged along. I've now joined the legions of FB posters who've been equally wowed by the olive-tree-lined slopes overlooking the sea.  

GRapesBecause yes, it turns out there is a reason everyone raves about this walk. I'm glad we did it after peak season, because as you're winding your way around the unsheltered rocks in the beating sun, 32 degrees is quite hot enough. I don't know how people who trek the path on 40-degree days in the height of summer cope. September meant fewer walkers as well; this track is so popular it's common for it to close once it reaches capacity during July and August.

We hopped off the train at the first village, Monterosso, about midday (the previous day's talk of starting early had faded away). For a while I thought we'd take a lot longer than the predicted two hours to reach the next town; around every corner was another phenomenal view that warranted a photo stop. The locals were beginning the grape harvest as we passed, using a monorail to pick bunches on the near-vertical hills. I felt as if I'd stepped into a romantic Italian movie.

Eventually we settled into our pace, which is when I realised why I'd seen so many images of Cinque Terre - the bulk of the accents we heard were Kiwi or Aussie. After a few obligatory "where are you froms?" and "how long have you been travelling fors?" we saw the first of the four brightly coloured villages we were about to stroll through. The red and yellow houses of Vernazza look as though a giant hand has plonked them haphazardly on the cliffs - the village is a photographer's dream.

Cinque TerreAfter a quick gelato stop we continued up about a thousand brutal steps as the grapevines gave way to olive groves on the way to Corniglia. By the time we got there we were well ready for a late lunch of the most delicious pasta I've ever eaten. Unfortunately the part of the track from Corniglia to Manarola is closed due to flooding so we took a train there instead. It was then an easy 20-minute stroll to Riomaggiore.

All of us were suffering from a heinous case of the back sweats so it was delightful to reward ourselves with a swim. We ended the day with pina coladas and an array of snacks overlooking the water before heading back to our base in La Spezia, a couple of towns over. A picture's worth a thousand words, but there's nothing like the real thing.

What's the place you always see popping up on your Facebook feed? And do you feel there's a place in the world where everyone seems to go?

For more photos and travel goss, "like" the Roil Around the World Facebook page.

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Dave   #1   08:58 am Sep 14 2012

I just came back from Europe but couldn't quite go to Cinque Terre - gotta catch a slow train from Genoa to get there. There's a reason why Italy has so many visitors each year no matter what time of the year you go - too many things to see. I spent 10 days in Como, Milan, Siena, Florence, Rome, Verona and Venice - plus a week with Genoa and Torino 5 years ago - and still couldn't see everything.

Oh well, I can live my travels through the many mutual friends I made from (Melbourne), Australia while over there on facebook again.........

Hipster-Douchebag   #2   09:03 am Sep 14 2012

Nice report! We spent a week in Italy a couple of years ago, and intended to go to Cinque Terre, but unfortunately my SpousalUnit had severely underestimated how far it was from where we were staying in Diano Marina: it was by no means a day trip. Then a week or so after we got home, we heard on the news that a large chunk of the hillside there had been washed away due to torrential rains, so we thought we'd lost all hope of visiting this highly acclaimed tourist attraction. Good to know it's still owrth visiting!

Ray & Elaine   #3   09:11 am Sep 14 2012

Spent 4 days at the Cinque Terre based at Riomaggiore where we had a small but delightful self catering apartment overlooking the town and the sea. Did the walk spread over a couple of days in September 2010. An absolutely magical part of the world. The thing I remember most is sitting on our balcony at dusk eating local bread and cheese, sipping a wine and gazing over the town and the sparkling sea.....magical

AR   #4   09:24 am Sep 14 2012

It's beautiful isn't it, I spent 2 months living in Riomaggiore in 2005, it really is a magical place.

fairybread   #5   10:09 am Sep 14 2012

'Sail Croatia' is what seems to pop up on my Facebook feed all the time ... haven't done it myself but would love to. Cinque Terre looks amazing. Can't wait to get to both those places myself!

Jamo   #6   10:40 am Sep 14 2012

Without a doubt, the most visited and posted place on my FB would be Vegas.

layna   #7   11:28 am Sep 14 2012

@fairybread same! 'sail croatia' is all over my wall, its like everyone i know all met upto go to the same trip!

AS   #8   12:08 pm Sep 14 2012

Agree with you- it's magical. We did a 21 day Rick Steves tour in 2010 which included 2 days there. We stayed at Monterosso, the first village. We almost got taken down with change at one of the shops when we bought some stamps & postcards at Vernazza, our only negative experience. Would love to go back sometime.

CM   #9   04:24 pm Sep 18 2012

When I was there last year you could still walk from Corniglia to Manarola, but not the standard walk. You have to walk the higher track so it's longer and a bit more uphill - downhill. But definitely worth it so you don't miss one of the walks :) Such a magical place!

LP   #10   10:24 pm Sep 21 2012

Caught a couple of trains from Florence to Monterosso (about 2hours) for a day trip to the Cinque Terre in July. Although rather crowded it was absolutely stunning! Definitely want to return and spend more time there and do the walk

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