The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast of the Riviera to the west of the city of La Spezia, in its province, in the Liguria region of Italy including five villages, “The Five Lands”: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Cinque TerreThe coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all encapsulated in the Cinque Terre national park. The Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Due to the geographical and anthropomorphic features of the territory in which they are found, they represent one of the main tourist attractions of the Riviera of La Spezia and in general of the Liguria region. The geographic context is a naturally rugged, hilly territory, attenuated by the presence of terraces for crops, which degrade towards the seafront in steep slopes.
Man’s action over the centuries has modelled the territory without altering its delicate ecological balance by terracing the slopes, an agricultural technique intended to exploit as much as possible the heavily sloping soils which degrade towards the sea, thereby making it one of the most characteristic landscapes of Liguria.
In 1998 the Italian Ministry for the Environment set up the protected natural marine area Cinque Terre for the environmental protection and the valorisation of the biological resources, for the divulgation and promotion of a socio-economical development compatible with the naturalistic-landscape relevance of the area.
In 1999 the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre was set up for the conservation of the ecological balance, the protection of the landscape, the safeguard of the anthropological values of the location.
The Cinque Terre belong to the Comunità Montana della Riviera Spezzina.
A local train line from La Spezia to Genoa connects the five villages and runs in what is mainly a tunnel for the full distance between Riomaggiore and Monterosso, emerging from the rock infrequently for quick glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea.
A passenger ferry runs among the five villages, but it does not stop in Corniglia because it does not have a natural harbor or marina. The boat leaves from Genoa’s Old Harbour and La Spezia, Lerici or Portovenere.
A walking trail connects the five villages. The path from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell’Amore (roughly, “Lovers Walk”) and varies in difficulty from an easy stroll to a rough and physically challenging hike. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia is also easy to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 stairs. The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is steep at certain places. The trail from Vernazza to Monterosso is by far the steepest. It winds through olive orchards and vineyards and is rough in places, but offers the best view of the bay and the spectacular approaches to both Monterosso and Vernazza.
Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The mountainsides of the Cinque Terre are heavily terraced and are used to cultivate grapes and olives. This area, and the region of Liguria, as a whole, is known for the pesto – a sauce made with basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. Focaccia is a particularly common local baked product. Farinata is also a typical snack found in bakeries and pizzerias- essentially it is a savoury and crunchy pancake made from a base of chick-pea flour.
The grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made wines. The eponymous Cinque Terre and the Sciachetrà are both made using Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino grapes. Both wines are produced by the Cooperative Agricoltura delle Cinque Terre (“Cinque Terre Agricultural Cooperative”), located between Manarola and Volastra. Other DOC producers are Forlini-Capellini, Walter de Batté, Buranco, Arrigoni.
In addition to wines, other popular local drinks include grappa, a brandy made with the pomace left from winemaking, and limoncello, a sweet liqueur flavoured with lemons.