The first time I saw my long-time dream of visiting Italy becoming a reality, I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Florence? Absolutely! Rome? Yes, please. I couldn’t wait to explore the ancient history offered. Venice? It sounds great… but what about the pigeons?
I knew the must-sees; c’mon, it’s Italy. What I hadn’t considered was the coastal villages of the Cinque Terre that had so much to offer in a very different way than the epic history of Rome or the priceless art of Florence could. After getting recommendations from friends and comment’s like, “I had my best days ever there.” or “You cannot miss it.” I made a point to prioritize the Cinque Terre during my first trip to Italy. My time spent there was wonderful, and it quickly become one of my very favorite places to be. Sure, it’s not at all unheard of.. and it’s easy to see why. Translated, “The Five Lands,” the Cinque Terre consists of five picturesque villages built right into the cliffs, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There is a hiking trail that connects the villages and provides striking views of the sea, the villages, and the terraced vineyards beyond.
Naturally, after leaving Florence, it was a no-brainer to return there with my mom. I couldn’t wait to get back. After our time in Florence and Rome, I was excited at the prospect of enjoying some quiet existence in the beautiful town of Vernazza.
Upon arriving, we were told to pop into a small wine shop and ask for Giuliano. A quick phone call was made and we were greeted and escorted up a small pathway to our temporary home for the next few days; he even insisted on carrying our bags! It was a bit of a climb, but if visiting, remember the towns are built into the cliffs, so you can expect stairs everywhere. Pack light! That said, in general the climbs are almost always so very worth it.
The views from Camere Giuliano are great and the room was very comfortable with beautiful stonework. It is easy to see that Giuliano puts a lot of love into his property. We would see him working around the place during the day, and occasionally ran into him around the town. He was truly a free spirit and had an awesome personality! My favorite place was the large common terrace where we would meet and lounge with fellow guests in the mornings and evenings. We met a wonderful couple from Chicago, Phyllis and Jim, that I’m so happy to have met; and the next day we were all joined by another young couple from NYC. When we would meet up after days out, we would share our wine and miscellaneous snacks of cheese, fruit, olives, or nuts from the day. Giuliano joined us a few times and shared some hilarious stories. These sunset chats became one of my favorite parts of the trip.
While I would have been more than happy to sit on this balcony, overlooking the village and the sea, with wine and a book the entire time, we did manage to get out and about. We spent the first afternoon wandering the town of Vernazza, grabbing a tasty pesto lasagna on the small harbor, popping in and out of shops, chatting with people or just sitting… watching the boats out at sea.
The following day we took the short train ride to the village of Riomaggiore to start the hiking trail. You can pick up the trail from any of the towns, but we also wanted to explore each of the towns and take our time. This is exactly what we did.
Our peaceful stay in Cinque Terre was not long enough, but provided a nice break in a trip filled with famous cities. I love getting to slow down, even if only for a bit, to relax, to chat with new people, and to enjoy the overwhelming beauty everywhere. Already, I can’t wait to return, next time for a much longer stay.