Exploring 4 of the 5 Cinque Terre Villages

Good morning Manarola, we were probably one of the few people who are awake in Manarola! View from our balcony – the village was so quiet!

We got ready and went downstairs for breakfast (included), it has good varieties of breakfast items.

After breakfast, our official full day of exploring Cinque Terre began! First, we checked out Manarola where we staying because we arrived quite late last night that we didn’t have time to explore much.

The steep path that we wheeled our luggage up from the train station to get to the marina side of Manarola:

The other side of the village:

Manarola train station on the other end of the tunnel – most of the 5 villages’ train stations are located on the other end of the tunnel and each are differently decorated. The sign clearly pointed the way to the train station as well as “Via Dell’Amore” – the most well known trail in Cinque Terre that connects Manarola and Riomaggiore, also known as “Lovers’ Lane”. However, it is closed due to rock slide back in 2012.

Manarola’s tunnel to the train station:

A “small” section is opened which we walked up to check it out, steel net to prevent sliding rocks:

Looking down, there’s the Manarola train station:

It was only a short section that is opened:

We turned back to the train station and walked into the tourist office and bought the “abbonamento settimanale” ticket – it’s a week-long train pass for unlimited travel between two points – in this case Riomaggiore – Monterosso for only 10.60 Euros! I found out about this “special” train pass from http://cinqueterreinsider.com/2014/10/28/insider-tip-the-pass-they-wont-tell-you-about/ and it saved us a lot – each train journey cost 2.10 Euros!

At each train station, I took a picture of the posted timetable so we can always check when is the next train and it even has the platform number, very convenient!

Warning sign of pickpocket!

Not all trains stop in each Cinque Terre villages so check the timetable to make sure and stay behind the yellow line!

One thing that I think it would make Cinque Terre perfect is more frequent trains between the 5 villages! Getting from one village to another takes less than few minutes of train ride but the interval of trains is 15-30 minutes each! We took the train heading to La Spezia direction to Riomaggiore, the village before Manarola. We got in the train and after a few minutes the train stopped, my husband and I looked through the window, we are still inside the tunnel so we thought not there yet. And then we heard someone from outside of the train said “Riomaggiore stop”. We went to the door, pressed the button, and the door open…..it was the train conductor and we found out that due to shorter platform of Riomaggiore station, some sections of the train are inside the tunnel. Also, there are villages with even shorter platform that you can only get off from the center sections of the train!

We followed the crowd and walked through train station tunnel, see how different it looked than Manarola’s?

I felt like I was walking through an aquarium with the blue glassy ceiling. Then there are colorful tiles!

After we walked out of the tunnel, the color village woah!

Both end villages of Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore and Monterosso are the larger villages of the 5. We saw people dragging their luggage to their accommodation…I was thinking it’ll be probably pretty hard to find it but shouldn’t be a problem with friendly locals pointing to the right direction! There are a lot more shops and restaurants since it’s a larger village.

The town is a lot bigger than I thought!

And much more prettier!!!

 

There was no map of the village – one main street and tons of side streets, I loved the off-the-beaten path to explore it on our own!

We saw a church and walked in…there is at least one church in each of the 5 villages and I think we almost went in all of them 🙂 Simple and pretty!

Very cute house entrance!

Riomaggiore is like a “V” shape, we walked up to the other side of the “V” and there’s another bigger church there!

The grey-white arch columns reminded me of Cordoba but only that those are red-white like candy-cane. The view from the plaza outside of this church is one of the best photo spots!

The “V” shape of Riomaggiore!

Love this pink flower tree on the plaza!

We continued to walk straight up see where it lead us!

Many steps…

My husband said “you are taking me on a diet trip again with those stairs” LOL! But totally worth for the view!!! WOW, Riomaggiore is beautiful!

Another but smaller church up here:

People must be hanging out here at night 🙂

I think that’s part of the Lovers’ Lane that heads to Manarola!

One day…when it reopens…we shall come back to “hike” it!

There’s a fortress-castle like up here and we walked up for the amazing view of the whole village!

It looked like a toy-land, it was so unreal!

On the left side was the church we just walked from and the main street! Time flew by when we have fun – it’s already 11 am!!! We walked back down…a painting on a wall:

We took a shortcut path down – very narrow!

In no time we were back down to the main road. We walked out to the marina, searching for the postcard photo spot…

Hum…couldn’t get the full angle of the village! We concluded that those postcard photos must be taken from the sea on a boat! Another transportation between the 5 villages is by boat but they are costly for a day pass – 20 euros. Since we bought the week long train pass, we didn’t want to pay extra. However, there’s a cheap option for a boat ride – one segment ticket, that is from Riomaggiore to Manarola one way for only 4 Euros each. You can check the time table and rate from this website: http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/. Note that they accept cash only! We bought the tickets and walked down to wait for the boat and more photos:

There’s no big docking port in Cinque Terre so hold on to the rails when boarding and departing the boat; it could be very rocky!

That ship headed to another direction so we waited for the next one. Sun was quite strong and hubby found a shaded spot!

The boat finally here and we were among the first ones in line so once we boarded the boat, we headed straight to the upper deck and sat on the right side. The sun was burning hot, luckily, I had my fan that I bought from Alberobello haha!

The boat started to move…camera ready! Yay the postcard view of Riomaggiore!

Totally worth the 4 Euros each boat ride! In just a few minutes, there’s Manarola – we are back!

We got off and it was crowded with day-trippers and tours!

A guy was jumping off the rock, it was entertaining to watch!

We walked to the train station and took the next train to Monterosso.

We followed the crowd once again and walked out to the village….the only beach village of Cinque Terre! It looked more like a resort town 🙂 The color of the water looked great!

It was already lunch time and I did research beforehand on where to have lunch – La Cantina Di Miley. We sat on a table outside with the view of this:

Hubby ordered a local beer, he said he wanted to try it out! He said it was good and refreshing!

We ordered steam mussels – the portion was huge! It was pretty good, I liked the sauce!

We both ordered the seafood spaghetti. We ordered seafood spaghetti in almost every single meal in Cinque Terre since it’s known for seafood!

Portion was good too!

Every single restaurant’s seafood spaghetti were different haha so we didn’t get bored! This one was good but I think it would be better if it had more other seafood rather than squid. Total for our lunch – 48 euros.

We walked inside to the restaurant to use the restroom, it was quite big inside!

After lunch, we walked all the way to the end of the beach where we saw this giant rock…

do you notice the rock statue of a man sitting there?

Flowers that I never seen before like flowers within a flower!

There’s a doorway but it said private only so we headed back. More cute houses!

We kept walking down the other direction…..here is the postcard spot of Monterosso:

Look at how clear the water is!

Two ladies got down there….

Just when I thought that was it of the village….there’s a tunnel…

At the end of the tunnel is the other section of the village! Now that’s more Cinque Terre feel!

That yellow bridge is the train track!

There are a lot of shops in Monterosso!

Of course, there’s a church…bigger church because it’s a bigger village!

And another church:

We walked around the village and more photos – another beautiful village!

Those tomatoes must be good!

I found Monterosso is very cute that it has many small stairways and arches connecting two buildings!

Restaurants and bars on side roads.

Before heading back to the train station, we saw a stairway up somewhere….we had to check it out!

We were right again, nice views of the village!

I zoomed in as much as I could, there’s Vernazza on the back!

We walked up to the status of San Francesco (I think):

There, it has a panoramic view of both sides of Monterosso:

Next, we catch the train to Corniglia – the only village on top of the hill without a marina so train is the only way to reach it….

and there’s no tunnel….and the walk from the train station to the start of the stairways of the village was extremely long! No shade too; it was burning hot! Note there’s no convenient store along the way between the train station to the village center so make sure you have water before heading to Corniglia!

But there are people selling hats! I think they’ll make more money by selling iced cold water instead! The start of the dreaded stairways!

‘It was NONSTOP zig-zagging up OMG!

You see how long of a walk it is from the train platform to the stairways…I don’t get why didn’t they built the platform closer?

We finally made it – I think I stopped at least 4 times to drink water and rest! Once we reached up the hill, there is a sign pointing to the center of the village….but with two different ways!

Unfortunately we picked the longer way which is right and then straight instead of taking the left side! Half way to the center, my flip flop broke OMG!!! It was karma!!! Few years ago when we went to Cancun, hubby’s flip flop broke and I laughed at him LOL now it’s my turn blah!!! Worst thing is we were in the smallest vilalge of all the five villages….there were plenty of shops selling flip flops in Monterosso but will there be any in Corniglia? I didn’t know how to even walk to the center 😦 I was hopping..seriously! My lovely hubby told me to walk in small steps while he ran to the center to see if he could find any shop that sell flip flops. He found it and told me…it wasn’t too far away. What a relief! I hopped to the shop, oh boy how awkward….but very lucky that it has my size. It was not great looking but 10 Euros, at this point, I will pay any price regardless how it looks!

Good-bye my favorite pair of comfy Coach pink flip flop! You served me well – I think I walked over hundreds of miles on you!

I need a little treat – there is a gelato shop across the road and has a Trip Advisor certificate sticker so it must be good!

It was so good – very smooth and creamy…although they didn’t have my new favorite flavor – melon!

Hubby saw a sign of their special “jumbo mango smoothie” and ordered it…..it wasn’t jumbo size – it looked more like a medium -.-

But at least it was good – I can taste that it was made from fresh mangos! The shop outside:

More photos of Corniglia:

Their church!

On the back of the church, there’s a basketball court, and there has view of the ocean and cliffs:

The vineyards on the hillside:

Hubby wanted to check out the church he saw when we walk into the center village so we walked there to check it out!

It looked plain on the outside but the inside is the complete opposite! Wow it’s the grandest looking church of all the churches we went in so far in Cinque Terre!

We came out and walked along the “edge” for better angle of the village on top of the hill!

Hum…is this used to squeeze the grapes?

We headed back down to the train station, it was so much easier to walk down…zig-zapping down!

It was already 6 pm when we got down, where does my time goes? We decided to head back to Manarola since we’ll be staying in Vernazza tomorrow anyways so we can explore that tomorrow! We visited 4 out of the 5 villages today, I was thinking it must be very rush for day-trippers to see all 5 villages in one day and we started early before they arrived too! I was so glad that I decided to stay in Cinque Terre for 3 night, we took our time to enjoy the beauty of Cinque Terre!!!

The train to Manarola was delayed for 15 minutes then another 15 then another..that it was late for an hour GRRRR. By the time we got back to Manarola, it was almost sunset time! Even though we were tired, we walked to the prime photo spot for sunsetting photos!

 

The sun sets in the direction directly lighting up Manarola and it turned golden!

We didn’t stay till it completely set since we were starving! We walked to Il Porticciolo, which is only a few houses away from our hotel. We didn’t have reservation and had to wait for like half an hour! There is a small bench outside the restaurant luckily! We saw a guy selling his paintings inside the restaurant.

We finally got seated! We ordered the steam mussels of course!

A lot of it was overcooked, not as good as the ones we had in lunch. We also ordered the stuffed mussels…it was okay. I thought the tomato sauce over-powered the seafood taste of the mussels.

Hubby ordered the fisherman’s plate…it was surprisingly good!

We finally had a chance to try their lobsters…the texture was different than our Boston/Maine lobster.

I ordered…you may already know…seafood spaghetti!

This one has razor clams! I do like it but not as good as the one I had last night at Marina Piccolo. Total for dinner was 53 Euros, not bad at all for the amount of seafood we had!

After dinner, we strolled down to the marina for the sunset:

 

We had dessert – melon gelato again from the same shop! There was a line, it must e a popular place!

The guy only charged me the price of one scope when I ordered (and he gave me) two scopes hehe 🙂

It was a great way to end our day with the yummy melon gelato! Manarola – we had a great stay for 2 nights!

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2 thoughts on “Exploring 4 of the 5 Cinque Terre Villages

  1. Love your post! Great photos 🙂 I don’t know how you wear thongs all day long though! I thik you need to invest in some good walking shoes. Do you feet get sore in thongs?

    • Haha, my sandals are very comfortable that I can walk all day long on those 🙂 If the trip is specific aim for hiking, then I would bring sneakers like going to national park.

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