Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

Romantic, colorful, and lush, Cinque Terre in the 1960s is one of the primary settings of Jess Walter’s new novel Beautiful Ruins. Porto Vergogna, Italy, is forgotten, a fictional town pushed aside by the nearby resort towns that have gained worldwide fame, but it is the scene of a mysterious romance. Though Walter’s town may not exist, its region is real and thriving to this day. Known for its rough coastline, gorgeous seaviews, and terraced cliffs, Cinque Terre is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cinque Terre is beloved by tourists for its seclusion; cars won’t get you there, but the five towns that make up this coastal region are accessible by train and boat.

By virtue of their location on the northwest coast of Italy, the villages of Cinque Terre are home to some of the best seafood in the world. (Which is why Amy was inspired by Beautiful Ruins to make cioppino.)

Is it any wonder that all this talk of love and food has me dying to hop a plane to Italy? Here are the top three things I would do with a plane ticket and a blank check.

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

1. Grab a room at La Mala, an old house transformed into a bed and breakfast perched high above the sea in the village of Vernazza. Conde Nast Traveler says it’s the place to stay, while photographer Kim Olson writes of her stay there, “With 4 distinct rooms to choose from, La Malà is perfect if you’re looking for the antithesis of a large chain hotel (not that you’d even find that in Vernazza, because it doesn’t exist here).”

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

3904168086 f1a9dae799 b Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

2. Eat at La Lanterna in Riomaggiore. Conde Nast Traveler calls this the place to eat, since “The owner is an authority on local fishing: while you tuck into your spaghetti with conger-eel sauce (surprisingly delicious) he’ll chat happily about the return of the grouper to these coasts and where to go to have it out with an angler-fish.”

Based on the trattoria’s location right in the marina, getting a seat on the cramped terrace is a must.

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

 Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

957134706 293c808d91 o Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

3. Hike from village to village. Yes, there is a train that connects the five towns, but who wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with the resplendent beauty of this region? Lonely Planet has some good tips for seeing Cinque Terre by foot.

7664437758 2c4004a359 b Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

Your turn: Tell us what would top your to do list in Cinque Terre! If you’ve traveled there before, leave us some tips in the comments.

Images via: 1 | 2-4 | 5 | 6 | 7-8 | 9 | 10

7 Thoughts on “Get Away: Cinque Terre, Italy

  1. Hi Amina! Thanks for including my image & review. :)

    I absolutely *love* the Cinque Terre and Vernazza was my favorite of the 5 towns. I’d highly recommend doing the hike between the towns. You’ll be rewarded with some amazing views.

    And if beaches are your thing, be sure to check out Monterosso al Mare as it’s the town with the best beach.

  2. Such a great idea to incorporate travel suggestions into the blog! Headed to Morocco in October and would love to contribute!

  3. Hi! Just got a notification that someone clicked on my photo (the last one of the hike) from your blog and I wanted to say thanks for using it! Cinque Terre is absolutely beautiful and I hope you have the chance to go someday. The last hike between Monterosso and Vernazza was the most challenging one, so if you can do that one, then the rest should be a piece of cake. Happy traveling!

  4. Jackie on July 12, 2013 at 11:17 am said:

    Cinque Terre is absolutely magical. I loved taking a ferry boat from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare rather than the train. The boat was a wonderful way to get a different view of the beautiful towns. Hiking was a lot of fun and the wine tastes a lot better when you’ve sweated all day to earn it. My friend and I hiked from Manarola to Corniglia, the highest of the hill towns. The hike was difficult at times, steep and rocky. But The views were amazing and there was a fresh spring to refill our water bottles along the way. Cinque Terre is still my “happy place” to close my eyes and imagine on a stressful day. I cannot wait for my return trip!

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