The UNESCO World Heritage site, Cinque Terre (pronounced as CHINK-weh TAY-reh) on the Italian Riviera coastline, has recently become a popular tourist destination in Italy and one of the most photographed too.
Cinque Terre, which means the land of five towns, consists of five glorious fishing towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces; harbours are filled with fishing boats and restaurants with delicious seafood specialties. The most frequent way to visit this place is a day trip from Rome, Florence, Milan or Pisa. There are also several local tour companies organizing combined day trips to Cinque Terre and Pisa from Florence and Rome.
So, if you just have only one day to explore, you really can’t afford to waste time and that’s why knowing the exact spots to photograph from can be very useful! In this post I share all my tips for getting there and capturing this magical place!
GETTING TO CINQUE TERRE
I was travelling solo in Italy this summer for 2 weeks, and I was most excited to discover Cinque Terre. Thankfully cars are banned in the National Park and there is a 19th-century railway line cut through a series of coastal tunnels which connect all the five towns. There are ferries going from village to village; and there is a walking trail too.
To go to Cinque Terre, you have to get to a place called La Spezia. And if you are not driving, and are not interested in an organized tour, like me, then train is the best option (check the train timings in advance on websites like GOEURO).
From La Spezia train station, you can buy the Cinque Terre Rail Card which gives you full day unlimited access to the train line connecting the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line. My recommendation is to take the train and go to the last town Monterosso and make your way back to Riomaggiore, from there it’s a 5 mins train ride to La Spezia.
Here are the best spots for photography in the order of travelling route:
PHOTO SPOT 1: WALKING TRAIL FROM MONTEROSSO TO VERNAZZA
From Monterosso train station, you can get the map of the entire walking trail across all the 5 villages, but follow the directions towards Vernazza, which takes around 1.5 to 2 hours. This is the view of the largest beach of Cinque Terre in Monterosso (there is another small beach in Vernazza, but the other towns don’t have any beach).
More views of Monterosso as you hike up the hills towards Vernazza.
Panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea all along the trail.
Towards the end of the walking trail, before decent, you will get the top view of Vernazza town.
PHOTO SPOT 2: VERNAZZA HARBOUR
The next best photo spot in Cinque Terre is the colourful fishing boats at Vernazza Harbour. These provide an amazing colourful front drop to the town of Vernazza and the perfect backdrop for your photos. Leave plenty of time to explore this area, take photos and make sure you capture one of yourself!
PHOTO SPOT 3: MANAROLA TO CORNIGNILA WALKING TRAIL
Take the train from Vernazza to Manarola and then walk in the direction of Corniglia (away from Manarola). You will get to some elevation while walking on the hills aong the terraced vineyards and will notice Manarola town to your left.
Keep walking until you cant see the Manarola town anymore and it lies behind you; then you should be able to find another connecting trail that leads you back to the town through a church/cemetery and the town is again to your left. The cemetery is a great spot for pictures.
Then from the cemetery, make your way to the harbour, through the restaurants (all this while, Manarola town should be to your left)
PHOTO SPOT 4: MANAROLA HARBOUR
The walking trail leading to Manarola harbour is completely concrete and protected by railing and cant be missed (you can see it from a distance too) And along the trail you get the post card pictures you dreamed of!
PHOTO SPOT 5: RIOMAGGIORE
Take the train from Manarola to Riomaggiore. The best shot of this town is from the line of rocks on the harbour.
You can also take the step’s up (to the left of the harbour) and get some top views.
Despite the huge population of tourist’s visiting this place every day, Cinque Terre has successfully maintained its rural, laid back vibe and has not fallen prey to urbanization yet! I hope this article has inspired you to visit one of Italy’s most colourful towns and helped you to discover it’s most photogenic spots!
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