Cinque Terre

       
Cinque Terre

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The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. "The Five Lands" is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.

There are few roads into the Cinque Terre towns that are accessible by car, and the one into Vernazza in particular is now open (June 2012 - but very narrow at many repair spots) to a parking area leading to a 1/2 mile walk to town after the October 2011 storm damage. It is best to plan not to travel by car at all but to park at La Spezia, for instance, and take the trains.

Local trains from La Spezia to Genoa and the rest of the region's network connect the "five lands". Intercity trains also connect the Cinque Terre to Milan, Rome, Turin and Tuscany. The tracks run most of the distance in tunnels between Riomaggiore and Monterosso.

A passenger ferry runs between the five villages, except Corniglia. The ferry enters Cinque Terre from Genoa's Old Harbour and La Spezia, Lerici, or Porto Venere.

A walking trail, known as Sentiero Azzurro ("Light Blue Trail"), connects the five villages. The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore ("Love Walk") and is wheelchair-friendly. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia (still closed in June 2012 for ongoing repairs since the October 2011 damage) is the easiest to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 stairs.
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