Having spent a few days in in the bustling city of Florence, I was yearning for a relaxing escape. I had heard so many wonderful things about the stunning villages of Cinque Terre ( click here for the complete guide to Cinque Terre with maps, train from Florence to Cinque Terre, and Cinque Terre Tours), and I thought this was the perfect chance to see the famous Cinque Terre for myself.
Our Cinque Terre day trip from Florence started very early, but I couldn’t wait to for this full day exploration to start! After we boarded the bus, our tour leader started explaining what our day would look like and some history of the areas we were driving through. Arriving in Cinque Terre, our first stop was at the town of Riomaggiore. As we made our way to the city center, I felt as though as I was walking through a classic Italian film. After discussing the location and time of the meeting point, we were given free time to explore the town. I walked along the streets watching as the city came to life with vendors and fishermen preparing for their day. I decided to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and I found a small restaurant perched along a cliff, offering magnificent views of the sea and this seemingly perfect town.
The next town on our visit was the dreamy Manarola. It was from here that I had seen most of the pictures of Cinque Terre. The pastel colored houses seemed to be carefully stacked on one other, a unique contrast to the blue water of the Ligurian Sea. Walking along a small footpath that follows along the cliff, the breathtaking landscape of the area was further revealed. From a scenic overlook on the left side of the harbor, a panoramic view of Manarola, situated carefully along the cliffs, was visible and it was then that I understood all the hype surrounding Cinque Terre. After taking more than my fair-share of pictures, none of which did this town justice, I wandered down to the tiny harbor and spent the rest of my time leisurely strolling through the cobblestone alleys and stopping in local shops.
Moving in between the towns by boat, was one of my favorite aspects of the tour. The stunning villages, while beautiful from various viewpoints within, were even more evocative when viewed from the sea. Traveling between the towns by boat provided unique glimpses of these colorful towns as the suddenly appeared from around the cliffs. Arriving in Monterosso, the long crystal beaches greeted us, and I was pleasantly surprised at how different this village felt than the others. I opted for the lunch inclusion, and as we made our way to the restaurant. Walking through the doors, the smell of pesto and seafood engulfed us. I was very excited to try the pesto, as our guide had informed us that Cinque Terre was located in the region which produces pesto. I enjoyed my traditional Italian meal, which of course included fresh pesto genovese and a delicious dessert. Feeling very full, I explored the town of Monterosso before heading to the beach to enjoy the warm sun and refreshing sea.I was very thankful that I had decided to bring my bathing suit as I made my way along the rocky shore before finding a place to set my stuff and take a dip in the water. The water, which was the clearest I had ever seen, was so refreshing, and much needed after a full morning of exploring in the hot sun. With plenty of beach bars and stands dotted along the shore and with an untouched view of the Ligurian Sea, it was easy to understand while Cinque Terre attracts so many tourists and Italians alike. When our time in Monterosso was coming to a close, we boarded the boat to head toward the final stop of our day, Vernazza.
Vernazza, with its small harbor, felt like a true Italian coastal dream. The town seemed to ooze Italian charm. With iits small church positioned in the cove of the harbor and colorful boats anchored around the port, a visit to Vernazza was the perfect way to end my time in Cinque Terre. Remembering the delicious pesto I had at lunch, I set out to find a store selling local pesto genovese to take back with me as a souvenir of my time spent in Cinque Terre.
As we boarded the bus back to Florence and I looked through the many photos I had taken throughout the day, I was both pleased and exhausted. I had definitely seen a lot, but two things I knew for sure as we drove back to Florence; I would be sleeping very well tonight, and that one day I had to return to this perfect place in the Italian Riviera.