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Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands”, is a small region in northwestern Italy along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. The area consists of five villages built on terraced hillsides among a landscape of woodlands, rugged hills and amazing coastlines of cliffs and beaches. The Cinque Terre National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a very popular tourist destination. The summers in Cinque Terre can be quite warm and tend to attract many tourists, while the spring and fall are less populated though subject to frequent rains. To get into Cinque Terre, one need only take a train from Pisa or Genoa into La Spezia and then continue to the villages via a local train or by taking a boat along the coast.

Cinque Terre, ItalyThe villages of the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Each one has its own unique flavor and style and all are beautiful. Any village that one chooses to visit has its own fair share of hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and youth hostels to stay at. Some local residents even sublet their apartments, for those who wish stay someplace a little more like home. The Cinque Terre is known for its fine dining, boasting more than 200 local dishes. While seafood is what this coastal area is popular for, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. The villages of the Cinque Terre have all the luxuries that a tourist could hope for, including massage, bars, both walking and boat tours, and plenty of places to shop.

Most people visit this area because of the amazing trails that run from village to village through the breathtaking countryside. The Sentiero Azzuro is the main trail which connects all the villages and is a fairly easy five hour hike, though due to the large number of tourists and their impact one must purchase a pass to hike this trail. There are many other free trails that involve a bit more hiking to get around, but the views of the region can be well worth going off the beaten path. Some may prefer to see the region by sea, taking a boat tour or renting a kayak or canoe. Others might choose sign up for one of the walking and wine tours to get a little bit of everything in their visit.

Each of the villages also hosts their own beautiful, historical architecture. Corniglia is home to the San Peitro church, built in 1334 in gothic style. The Church of San Francesco in Monterosso al Mare is a 17th century parish which contains some gorgeous artwork. The Torre Aurora, also in Monterosso al Mare, is an amazing medieval tower that rests along the coast. Just outside the Riomaggiore harbor rests the Torre Guardiola, a nature observation and bird-watching center, for those who wish a stunning view of the area. Aside from these testaments to the past, the villages themselves are wondrous to behold with their own unique buildings in a range of styles that span across the years.

During the tourist season finding a place to stay in the Cinque Terre can be next to impossible, so planning ahead is important. Going during the off-season can be the best way to avoid the crowds if one is willing to get a little bit wet. Either way, for a tourist who just wants to relax or one that wishes to get out and be active, the Cinque Terre has options for everyone.


Liguria, Italy

Liguria is a small coastal region located in the northwestern part of Italy. It is comprised of four provinces, Genoa, Imperia, La Spezia and Savona. This narrow region is bordered by the Ligurian Sea and the Alps mountains making its panoramic views breathtaking. Liguria is filled with rich history, beautiful beaches, fine cuisine and quaint towns which attracts thousands of tourists every year. This long coastline is also known as the Italian Riviera and is characterized with white sandy beaches. Liguria has been an established maritime state since the Middle Ages and seafood is its main staple cuisine. Travel in this region is easy with the railroad network, taxis and buses available. Some of the most popular cities for tourists in the Ligurian region are Genoa, San Remo and Portofino.

Porto Venere and Cinque Terre, Liguria, ItalyGenoa is a bustling city known to be the home of Christopher Columbus. Its winding medieval alleyways offer adventure to the on foot traveler. The early 13th century San Lorenzo Cathedral and the Aquarium of Genoa have become favorite destinations of tourists. The National Gallery in the Palazzo Spinola has a fine collection of art from the 16th to 18th centuries. The Palazzo Reale is an epic mansion that has been renovated into a museum with a collection of art and furniture from Genoa’s sea exploration era.

San Remo is located on the Italian Riviera and is a picturesque city within easy reach from Genoa. Some of its favorite highlights are La Pigna, the Madonna della Costa Sanctuary and the Casino. La Pigna is an historic town in San Remo featuring covered alleys and little squares from the 16th century. the Madonna della Costa Sanctuary is a 17th century building displaying famed paintings by Domenico Fiasella, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Bartolomeo Guidobono. The Casino is a 17th century gambling house which has been frequented by crowned royalty and celebrities. San Remo is a picturesque harbor lined with the finest cafes and seafood restaurants which will provide respite after a day of meandering the streets.

Portofino is a harbor city with a duel personality. It has the charm of a small fishing village and at the same time its harbor is filled with oversized yachts. Portofino is a frequent place of the rich and famous and offers some of the finest boutiques and eateries and luxury hotels . Portofino’s crystal blue waters reveal a beautiful display of aquatic life and can be admired from the nearby hills. There are also available tours for hiking, diving and boating. The Castello Brown is a popular destination of tourists. Castello Brown sits on a hill above the village and provides great views of Portofino and the sea. The medieval castle was the home of Yeats Brown, a British consul in 1870. Inside the castle , furnishings and photos belonging to the family are displayed. On the path to the castle, you can visit San Giorgio Church. This historic church was rebuilt after the last war.

The Ligurian region of Italy is a much desired place for tourists because of its breathtaking beauty, historical heritage and authentic Italian cuisine.