Monterosso al Mare, Italy

Monterosso al Mare is a village in the Cinque Terre, a rugged coastline in the Liguria region of northwest Italy. The houses in all this region were all built on terraces of the high cliffs overlooking the sea. Though popular and full of visitors in the summer, all the Cinque Terra is considered an unspoiled tourist destination and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s quite difficult for automobiles to drive to the Cinque Terre from the rest of Italy — trains, boats and walking paths connect the villages. Train service to Monterosso al Mare began in 1870 and is still the best way to go. Take a local train from La Spieza to the west or from Genoa to the east, or an Intercity train from Rome, Milan, Tuscany or Turin. Ferries connect all the villages by sea.

Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, ItalyMonterossa al Mare has both an old town and a new town. Throughout the town, you’ll find inns, hotels, youth hostels and bed & breakfasts — accommodations can also be acquired in apartment houses through local agents and hospitality businesses. Views of the Mediterranean are spectacular, as are the views inland to the hills.

Monterossa al Mare has the only large sand beach in all of the Cinque Terra. At the far end of the beach, on the other side of the parking lot, the Giant can be seen. It’s a fourteen metre sculpture made of cement and iron in 1910 for the Villa Pastine to represent the ancient Roman god Neptune. Time, the sea and WWII have not been kind to the Giant — he’s lost both arms, a leg and his trident. Other sights to see are the ruins of a Genoese castle high in the hills and, in the village, the 13th century parish church, dedicated to St John the Baptist.

Before the road leading into the village was built, there were only mule trails connecting the villages of the Cinque Terre to the rest of Italy and Rome. These mule trails are now part of the system of hiking paths that enables tourist to explore the hills above the village and even walk to the adjacent villages. Because the trails are now part of the Cinque Terre National Park, fees must be paid to hike all segments of the trails. The Park is considered a protected area, meaning policies are in effect for minimal resource usage and limited development.

The cuisine of Monterosso al Mare focuses on the agricultural products of the region: seafood, olives and grapes. Pesto, made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, percorino cheese and olive oil, is quite popular. Farinata, a crunchy savory pancake made from chick-peas is a local specialty; torta di verdura, a pie made with vegetables, borage and wild herbs is another. Local wines for drinking with meals are the Sciachetrà and the eponymous Cinque Terre. For social drinking, you’ll also find limoncello, a sweet lemon-flavored liqueur, and grappa, a potent brandy made from the by-products of wine making.


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