Cinque Terre is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the world but its beauty draws not just from the natural landscape but the local flavor as well.
Here are five fun things to do in Cinque Terre.
1. Hike the Five Lands
Without a doubt any guide you will ever read, any traveler you will ever encounter, and any local you will ever meet will tell you to hike the Cinque Terre. The view is beyond breathtaking. Each town is situated in a, perfectly picturesque, manner which allows it to shine among the natural landscape while looking so natural it is as if they grew from the ground itself. The hike itself is also lovely, every color is brought to life; the intensity of the blue water, the green vineyards, the many colored homes, the bright white sand, and the rich tan of the path. Walking through the vineyards gives you a sense of the community, you are walking through the vineyards where the wine, which you will undoubtedly be drinking later in the evening, was born, cultivated, and harvested, and fermented to perfection. In short the views will take your breath away, you will feel more connected to the towns and the lands between them, and you will feel overwhelmingly accomplished when you reach the final town and collapse on the train back to your starting point.
2. Swim in the Sea
That glassy blue water you have been gazing at during your hike will be very refreshing, especially if it is a warmer day and you have been working up a sweat. At first the water may be surprisingly cold, but as you swim around and explore the small sea of whatever land you have recently entered, you will warm quickly and enjoy the coolness of the water, as well as the interesting views of the town from it, and the local flavor abounding in it. It is not just tourists who enjoy a fresh dip in the Mediterranean; the water will also attract the young children, usually boys, who find endless joy from jumping off any nearby rocks, as well as a few other natives looking for a nice invigorating swim in the sea.
3. Rent a Kayak, Paddleboat, or some other Seafaring Vessel
The view is not just amazing from the trails; from sea you are offered a new perspective on the land. The cliffs seem larger and more drastic, the water a deeper shade of blue, and the towns larger than they appear from above. Also, the seaside is dotted with little known gems, such as a waterfall between Monterosso and Vernazza which claims to give eternal youth to all who are bathed in its water. It’s worth a try regardless, and the pleasant pool surrounding it where you can jump out and swim makes this taste of local folklore well worth the paddle.
4. Eat Local Cuisine
Each town has a number of restaurants almost all of which serve fresh local cuisine. The wines are grown in the surrounding hillside, as well as the produce, the pasta is often made locally, and the seafood is caught in the sea nearby; the plentiful fishing boats around the city are testament to that. Aside from seafood, which is renown in most seaside towns, pesto is famous throughout the area, maybe even the entire country, as a specialty of Cinque Terre, and it certainly lives up to its fame.
5. Participate in the Local Night Life
Whether it be a wine festival, local pub, or popular gelato shop you will never regret being part of the local activities which abound after many of the wearied hikers disappear for the night. As soon as you get over your outsider status, the people will be warm and curious about you, and very delighted that you are interested in more than the panoramic most tourists come for. Even if you remain a bystander, the locals are full of life and are more than entertaining subject for people watching. You will see such sights as a balding man who looks as if he hasn’t been sober a day in the last 20 years of his life, yet who can spin magically around the dance floor, enchanting all who watch him; a woman wearing a black track suit with black sequins up the side, gold sequined fanny pack, and shiny gold sneakers; an old man in full chef attire boisterously cooking in the restaurant named after him and plasters his photo on the menus, walls, and entrance; there is certainly no lack of interesting characters.
View of Varnazza, Cinque Terre, Italy, by Philip Larson