We have been told by a number of people that we just HAD to go to Cinque Terre… that we would absolutely LOVE it, as it is one of their favorite places. So when we decided to go to Provence, we tagged on some time for Cinque Terre. You can see my photos of Provence here…… https://kritterspaw.com/2018/06/04/south-of-france/.
Cinque Terre, literally translates to the 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We spent 3 nights in Riomaggiore and 2 nights in Vernazza so that we could photograph sunset / sunrise in both.
Cinque Terre is certainly an oft photographed place, so many images have been seen and overdone. But it is still made up of beautiful villages cut into the hillside.
The hikes between the villages are the thing to do. But unfortunately, the hike between Riomaggiore to Manarola and Corniglia are both closed (and have been for 7 years since the floods in 2011, with no apparent signs of it ever re-opening). So we wound up taking a train to Manarola to photograph instead. We found Manarola to be our favorite of the villages as it was the quietest and had several different vantage points to photograph.
We hiked from Monterossa to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia trails. We also liked Corniglia, as it was a very quiet peaceful place (as much as that is possible for Cinque Terre).
The views from the hikes were stunning, and starting early proved to be the trick to stay out of the crowds.
Vernazza on the the other hand (along with Monterosso) were our least favorites. While Vernazza was photographic enough, it was stupid crowded.
Though the views were beautiful from Vernazza, as you can see below.
The real story is what we tried to stay away from, and what we didn’t take photos of… the hoards of people. I could never in good standing recommend Cinque Terre to anyone. We love great scenery and taking in the true culture on our travels; meeting the people and understanding their way of life; and immersing ourselves in the places we travel to. Cinque Terre was ‘ruined by Rick Steves’ which we heard more than several times. We were astonished at the gross volumes of tourists flooding the streets, bumping and shoving each other to get to the next souvenir shop. I saw no cheese shops, sausage shops, or charming hand crafted goods – not that we spent any time fighting the crowds or souvenir shopping.
We sat on a pillar and watched the spectacle that has become Cinque Terre…. and we watched an elder Italian man do the same. The disbelief and awe in his face was telling. We talked to a shop keep in a food market about it. The life was drained from his face. He said this isn’t even bad… it’s much worse in August. We were astonished and horrified. Someone nerfed me out of the space I was standing in because they wanted to get a selfie photo of themselves at the space I was occupying. Selfie sticks were outreached everywhere, people walking with their heads in their phones, and their hurried rude attitudes to ‘see the place’ in their allotted time. Not for us. This is not the travel we aspire to do.
Beautiful, yes… but not in the parts that as much as we tried to avoid, which were unavoidable. We cannot contribute or participate in this sort of sea of humanity, once charming, now ruined by tourism. Such a shame to see… truly sad.