Weekend in Cinque Terre

Buongiorno Italy! Another beautiful day begins in Monterosso as the sunshine spreads out upon the sea. 16 of us traveled from Villa Maderni to the fascinating coastal village for our first weekend here in Europe.

Cinque Terre is the name given to five small Roman villages along the eastern Ligurian coast, known as Monterosso, Vernazza (Picture 1), Corniglia, Manarola (Picture 2), and Riomaggiore (Pictures 3 and 4). The area was made into a world heritage site for its unique, untamed, and virgin Mediterranean landscape.

Man’s work over the centuries has shaped the area without destroying the delicate ecological balance, while enhancing the beauty. The naturally hilly terrain is softened by the construction of terraces and bands for farming, that fall into the sea with steep slopes (Picture 5).

To protect the distinguished environmental and biological resources, the Ministry of Environment established the Cinque Terre Marine Protected Area in 1998, and promotes sustainable socio-economic development compatible with this naturalistic area.

For me, the best way to explore Cinque Terre is hiking, but if you don’t have time to finish the 5-hour trail, one option is to see the area by boat. Four of the five villages lie at the bottom of steep slopes that run down to the sea, while Corniglia is built up on a cliff and can only be reached by train (Picture 6). I felt sad that I could not get there this time, but it looks really amazing from the boat (Picture 7).

My favorite, Monterosso, the largest village of Cinque Terre, is located between two inlets, both lined with little houses, olive groves, and vines, ending with sand and sea (Picture 8). Sunshades and bathers can be seen everywhere on the beach, clustered near the old fishermen homes (Picture 9).

Hiking from Riomaggiora to Manarala is very easy, because they are connected by the romantic Via Dell’Amore- pathway of Love (Picture 10). The thirty minutes trip along sheer rocky coastline is full of spectacular scenery. It is said that when the trail was reopened after World War II, it became a lovers’ meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns. Now couples from all over the world come here to create their own memories.

The day ends after a 7-hour trip that consisted of five train transfers. We finally made it back to Riva! During the one-hour stay in Milano, I was glad to find public bikes outside the train terminal, although comparing them to my hometown Hangzhou (Pictures 11 and 12) it seems like our free public biking system is more popular.

Ciao! Happy National day!

Author: Qiwen Li, Graduate, Urban & Environmental Planning, University of Virginia

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