I spent the Easter weekend in 2015 in Cinque Terre with my mum. The adorable houses and a good selection of walking paths around the five tiny villages in northwest Italy sounded like a perfect place for a weekend escape. In my last post, I wrote about Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza. This time I’ll write about Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Day 2 – Rain and ice cream in Corniglia
Rain ruined our plans for the day – it would not be fun to walk wet and windy paths. Instead, we took a train to Corniglia. Zigzag stairs with 380ish steps lead up to the village from the train station. The ancient Roman village is tiny but pretty – it does not have an accessible coastline, but it sits on the cliffs looking out to the sea.
Even though there were plenty of tourists in the village, it was peaceful. No traffic, no nightclubs, no neon signs. All of the villages are just as pretty as the postcards depicting them.
Although the day was cold and grey, we made sure to eat enough Italian ice cream. I can see that the buildings and beaches would look even more inviting in the saturated summer sunshine. However, we had to be content with rain jackets and the spring breeze.
Isn’t it just frustrating when you have only a few days to explore a place and the weather makes every plan miserable? This rain meant that we had to sac the visit to a nearby village Portovenere, which is not part of Cinque Terre but is supposed to be lovely. Maybe next time.
Day 3 – Vernezza to Riomaggiore via Manarola Easter Scene
Sunshine woke us up on our last day. It was Easter Sunday. We put on our walking boots and started the about 13km walk from Vernazza to Riomaggiore. Since the coastal paths were closed, we took the high trail that runs above the villages.
The trail was nearly empty, and we got to enjoy the fresh air in peace. The colourful houses of Manarola presented themselves to us after midday. As we looked down to the village that huddles next to a rocky harbour, we noticed strange metal and plastic figures on the hillside. These figures formed a sort of a large nativity scene with people carrying crosses up the hill.
We had just accidentally spotted another Easter tradition. Every Christmas, Easter, and August different scenes are put up to decorate the hillside next to Manarola. They are best at night when they are light up and figures clearly visible.
As we descended to Manarola, we were taken by surprise by the busy streets. Unlike in big cities, restaurants and boutiques were allowed to stay open on Easter Sunday, so the village was full of visitors. We queued for a restaurant to get lunch but continued onwards as soon as we had finished eating.
Riomaggiore was less busy when we reached the hotel and we enjoyed our last night in Cinque Terre breathing in the fresh Italian spring air.
Riomaggiore is the southernmost village of Cinque Terre. Like the others, it is surrounded by terraces of grapevine, olive trees, and lemon trees that climb up above the village. We had a bit of disappointing meal at one of the restaurants and had to listen to our hotel neightbours shouting at each other until early hours. Perhaps this affects my view of the village – I would say it was the least delightful of them all. However, it was well worth visiting.
- What: Cinque Terre, Five villages forming a Unesco World Heritage Site
- Where: Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Italian Riviera, Italy
- Why: Walking paths from village to village, beautiful coastline and colourful buildings.
- Noteworthy: Cinque Terre is busy and touristy, not a hidden secret. Around Easter, Italians visit Cinque Terre, where shops and restaurants stay open, so it can get very busy.