Today photographer Becca Nelson from Chris & Becca Photography in the USA is going to take you on a trip to the rugged Ligurian coast of northern Italy, to the area called the Cinque Terre.
Hiking Around Vernazza in the Cinque Terre
Chris and I recently travelled to 5 countries and 10 cities in the space of just three weeks! There were quite a few cities I wish we could have had more time in, but none quite like Cinque Terre, Italy. We had three days and two blissful nights in Cinque Terre. Cotton candy coloured houses cling to the cliffs above the Italian Riviera, and colourful boats dot the incredibly blue water. I had a feeling this might be one of my favourite places, and I was so right.
The Cinque Terre (literally “five lands”) is made up of five towns up the coast of the Italian Riviera. Vernazza is the fourth town, with only Montessoro being higher up on the map. It’s impossible to reach any of the towns by car, and instead, you need to take a train or boat to get to the cities. Because of this, the towns have an old world vibe that’s almost impossible to find elsewhere.
When we got off the train in Vernazza, we walked down the main street crowded with quaint shops and restaurants just opening for lunch. The buildings are stacked haphazardly on top of one another, with winding stone steps squeezed between them. We found the right steps and started our ascent to our Airbnb. This was probably my favourite Airbnb we stayed in for our entire trip. The view was unbeatable! We were the highest house on the incredibly steep slope of Vernazza, so high up in the city it was actually on the walking trail from Vernazza to the next town! To get to our place, we had to walk up hundreds of stairs, but it was SO worth it. Tourists would stop on their hikes to take photos outside of our door. It was a little satisfying to open the gate and have everyone “ooh and aah” over what an excellent spot it was! Drinking a cool glass of white wine as the sun set over Vernazza on this terrace is one of the memories I’ll cherish most from our trip. There’s really nothing like it! Our terrace included an excellent view of Vernazza’s beach. The beach didn’t exist until massive flooding hit the city in 2011. Although the floods caused a huge amount of damage, they did create a gorgeous beach. You could almost miss the entrance to the beach, which is through a small, mysterious cave!
One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten was at Belforte in Vernazza. The sun sets over the water and you can watch the whole thing from your perch. Our waiter was also super friendly and asked if we would mind if he took a photo of the sunset. “I share the sunset every day on Instagram” he said…what a life! Chris and I each got award-winning (literally) seafood pasta dishes that I’m still having dreams about.
The hike from Vernazza to Montessoro was probably one of the most challenging things we did on this trip, and that includes the 463 steps we took to get to the top of the Duomo in Florence. But the views were even more spectacular than they were from our little Airbnb. Fair warning: if you do this hike, be prepared for hundreds upon hundreds of tiny stone steps, paths that cling to cliff faces, and a really freakin good time. I enjoyed the challenge but was glad that I had been warned ahead of time. And make sure you do the hike from Vernazza to Montessoro if you do go – not the other way around! It’s even more challenging coming from that direction.
After our epic hike, we grabbed lunch in Montessoro, and took the ferry back to Vernazza. The hike is about an hour and a half long in one direction, and we were wiped out! The ferry ride was really fun and gave us a new perspective on the town too.
Vernazza will forever be a place that I recommend to anyone looking to visit Europe. It’s a wonderful destination for weddings, a honeymoon, or just a trip to get away from it all.