We wanted to go to this place for a while, so we decided to go there on our 5 free days. After considering all the options, going by car seemed like the cheapest one. The closest airports are in Pisa and Genova… We therefore had 3 days to go discover with our backpack these beautiful little villages with coloured houses at the seaside, composing the Five Lands, in Italy. Situated South of Genova, this national park is classified at the UNESCO world heritage.
> The currency is the Euro.
> The power sockets are the same as in France; get an adapter if yours are different.
> It’s a very touristic destination: think about booking as soon as possible and rather go, if possible, during low season and during the week; that’s what we did and indeed, we haven’t been too annoyed by the amount of people there.
> Plan to have cash: some establishments dont accept cards (there are cash dispensers/ATM in the villages), and to pay the non included taxes for the accommodation, for example. We found ours via Airbnb and Booking.
> The villages are accessible by car, but you will have to park in car parks that are quite far away from the villages: not very practical and probably expensive. It’s better to go from one village to the other by train (4€/person/ticket; there are train passes also), or on foot by getting a hiking pass, which we talk about more down below. We chose the second option, more convenient and economical.
> There is an information point at each train station.
After leaving our car at the Piazza D’Armi car park in La Spezia (free, yay!) we went to the the La Spezia Centrale railway station thanks to a shuttle; the stop is at the exit of the car park, you can’t miss it. The villages of the Five Lands are therefore all accessible by train, and are very close one from another. We chose this way of transport for the first day, because the hiking trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola is closed until April 2021 (more informations here).
We therefore get on the train heading towards the first village: Riomaggiore.
It’s a small fishermen village. When out of the railway station, you are directly in the village. Wander in the pretty streets. Go see the marina, accessible by a pedestrian tunnel. You will see small boats moored in the creek, and beautiful coloured houses overlooking the sea. It’s time to take THE picture (like all good tourists!). It’s only the first village, and we’re already blown away.
We then hop on the train towards the next village, in which we’ll spend the night: Manarola.
Oldest village of the Five Lands, it’s our favourite one. After leaving our backpacks at the Airbnb, here we are in the streets of Manarola, at the end of the day; we recommend, if you have the possibility, to sleep in some villages to be able to enjoy them without the crowd of the day. It was really nice to peacefully walk along the handrail overlooking the village, and have time to take plenty of pictures.
We then went to eat a pizza at “La Scogliera” (think about the taxes, 2,50€/person…). The sun is going down, we had a hazelnut ice-cream at “La Planoia” (you HAVE to try it, it’s excellent!) for 5€ for the two of us, which we ate while contemplating the sunset on the nice coloured houses. If you continue to walk, you’ll also have a breathtaking view on the horizon and the sea.
Once the sun gone, some lights turn on: the village is as beautiful during the day as it is at night. Plan a jacket or jumper because it’s cold in the evening.
We went to sleep with sparkles in our eyes.
After a good night sleep, we’re heading to the Cinque Terre information point at the railway station. We buy a 2 days hiking pass for 14,50€/person; our mean of transport until the end of our stay will be our legs! Although logically longer, it’s definitely worth it because we saw landscapes and points of view we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see otherwise. We wanted to go to Vernazza, stoping by Corniglia on the way, the third village.
We’re therefore taking the shuttle, included in the pass, next to the Manarola’s post office. Get informed about the times displayed there beforehand to avoid waiting too long on that day. It took us to the village of Volastra, avoiding us to do the hardest part of the hike (we didn’t regret our choice when seeing how much this part was going up, under the heat!).
The pass is necessary for the hiking trail along the coast from Vernazza to Corniglia, but it was closed anyway.
Between land and see, we’re walking for 1h30 towards Corniglia.
We’re seeing the village getting closer and closer each step.
We arrive at Corniglia at lunch time: yay, we eat our picnic in the shadow, next to the church. We’re wandering in the little streets, home to shops, restaurants and bars. There are several points of view overlooking the sea. We’ve walked around quite quickly: the village isn’t that big, and we’re looking forward to arriving to Vernazza.
We’re back to hiking, towards Vernazza this time. This hike seems harder; maybe because it’s the second one of the day with our heavy backpacks! It took us 1h30. At our arrival, we’re overlooking the village and as the picture testifies, it’s truly beautiful.
At the end of the hike, we’re directly arriving in the main pedestrian street of Vernazza. We’re leaving our bags at the accommodation, since we’ll sleep here tonight. That done, we’re strolling in the streets of the village.
At the end of the shopping street, there’s a square with shops, restaurants, bars, ice-cream shops… And a dam where it’s possible to sit down and enjoy the view either on the village, or on the sea.
Some facades would need new paint, but the village remains pretty. It’s possible to go see the castle for 1,50€/person. Diner time approaching, we order takeaway pizza to avoid paying 5€ of taxes, and eat them in the sun, on the edge of the sea. It was very nice, and cheaper! We recommend it. We also bought a beer and a soda at the little grocery store and had them at the same place too. Saving money while having a good time, perfect! Here is how to end our day beautifully.
Today, we’re leaving a little later than usual because it rained. Once it calmed down, we went on the hiking trail towards the next village: Monterosso, the biggest one of the Five Lands. This walk is quite hard at the beginning, but the second half is easier.
Here we are in Monterosso after a 1h30 hike (instead of 2 hours). Mixed feelings of pride and nostalgia, since it’s the last village of the Five Lands. Its particularity is that it’s really at the edge of the sea, and has the biggest sand beach of the national park. Besides, this village is in 2 parts: the one you can see at your arrival, and the other one, hidden behind the cliff, and accessible by a small road.
We’re spending most of our time in the first part of the village, where a little market is taking place. We buy a few souvenirs in the small shops. The restaurants are crowded; it doesn’t matter, we already had our picnic facing the sea, starved by the hike!
We’re then heading towards the second part of the village, walking along the sea like the Promenade des Anglais (in Nice), but with lots of ice-cream shops. We wanted to go see the “El Gigante” statue, but it was apparently in renovation, under scaffolds! Too bad. We’re sitting down on a bench in a park for a few minutes, before taking the train back to La Spezia.
Yep, it’s the end of our stay in the Five Lands: we’re back at our car late afternoon, and going to the last Airbnb before an early departure towards Montpellier the next morning.
After admiring more than once the Five Lands on social medias, we finally went there, and it was up to our expectations: stunning, the pictures can testify of that! We recommend you to visit them in the same order as we did.
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