The Cinque Terre (meaning ‘Five Lands’) is a rugged portion of the Italian coast, perched high on the Riviera situated in the Liguria region. It comprises of five small towns made up of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Their coastline and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, the inhabitants of Cinque Terre have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea to cultivate grapes, olives and citrus fruits. The breathtaking views from the hill-top of the harbours below and its coastline along with medieval fortresses make visiting Cinque Terre memorable. The charm of the towns is due to the lack of commercial development. Footpaths, trains and boats connect the villages and other vehicles cannot reach them.
If you intend to do a walkabout of Riomageore, 2 hours would suffice. Thereafter you could take the train to Manarola or the footpath. All five towns are connected by rail.
The five towns of Cinque Terre. Click to enlarge.
The hill-side dwellings of Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore looking out into the Mediterranean sea.
Boulders instead of beach meets the sea.
Ferry coming in to dock at Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore train stop is on a higher elevation above the town.
The narrow and winding steps of Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore from the hill-top.
Another hill-top view.
About the end of the road into Riomaggiore. Only commercial and emergency vehicles can enter here. Private vehicle needs to park on the hill-top.
Walkway upgrading works in progress.
Castle of Riomaggiore on the hill-top.
Hill-top view towards the sea.
Riomaggiore overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
Lemons planted in abundance.
Lemon tree here, there, everywhere.
Lemons and oranges side-by-side.
No 199, Il Pescato Cucinato serves fresh fried mixed seafood for lunch. Since fishing is the core activity of the Terres, do not miss trying out their seafood. Seafood and vegetables dipped in batter and fried. Awesomely delicious.
Despite still having our rental car with us, we decided to take the train to Cinque Terre from Pisa Centrale in anticipation of parking problem at Riomaggiore. We drove to Pisa Centrale which is about 2½ km from Grand Hotel Bonanno and parked our car by the roadside parking lot close to the train station. Being Sunday, it was free of charge, so we do not require to purchase parking coupons nor worry about putting sufficient coins. During normal days you may want to consider parking at Pisa Centrale Parking or at SABA Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II Both are close to the train station.
Pisa Centrale Railway station. There are parking lots along the round-about but already full at 8 a.m.
Railway platforms at Pisa Central.
Online Trenitalia rail ticket. It has a 4 hour validity from the time stated.
Driving route from Grand Hotel Bonanno to Pisa Centrale train station.
Parking lots available near Pisa Centrale station. The red are private, the blue are public.
Train route from Pisa Centrale to Riomaggeore.
Our train arrived on time and the journey took less than 1½ hours. This is a regional train and it stops along the way till La Spezia Centrale, the other major station. It’s then a short 10 minutes ride to Riomaggiore. You’ll disembark and cross over to the other side. The side that you arrived from Pisa, leads to a cliff that drops into the Mediterranean sea.
Once on the other side, you’ll walk into a tunnel which leads to Riomaggiore town. The dwellings are built on hill slopes and quite an exercise walking around Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore train stop.
Looking down the cliff from the platform you arrived from Pisa/La Spezia.
Cinque Terre information board.
sampaisudah.com at Cinque Terre information centre. Long haul double-decker train in background.
From the train stop, walk along this tunnel to Riomaggiore town.