Near Florence there are five villages strung like beads on the terraced sides of coastline, their history and character preserved by the very nature of their restricted accessibility.
In 1997 the famous Cinque Terre (five villages) of Vernazza, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and Corniglia and a protected marine area were declared a World Historic site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). In 1999 the area was designated Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, a national park. Ensuring that tours respect the value and cultural significance of the Cinque Terre will want to book with responsible small group day tours from Florence.
Travelling as part of a small group is a delightful way to explore these seaside villages in northern Italy, first from a boat ride along the Cinque Terre coast and then walking the Via dell’Amore (lovers lane) coastal footpath. This little network of trails dates back to the 15th century, taking you through olive groves and along terraced vineyards while you look out at the gorgeous view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Each of the five villages is set into serrated cliffs and villagers live much today as in generations past, working the land to harvest from carefully cultivated olive groves and vineyards. Farming and fishing, and now sustainable tourism, have guarded the special character of each village. Here you experience a part of Italy with no highways, and little overt commercialism. The joy here is walking through variable landscapes of scrubland, farms, vineyards, orchards, and exploring trails or alleys. Visiting the Cinque Terre is visiting a natural beauty comprised of rustic architecture, high cliffs, small beaches, and breathtaking vistas.
As remote as these villages are, they offer stunning examples of architecture. As in the rest of Italy, religious faith is evident in the incredible churches raised across the country using the very best of materials – even in the remote villages of Cinque Terre. Stunning Gothic facades rise up above the terraced coastline, decorated with elegant marble and all the details you see in the churches of bigger cities. There are remnants of the Middle Ages awaiting discovery as well, including castle ramparts and a clock tower.
Ethical and eco-friendly
UNESCO World Heritage and national park status for the Cinque Terre has guarded the five villages from environmental destruction. Visitors know, for instance, measures are in place to ensure that whales will continue to swim from open sea to the protected cape of the Punta Mesco to give birth for generations to come. The villages are connected by train and have electric buses rather than cars and motorcycles. Villagers promote local ingredients, so travellers will enjoy the taste of produce and fish freshly procured nearby as well as wine from local vineyards in restaurants and cafes. The culinary delight of fresh pesto and local lemons or olives aside, there is something to be said for the feeling of enjoying the true flavour of the region knowing you are supporting the local economy.
Book early to enjoy a Small Group Cinque Terre Tour for an unforgettable day trip from Florence.