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Travel Diaries- Cinque Terre, Italy

Colorful houses, little narrow alleys and so many steps that led to nooks and crannies and amazing little treasures... Cinque Terre, Italy is incredible. 

Italy is just a quick hop on a plane from London- and starting the second week in Europe, we got up early and caught a flight from London to Genoa, Italy. About 2 hours and 50 euros later- and we were taking our first breath of Italian air.

Something you may not know- my husband is half Sicilian- so Italy was definitely on the list of places we want visit. We are planning a trip to explore more of the country by itself on separately but I was so excited to be able to squeeze in 3 days in Cinque Terre this trip.

Cinque Terre is the '5 villages' and I might add 5 of the most amazing little coastal villages.

The villages are built on the sides of the mountain, overlook the ocean and are surrounded by beautiful landscapes and are painted the most delightful shades of warm mediterranean colors.

We stayed in the most charming little town of Riomaggiore which is the bottom of the 5 villages.  This photo above is the view from our bedroom window.  These are all just iphone snaps- I haven't even downloaded the big camera photos yet.

By the time our train arrived it was after 4pm- which was perfect for wandering Riomaggiore when the travelers were all starting to wind down a bit for the afternoon.

I loved the incredible amount of charm and character the old buildings-  and the local folks had.
From shutters on the windows- to the laundry blowing in the breeze- to the Italian music playing in the shops- it was enchanting.

We rented a house/apartment right in Riomaggiore which overlooked the sea and was incredible. The house was 4 levels- with spiral staircases to get to each level and there were balconies on two of them- this one was just off the kitchen.

After exploring a bit, we picked up food in the village and climbed the steps back to our little home away from home for the evening.

I slept like a rock that first night- I always sleep well by the water and listening to the ocean was so relaxing.

Something I will share more about in a separate post is about staying in a house rather than a hotel. We only stayed in a hotel 1 night out of the 2 weeks we were in Europe- and I highly recommend renting a home or apartment. One of the best things about where we stayed in Riomaggiore was that we were literally right in the village and able to experience what it is like staying right there in a home. We shopped the local markets each day for fresh veggies and cooked our breakfasts and dinners there- aside from picking up fresh made focaccia bread - which was so delicious.

In the morning, we got up early and went out climbing and exploring. Each of the villages in Cinque Terre are built on hillsides- so there are A LOT of stairs. I believe each day we were there, my phone app said we climbed over 110 flights of stairs a day- and my app is usually about 1/3rd less than my husbands even when we are out together doing the same exact amount of mileage - so I take that number as being low.

There are stairs everywhere- nooks and crannies and little alleys to explore around every corner.

That led to the most amazing old architecture and views again and again.

We stayed in Riommagiore and hopped the train and explored each of the 5 villages  over 2 days.

And honestly, I could probably do a blog post on each one separately because they were so enchanting - I probably took 100 photos in each one.

If you are going and want to stay in the most accessible, least amount of stairs and most - I would say 'modern' of the cities- Monterosso is the top spot. It had a ton of shopping and restaurants and a lovely beach area where we plopped for an hour and soaked up that Italian sun for a bit after lunch.

We also rode the train down to La Spezia- which is a large town below Riomaggiore. We had a fun laughter filled stop in a local market - which was a larger one more like the size of smaller markets we have in the U.S.- where the little markets in the villages are small- one room type markets.

We probably spent about an hour in the market looking for each item, googling what some things were and trying to pretend we were locals and totally knew what we were doing.
BUT...we did not understand how the market worked with weighing and tagging your own produce and fresh pastas, cheese, etc and we might have gotten yelled at before the cashier realized we had no idea what we were doing haha.
Between us speaking little Italian and her speaking little english- I am sure we looked like deer in the headlights as she tried to tell us what we did wrong. 

And in a random light bulb moment (it happens on occasion haha) I said to my husband
 ' I think she's saying we need the number for the produce so she knows what to put in the register...'  and a kind Italian gentleman behind us in line nodded a big yes.
 I was like 'YES!!!I can do that!' and ran off to find the numbers- and he chased after me with our produce and fresh pasta to help (because I forgot to bring it with me to weigh it haha)
He also spoke very little english- but his smile was so kind and we both laughed when I said
'We don't look anything like tourists, right?' 

Those moments and experiences with the local folks - beyond the most incredible part of our trip.  And the two places we found that were in Italy and in Roquebrune, France- which I will share next.

A few things to note if planning a trip:

Cinque Terre is a very popular spot for tourists- we lucked out because the villages were not too busy until it was the weekend. So plan accordingly for your visit if you don't like to ride the train like a sardine or rub elbows with everyone walking through the alleys.

Most of the local residents in Cinque Terre speak english and are happy to help if you need anything.
Outside of the Cinque Terre area,  we met a lot of people who spoke very little or no english -and pair that with us knowing mostly conversational or basic question/answer Italian and well- it was not the easiest - but also know that a smile can break that language barrier and they are very kind and understanding.

No way around it- if you are going to explore Cinque Terre, stairs are a big part of it. We saw older folks as well as younger folks climbing them- and they do have rails - so just take your time.
A bonus though? I have been no pasta and low carb for several months but being vegetarians in a fishing village- our options were slim. We cooked and ate pasta, bread and cheese literally every day while in Italy. ( so bad- but so good) And we both actually lost weight- over 5 lbs each.  I know it wasn't the bread haha-  I am sure because we did so much climbing and walking each day- so each step might be a bonus if you are trying to lose a few pounds.

We had a few mishaps on the trains. haha. There are not attendants at each station to help you find the right train, buy a ticket, etc. so we might have gotten on the wrong train ( I like to say I travel with Clark Griswold from Vacation) Thankfully it was going the right general direction but we had to buy an additional ticket to get back to where we were trying to go. Did I mention that we basically laughed our way through Europe? We did. Literally there was something we laughed about.

If you are planning a trip to Italy- I highly recommend touring Cinque Terre.
It was wonderful and it is a place that I think is so special and charming- we really enjoyed it. Coming your way next- the medieval village in southern France that we both absolutely fell in love with.


  1. More! I love travel diaries! Thanks for sharing your trip with us, it is so beautiful there.

    1. Once I get all the photos processed I will absolutely share a few more from Cinque Terre- and you will LOVE the next stop - magical!!

  2. So beautiful.....thank you for taking us with you : )

  3. Robyn from BC CanadaMay 22, 2019 at 4:32 PM

    I am so happy to see this post. Cinque Terra is definitely on our to do list. We love Italy and are travelling there as frequently as possible. Love the laughing through Europe - it is the only way to enjoy fully and not beat yourself up about mistakes. We made plenty during our last trip to Paris, Venice, Lake Como and Milan - including missing our flight home so needed to stay overnight in Munich :) but it always works out in the end with better memories and much more laughter after the fact. Great post and great attitude - thank you

    1. Oh you will love it!! It was incredible and full of so much charm and character- and the people are so kind. Yes on the laughing!! We literally didn't have one day that we didn't do something we laughed hysterically about. It was great :)

  4. Sounds wonderful. I smiled about your grocery store experience. Something happened to me at a village store in Ireland. You had to weigh each veg and put price sticker on yourself before checkout. But at least everybody spoke English lol

  5. Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Beautiful pictures and inside information about Cinque Terre. What a fabulous time you must be having!

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    1. We live in California-and love it here- but we so enjoyed being in Europe for a couple weeks!

  7. Is it very noisy with so many people living so close to gather? It is a beautiful place. If it were in the states, some one would want to raze it and build the first ocean golf course. I wonder how old some of those places are.

    1. It was noisy when the tourists were wandering everywhere- but actually very peaceful in the evenings and mornings- we didn't notice any noise.

  8. Love your post. Gives a real version of what to expect. Can't wait for the France one as I would love to go but unless I win the lottery isn't probably going to happen. So I can live vicariously through you.

    1. I will be sharing a few tips on how we saved a ton of money on this trip- you might be surprised at we spent for 2 weeks in Europe. I think there are definitely ways to travel on a dime- hopefully it might help get you there

  9. Have never been to this part of Italy, thank you for all the photos and tips! My husband took me to Sicily to meet his family a few years ago, made it into a 3 week road trip from Belgium to Agrigento. If you go to Sicily you have to stop by Taormina! The cutest town with amazing views! And if you have the time go up to the Amalfi coast in Italy! You won't believe your eyes!

  10. Magnificent!!! Cant wait to see more pictures! Italy definitely on my bucket list!

  11. We were in La Spezia last April. It was so quaint! And lots and lots of stairs!! Riding the trains to go somewhere was a new experience for us. Great pictures bring back great memories!

  12. Love, love, love...

  13. What gorgeous pictures! Brought back some wonderful memories. We spent several days in Cinque Terra in Vernazza. Stayed in a room over a coffee shop and had cappuccino every morning on the cobbled street. I can't wait to go back. Hugs, Pat

  14. Headed to France next week with my daughter and SIL...he's French, so we'll do like the locals do! haha Our home base is his hometown, Fountainbleu. We're staying in an apartment over a retail store, right down from Napoleon's castle, next to a Bistro...I'm beyond excited!! Hope I can get some great shots like you...loved all the photos!!