Europe, Family Travel, Hiking

Authentic Cinque Terre

April 14, 2015

How to Discover the Authentic Cinque Terre

I swallowed the bitter taste of disappointment as I trudged along the concrete path. I had traveled to the Cinque Terre, a region in Italy encompassing five small villages on the Ligurian Sea, to hike a famous trail. The crowds and the vendors lining the concrete path were in stark contrast to my vision of a dusty trail through vineyards. I left the day trip convinced that there are far too many tourists in the Cinque Terre for an authentic experience.

Busy train platform in Manarola, Italy

In hindsight, I wondered if my timing was a factor. Perhaps a sunny Easter Sunday isn’t the best time to visit the Cinque Terre. Years later I decided to give the Cinque Terre a second chance. A friend raved about La Torretta, a charming hotel in Manarola, one of the five villages, so I reserved a three-day stay.

Return to Cinque Terre, Italy

Arrival in Manarola on a busy mid-summer day brought back memories, and they weren’t good ones. Serious doubt descended upon me, but La Torretta proved to be a welcome haven from the crush of summer tourists. By nightfall, the crowds had disappeared, and it felt like we had the village to ourselves.

sunbathers on the boat ramp Manarola Italy

Looking out the window at La Torretta, Manarola

The first morning was magical with neighbours chatting over fences, peaceful village streets and views of locals tending their vines. By 10 am the bubble burst, and the crowds returned.

A passenger ferry at the Cinque Terre

Passenger ferry between the seaside villages

La Torretta hotel was our sanctuary when we weren’t exploring the villages by ferry or foot. We found that we could avoid many of the tour groups by departing early in the morning and returning to relax at La Torretta in the afternoon.

Lots of people go swimming off the rocks in Manarola, Italy

With travel, you often have to dig a bit deeper for an authentic experience. This may mean hiring a guide, rising early in the morning to avoid the crowds or committing time to get to know a destination. I am grateful I returned to the Cinque Terre and got to know the area on a deeper level. Have you ever traveled to a destination and found it didn’t meet your expectations? Did you give it a second chance?

Authentic Cinque Terre Travel Tips:

  • For the most authentic Cinque Terre experience, consider staying in one of the villages.
  • The villages are in a national park so you will need to buy a Cinque Terre Card to access the paths.
  • Although it is possible to travel between villages by train, we have always opted for a passenger ferry.
  • I have included a link to La Torretta in Manarola if you are interested in learning more about the accommodation.

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  • Reply Sand In My Suitcase May 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    We haven’t yet visited Cinque Terre – but it’s high on our wish list. It’s a pity there are so many other people who also like visiting :-). But your tips for having an authentic experience are good ones – thank you for letting us know in advance.

    • Reply LuxeTravelFamily May 12, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you for the comment. Everyone loves the beautiful and accessible Cinque Terre. Staying in one of the villages seems to be the best way to guarantee an authentic experience. I look forward to hearing more about your travels.

  • Reply Kiera Reilly May 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    My friend just asked me about Cinque Terre in June. I’ve never been (yet), but I shared this with her. I’m glad you visited again and were able to experience some time there without all the tourist masses!

    • Reply LuxeTravelFamily May 18, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Kiera, Thank you for the comment and for sharing the post. I’m grateful I was able to experience the Cinque Terre without the masses! I hope your friend has an authentic experience.

  • Reply Sinead @ Bumbles of Rice May 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    Another place going on my list!

    • Reply LuxeTravelFamily May 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Excellent! Happy travels 🙂

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