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North of Tuscany on Ligurian coast lies Cinque Terre, where the sea, the mountains and the people created the landscape of unique beauty, which sends shivers down the spine of every traveler, however jaded. In 1997 Cinque Terre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It consists of five picturesque villages perched on the rugged rocks overlooking the sea, whose beginnings date back to the 11th century.
Part of its charm is the lack of visible modern development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach it from the outside.
We recommend a one day trip to Cinque Terre by train, first from Lucca to La Spezia. In La Spezia you can buy a joint train and ferry ticket. It’s a great idea to get off in the first village Riomaggiore and have a half-hour walk along The Love Walk (Strada dell’Amore) to the next village Manarola and take in the most spectacular views along the way. Then take the ferry to the last village Monterosso, known for the longest beach.
Alternatively, you can take the whole walking trail, known as Sentiero Azzurro ("Light Blue Trail") through Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, which is 10 km long and takes about 5 hours, but bear in mind that some parts of it are very steep and good walking shoes are a must. The hiker’s rewards are unparalleled though. If you go by car, it’s best to take the highway to Levanto (the last stop in Cingue Terre), follow the signs to the train station. Leave your car in the parking lot in front of the station and board the train for La Spezia. You buy one ticket and validate just once, which enables you to hop on and off the train as many times as you wish, stopping in all the villages, taking a walk, a swim or drinking local wine and then on to the next village. An unforgettable experience!