I have many happy places, and I’m officially adding Vernazza to that list.
I had heard so many wonderful things about Cinque Terre, I was starting to wonder if it could all possibly be true.
And as we sat on the regional train from La Spezia, through tunnel after tunnel of the mountainous hillside, there was an audible gasp on our train. There she was, the Mediterranean Sea.
Cinque Terre is made up of five small villages built on the hillsides of the Ligurian Sea, part of the Mediterranean. We stayed in Vernazza during our three, too short, days we spent in Cinque Terre. Today I’ll post on Vernazza, and I’ll share later on the other towns we visited, as well as our hike.
Vernazza is the second-most northern of the five towns and has a rocky beach and calm harbor. It was a welcome retreat after the bustle of Rome.
Your itinerary should include:
Sunning on the rocks in the peaceful harbor. Bring a book and a snack!
Maybe you’ll even fancy to have a swim.
For a change of scenery, walk through the tunnel to the rocky beach. The water over there is much colder! But that is also where the waves are.
Walk up and down the short beach and see how much seapottery and sea-terracotta you can find.
I even managed to bring home a handful of seaglass to add to my favorite collection.
For a mid-day snack, try one of the area’s specialities: focaccia bread, pesto, or fresh anchovies.
Or there’s always the old stand by:
While this may sound like an uneventful day, believe me, the day will be over before you know it. You can’t get lost in Vernazza, so climb the many, many, many narrow staircases and enjoy exploring the town.
As far as siteseeing, there is a small church right in town. Oyou can also climb to the top of the fort, where they used to keep watch for pirates. There is a small fee to visit the fort, and if you plan on hiking the next day you’ll see much better views from there, so we didn’t bother going in.
While you are gallivanting about town in the afternoon, you had better scope out all the restaurants and make a reservation. Most places shut down from 5pm-7pm, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get into the restaurant of your choice without a reservation.
We choose Ristorante Belforte, and it was possibly the best meal we had on our whole vacation! I strongly recommend making a reservation for 7:00pm and showing up right on time – otherwise you will miss out on the best tables!
Dip into the fresh local foods! If you’re a seafood-junkie like myself, this will be a heavenly experience. If you’re less adventurous, there are options for you too.
While I’d recommend not missing the Ristorante Belforte experience, to anyone who is going to Vernazza, you certainly don’t have to spend a lot of money for a delicious dinner with a seaside view.
Case in point, our dinner the next evening:
The town definitely fills up in the daytime with people who are hiking or training through the five towns.
There aren’t any real hotels in Vernazza. You’ll need to rent a room from a small operation. We booked a room at Affittacamere Rollando. It was a simple room on the main street in town.
Check-in is only from 3-5pm. Pay with cash and they’ll take about 10 euro off the bill.
The power situation in Vernazza is tenuous, which we had read about, but also experienced! Only having plugged in an electric kettle for tea, we blew the fuse – so when the hostess shows you where the fuse box, you’ll know why!
While Affittacamere Rollando was perfectly fine, I think we would have preferred staying off the main street. The morning market traffic brought a lot of noise.
Getting to Cinque Terre
From nearly any main train station, you’ll need to switch at La Spezia to get to Cinque Terre. There is a regional train between the five towns every 1-2 hours. We missed the first regional train because we weren’t sure what to do when we got to La Spezia – look at the posting on the boards when you get out of the train! Or else you can sit in a fancy Italian McDonalds for an hour. 🙂
Vernazza was amazing! Truly a vacation destination. I think we could have stayed there for a month.
Have you been to Cinque Terre?