Cinqueterra refers to five villages on the Italian Riviera (the Levante coast) in the province of Liguria. The villages all have in common the fact that they are precipitously situated on cliffs that seem to topple into the sea. They are also not very accessible — there are few roads leading in and out and only paths connect the villages. From north to south the names of the villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The largest of the towns is Monterosso and, along with Riomaggiore, the most accessible, are the most popular bases of operation for visitors.
You should allocate plenty of time to visit each village because each one has its own particular charm and individuality. Monterosso al Mare’s Centro Historico (Historic Center) contains a medieval tower, the Aurora, and a beautiful, black-striped church, the Chiesa di San Francisco. Vernazza is perhaps the most charming of the villages, with its pink-slate roofs, narrow streets linked by steep steps, and ruins of a medieval fort and castle.
Corniglia is the most remote of the five villages, and has no direct access to the sea. The church of San Pietro, with its pink, Carrara marble, is worth a visit. Manarola has a lively harbor and pretty pastel-colored houses
and is linked to Riomaggiore by the famous Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane), a 15 minute walk.
Walk the well-marked trails between the villages for glorious views of the towns and the coastline. The entire distance between Monterosso and Riomaggiore is about 11 km (7 miles) and can easily be accomplished in one day, even with the obligatory stops for pictures, picnics, etc.