The Cinque Terre (pronounced CHEEN-kweh TEHR-reh) is a rugged portion of coast of the Riviera to the west of the city of La Spezia, in the province of La Spezia in the Liguria region of Italy comprising five villages, "The Five Lands": Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
The Cinque Terre, due to the geographical and anthropomorphic features of the territory in which they are found, represent one of the main tourist attractions of the Riviera of La Spezia and in general of the Liguria region. The orographic context is a naturally rugged, hilly territory, attenuated by the presence of terraces for crops, which degrade towards the seafront in steep slopes.
Man's action over the centuries has modelled the territory without altering its delicate ecological balance by terracing the slopes, an agricultural technique intended to exploit as much as possible the heavily sloping soils which degrade towards the sea, thereby making it one of the most characteristic landscapes of Liguria.
In 1998 the Italian Ministry for the Environment set up the Protected natural marine area Cinque Terre for the environmental protection and the valorisation of the biological resources, for the divulgation and promotion of a socio-economical development compatible with the naturalistic-landscape relevance of the area.
The Cinque Terre belong to the Comunità Montana della Riviera Spezzina.
A passenger ferry runs between the five villages, but it does not stop at Corniglia because it does not have a natural harbor or marina. The boat leaves from Genoa's Old Harbour and La Spezia, Lerici or Portovenere.
A walking trail connects the five villages. The path from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore (roughly, "Lovers Walk") and varies in difficulty from an easy stroll to a rough and physically challenging hike. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia is also easy to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 stairs. The trail from Corniglia to Vernazza is steep at certain places. The trail from Vernazza to Monterosso is by far the steepest. It winds through olive orchards and vineyards and is rough in places, but offers the best view of the bay and the spectacular approaches to both Monterosso and Vernazza.
There are nominal fees to use the more popular walking trails, but the less frequently traveled (and most arduous) are free of charge. All of the trails are tight, and when in the high season, passing sojourners must be collaborative when intersecting. After small rains, the trails clear and the hikes are more easily accessible. The Park has trails that can take hikers high aloft into the high hills of the park, but as mentioned earlier a certain difficulty must be anticipated. Although more challenging and strenuous, these offer different sights then the main Trail.
All the villages have small hotels or inns and there are many bed and breakfasts throughout the area, many with beautiful views of the Mediterranean and the surrounding hills. There is a youth hostel located at the top of the town of Manarola (Hostel Cinque Terre). Also, many small apartment owners in some of the villages have banded together and, in many cases, offer use of their apartments through small, locally-owned hospitality businesses. Because of this arrangement, quality of the accommodations varies greatly; and while many good beds are available, there are often complaints of grungy and overcrowded apartments being rented to visitors. Regardless, this hostel-style shared accommodation is readily available in tourist season, and beds can be found for € 20-30 per night.
Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The mountainsides of the Cinque Terre are heavily terraced and are used to cultivate grapes and olives. This area, and the region of Liguria, as a whole, is known for pesto — a sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. Focaccia is a particularly common local baked product. Farinata is also a typical snack found in bakeries and pizzerias- essentially it is a savoury and crunchy pancake made from a base of chick-pea flour.
The grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made wines. The eponymous Cinque Terre and the Sciachetrà are both made using Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino grapes. Both wines are produced by the Cooperative Agricoltura di Cinque Terre (“Cinque Terre Agricultural Cooperative”), located between Manarola and Volastra. Other DOC producers are Forlini-Capellini, Walter de Batté, Buranco, Arrigoni.