What to Do in Cinque Terre, Italy

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Cliffs above Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

What to Do in Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre has been on my bucket list for a long time. The name literally translates to ‘Five Lands,’ and this portion of the Italian Riviera is made up of five towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Read on for my hotel, food, and activity recommendations.

Cars are not allowed in the villages; they are accessible only by paths, trains, and boats. Colorful homes cling to the rugged cliffside, connected by narrow walkways. Above the town, terraces line the mountainside and are used to cultivate olives and grapes. Philip and I hiked up the hillside one morning for a beautiful view of the village below.

Where to Stay:
We stayed at Arpaiu, and the views were absolutely beautiful. Located high on the cliffside, the area was once part of a Medieval castle. The building was renovated in 2003, and is now home to rooms and apartments for rent. We stayed in one of the rooms, which had a small window with a view of the beautiful ocean outside. There is a common area on the top floor with a balcony with breathtaking views. Surprisingly, we had it all to ourselves during our stay, and we loved hanging out up there in the evenings to relax, play games, and take a shameless number of photos.
Our balcony at Arpaiu hotel

Our balcony at Arpaiu

Hanging out on the balcony

Hanging out on the balcony


Games and vino on the balcony at Arpaiu

Games and vino on the balcony

The view from our balcony at Arpaiu

Relaxing after a long day

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Another view of the town from our balcony–this one is around the corner toward the town


The view from our balcony at Arpaiu

The view from our balcony at Arpaiu

What to Do: Hiking
Many people come to Cinque Terre to hike the trails between the five towns. We stayed in Manarola, which is between Riomaggiore and Corniglia on the trail. Unfortunately for us, the Via Dell’Amore (trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore) was closed due to landslides, but we did get to hike the beautiful cliffside trail from Manarola to Corniglia. We woke up early to beat the heat, and were rewarded with some beautiful light for taking photos. The cliffsides were dotted with colorful wildflowers, and a light mist crept over the sea. I was sooo overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded us! They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so here you go:
Hiking in Manarola, Cinque Terre

Overly excited to be hiking in Italy!

Hiking near Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Of course, Philip strikes a normal pose


Flowers on the hiking trails above Manarola

Flowers on the hiking trails above Manarola


The view of Manarola from the cliffs


Poppies near Manarola hiking trails

Poppies along the hiking trails

 What to Do: Explore the Town:

The sidewalks and alleyways are full of twists and turns, so getting around can be an adventure! One of my favorite things to do was just walk around and explore the town. And don’t worry, as long as you know the general direction you’re going, you’ll be okay.

Philip and Alex in Manarola, Cinque Terre

Philip and me walking to our hotel

Narrow alleyways in Manarola, Cinque Terre

Walking the narrow alleyways toward the town square


Cat sleeping on boats in Manarola

A sleepy friend in Manarola

Where to Eat:

It’s fairly impossible to have a bad meal in Italy, but one of my favorite restaurants was Trattoria da Billy. We first went in because of the name, but the food was delicious. Like most buildings in Manarola, the restaurant is built into the side of a cliff, so it is a little cramped, but that is part of the fun! The restaurant had delicious food and a beautiful outdoor eating area.

Cinque Terre is located in the region of Liguria, where pesto originated. Definitely try some while you’re there! There are also lots of good seafood options.

Trattoria da 'Billy' restaurant

Trattoria da ‘Billy’ was delicious!

And one more photo for good measure:

The town of Manarola in the background

The town of Manarola in the background

Well, there you have it! Cinque Terre is hands-down one of my favorite places I’ve traveled. I am excited to create a print that represents everything that stood out to me about these little towns: the narrow alleyways and switchbacks, terraces that climb the mountainside, the pink and yellow homes. To me, the structured style of the other Euro prints doesn’t feel right for Cinque Terre, so I’m working on a collage-style print to reflect the seemingly haphazard way that the colorful buildings hug the cliffside.
It’s not finished yet, but here is an early test print I did as an experiment.

I’ll post on Instagram when the final print is up on the site! In the meantime, shop the City Streets print series!

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