If you’ve been to Italy, especially in relation to Germany, there is a certain chaos that come with all things Italian. Germany is neat and clean and their trains run on time and Germans follow the rules. I’m not saying that all Italians ignore all rules, I’m just saying that in Germany, I have no qualms about paying ,50€ to use the toiletten because it will be clean. Most of the roadside bathrooms in Italy… I would just rather squat on the side of the road (like you see Germans doing e v e r y w h e r e).
When you get to those spots in Italy, the places millions of people take once-in-a-lifetime trips to see… all the chaos and even dirtiness fades away and all you can see is pure magic.
Because we choose to stay in Portoverne instead of one of the main five Cinque Terre villages, we drove through the town of La Spezia. Whenever I plan a trip, I research quite a bit. And there is always a bit of nerves when I finally SEE the result of work, because what is on the internet does not always translate to what’s in real life. And I started to get nervous driving through La Spezia. It is a true port city, meaning that I did not see one beach despite the constant coastline. It was a big city without much charm; at least the part we drove through.
And then I saw Portoverne.
The first time I visited Cinque Terre, it was just my husband and I and we stayed in the sweetest little hotel with a beautiful rooftop terrace in Monterosso al Mare. We spent two nights in Cinque Terre, which was just enough time to hike all of the five main towns – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore – and eat deliciously every night.
TRAVEL TIP If you are headed to Cinque Terre for the first time, I highly recommend that you find lodging in one of the five main villages. It just makes exploring the villages so much easier. This would be my Airbnb pick for Monterosso.
Because we wanted to squeeze a bit more out of our trip than just the hiking – and because my husband and I had been to Cinque Terre before – we stayed in Portovenere. Staying here enabled us to exerpeince Cinque Terre and spend time on the Italian coast. It did take a bit more to get up the coast to Monterosso, we took a boat all the way from Portovenere, and it made for a long day, but I wouldn’t change it. Getting to see all of Cinque Terre from the water was amazing!
Funny story. This outfit I had one is a shirt and shorts and in addition to having my camera around my neck, I had my phone on a lanyard as well. At this point in the day, I had walked the 15 minutes from our Airbnb to the boat, waiting to get on the boat, and then was over halfway on our trip up the coast before the sweetest Italian lady sitting in the booth behind us pointed at what I thought was my phone lanyard. So I told her all about it. I understood the words “costo” and “prezzo” and proceeded to tell her that you can get a lanyard off Amazon, super cheap. We were having this cute little fashion moment together. And then she, very sweetly, reached behind me and showed me that I hadn’t cut the tag off my shirt!! OH. MY. GOSH. What could I do but laugh, and say GRAZIE!
Monterosso al Mare, Italy
If I have to pick a favorite, other than Portoverne, I would pick Monterosso al Mare. I LOVE the beach, the little shops and restaurants. I distinctly remember the meals I ate here eleven years ago AND the lunch we had here ranks as a favorite.
TRAVEL TIP If you’re crunched for time, do the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. They are the biggest of the five cities, but both are worth the time.
We disembarked from our ferry ride from Portovenere and went straight to find lunch. Honestly, we could have just parked it here all day, but we had plans to hike to Vernazza. We decided to sit down at a table that overlooked the beach so the boys could play in the water. Ajax is a fish, so I knew he would go right in. But watching B also run in and out of the water tells you that this beach, and the water, is amazing!
After lunch, we got an Eis and headed towards the hiking trail that would take us to Vernazza; there was more magic to come!