The Cinque Terre is a coastal area within Liguria, in the northwest of Italy. It lies in the west of La Spezia, and comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cinque Terre area is a popular tourist destination. Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages as cars can reach them from the outside only via narrow and precarious mountain roads with great difficulty.
La Spezia is a busy port city on the Mediterranean Sea, in the Liguria province of northern Italy. After Genoa, it is the second-largest city in the province. La Spezia is home to a major Italian naval base and is considered a gateway to the Cinque Terre, the famous chain of five picturesque seaside villages. Many travelers use La Spezia as a base for day trips to the Cinque Terre and other nearby points of interest. The city was heavily bombed during World War II, and many of its historic buildings were destroyed. But La Spezia still has several worthwhile attractions to explore, and you could easily spend a day or two there before or after your trip through the Cinque Terre.
Here are nine things to see and do in La Spezia, the gateway to the Cinque Terre.
From Lerici by ferry boat or from La Spezia by train (car parking at La Spezia station – trains every 30’ – in 10’ train takes from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, in 5’ in between the other villages). To go by car is not recommended because of the narrow roads and because of the high rates for parking in Riomaggiore or the lack of parking in the other villages. Trains are back to La Spezia since late in the evening.
Facing Lerici, in 20’ by ferry boat. The Genoa Republic castle over stands the Medieval church of Saint Peters, below which the sea is deeply blue and the island of Palmaria is just in front. The natural “passage” to 5 Terre villages, by ferry boat trip.
At 4 km an ancient and authentic fishermen village right on the sea, romantic! and very well preserved. At 4 km, from this ancient village on the hills, in the middle of a Mediterranean natural park, at the very last Southern border of Liguria, an incredible view takes your eyes from the white marble Apuan Alps down to the Tuscany coast, facing the blue sea, the Elba and Corse islands in the clearest days.
At 8 km is the second largest city of the area after La Spezia, but also a very nice Medieval center with its authentic fortresses, narrow roads and important churches. Very vivant in the evening with nice restaurants and café.
At 60 Km – the most exclusive and famous world wide of the typical Ligurian villages.
At 100 Km – in 1200s with Venice the strongest Marine Republic, the so called “The Superb” where Cristoforo Colombo was born, maintains the largest Medieval historical center of Europe: great the Aquarium by the Architect Renzo Piano at the Old Merchant Port (Porto Antico).