Il dolce far niente
There’s more to Italy than Rome, Venice, and Florence and if you’re lucky enough to plan extra time in your visit to include one of Italy’s resort towns, definitely do it! Our drive from Florence to Monterosso al Mare only took us just under 3 hours – with scenic views in the pleasant Mediterranean climate and with the region characterised by its dramatic, rugged landscape and of course its picturesque terraced towns. It was a very unforgettable drive.
I spent the last 3 blissful days in Monterosso al Mare because the place is less crowded, not congested and more laidback compared to the rest, but I still had to visit the last village that is famous among the five which is Manarola. The best thing that makes it a favourite on travel bucket list is its utterly charming atmosphere, postcard worthy view from the cliffs and the beautiful scenes that you can admire.
Monterosso Al Mare
I believe the reason why people like and prefer this place is because it has more accommodation options, space and a substantial sandy beach, and it’s also easy to make a day trip to the other villages. Summer is undoubtedly the most famous season to travel which leads to overcrowding but this place still doesn’t lose its charm.
Food is everything in Italy. I was lucky enough to experience only tasty meals, almost everywhere I’ve been throughout my trip. The area is also famous for its lemon trees, grapes, olives, and white wines. For some food, I ‘d suggest you to give it a try at Barabba in White located next to the beach and Ristorante Miky, to enjoy a sophisticated last good Italian meal at a michelin starred restaurant. For sightseeing and chilling, the boardwalk, the old and new town, the Church of San Giovanni Battista, and the Bathing Resort Il Gigante Monterosso Al Mare beach for a relaxing day at the beach.
The beach in Monterosso al Mare is the only sand-covered beach in the area. Tourists usually stay on this beach. Stones cover other beaches; but sometimes such beaches owing to their landscapes are much pleasant than the ones preferred by tourists. By default, all the beaches here are free; but there are paid services available on some of them: bar, WC, rental of umbrellas and beach beds, etc.
Manarola is easily accessible from Monterosso by train, an easy 15-minute commute that take you straight from one station to the other. A day visit is a must if you’re not planning to stay there. This is one of the oldest towns, and personally the most iconic one. It is famous for the coloured building and crystal clear blue water.
Celebrated in the paintings of Antonio Discovolo in the 20th century, Manarola, and the Italian Riviera that encompasses it, this is a special place for every tourist visiting, and even to the Italians. Manarola has a fishing village type charm that the others don’t seem to have. With trains came the crowd, and now throngs arrive daily to see it all – the startlingly vibrant colour of the Mediterranean, the wildly rugged coastline sliced by scenic hiking trails, and the tiny towns tucked like puzzle pieces into the cliffs.
Lit up on the mountainside, inhabitants somehow manage to erect the largest crowd scene on earth on an annual basis. Thanks to the internet, people are obsessed and have been dreaming to visit Cinque Terre all thanks to Manarola. Summer is still the time to visit because you can’t miss out seeing the contrast of those beautiful colourful buildings against the clear blue water. A trip below the town square, known as Piazza Capellini, and down the ladder into the sea, will be rewarded by spectacular views both of the coastline above and the sea floor below.
An arduous hike ought to culminate with rest and a reward, both of which can be procured at Nessun Dorma. This casual outdoor bar, occupies a landscaped terrace on a promontory overlooking Manarola’s timeless vista; pastel houses perched on a cliff, fishing boats in a small harbor, tanned tourists diving off the breakwater into the indigo sea.
In complete honesty, I can never express enough how exciting and unforgettable this whole trip was. This amazing journey driving through the pretty and colourful painted seaside town is something one needs to do and experience in their lifetime and I would definitely do it again and go back to Cinque Terre in a heartbeat!
Things to do
- Convento dei Cappuccini: Monterosso’s most interesting church and convent complex is set on the hill that divides the old town from the newer Fegina quarter.
- The Miky: If you’re looking for something a little more elegant than a seafront fry-up, Miky does a seasonal fish menu in a moody, modern dining room.
- Torre Aurora and Chiesa di San Francesco: It’s a short climb to the Torre Aurora, a 16th-century tower that once was part of the fortifications that protected the village from the attacks of Saracen pirates
- Bathing Resort Il Gigante Monterosso Al Mare: Monterosso is enclosed between the Ligurian Sea and the hills, thus leaving little space for a beach. Even though it is a narrow strip of sand and fine gravel, Monterosso has the largest beach of all the villages of the Cinque Terre.
- Nessun Dorma: On a wave-kissed promontory overlooking the pastel-coloured houses of Manarola, this leafy terrace bar makes a magical setting for a sundowner.
- Punta Bonfiglio: Manarola’s prized viewpoint is on a rocky promontory just above the village.
Where to stay
- Tramonto sul Mare: a steep €500 for 2 nights