Cinque Terre, Italy (Photo creds: me)
Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful and picturesque places I’ve ever stepped foot in. Cinque Terre is made up of 5 different terre’s, something I wasn’t aware of until I got there. For those of you who don’t know what that means, Cinque Terre is 5 separate towns north of La Spezia, on the coast of Italy. Each one is just as breathtaking as the one before. The 5 terre’s are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
From the La Spezia train station, we took a train to Monterosso, the terre that is furthest North, because that is the terre that our hostel was located on. From all 5 of the terre’s, Monterosso is the more beachy, relaxing one. Lots of sun beds spread out over gorgeous sand. We had about 7 hours until the shuttle to our hostel would arrive to take us. We decided to spend the day doing absolutely nothing – something we hadn’t had the chance to do yet on our busy trip. We spent the entire time laying on the sun beds, tanning, swimming, and napping. It was a really enjoyable day, until we woke from our naps to realize we’d gotten sunburnt, Laura more than me. (Wear sunscreen!) We packed up our day things, picked up our backpacks from the bag hold, and went to find our shuttle.
It turns out, our hostel was not quite on the coast of Cinque Terre, but actually a 20 minute drive into the mountains of Monterosso. It was small, 16 guests maximum, but it was absolutely gorgeous. We stayed at 5 Terre Backpacker’s, and it was a wonderful experience. Francesco is the owner of the hostel, and he was the most welcoming host I encountered throughout those 7 weeks in Europe. He took the time to walk us around, show us the rooms, the kitchen, the common area, and the AMAZING backyard. He even gave us some aloe lotion for our sunburns.
From the backyard, there was this view… I can’t even explain it, and photo’s can’t come close to giving it justice. You could just see so far into the distance, and it was all beautiful green, mountains, nature. After Francesco showed us our room and we settled in, we went to the common area. This hostel did have good working wifi, but it was only available in the common area, not throughout the entire place. Don’t let that stop you from staying at 5 Terre… You aren’t traveling to be on your phone, you’re traveling to see new places and experience new things – and 5 Terre is definitely a place to see and stay. In fact, since to use the wifi you have to be in the common area, it brought all the guests to be in one place and made it that much easier for us to all get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company.
Francesco informed us that every night he does ‘family dinner’ during which he cooks a meal for any guest interested and you pay either 5 Euro or 10, I forget, and with that you get to eat his tasty feast. And yes, it was a feast. A home cooked meal was so nice after weeks of cheese and crackers and eating out. Not to mention, Francesco is an incredible cook and the food was so delicious. It’s worth the small price, and it’s so fun to sit around the table with everyone.
We only had one day left in Cinque Terre, something we tried to change after realizing how much we enjoyed being at 5 Terre Backpacker’s. Unfortunately, we were unable to change our train ticket, so we had to make the most out of our last day there. We wanted to see each of the 5 Terre’s, so our day would be spent terre – hopping. There are 3 ways to get from one terre to the next. You can take a boat, you can hike, or you can take the train. We took a boat once, just to get the experience, but for the rest, we took the train. I do wish we hiked at least once, because the views would have been amazing, but we were crunched on time, as well as the fact that we were trying to restrict how much we let our sunburns be in the sun. There’s always next time! While passing through Manarola, we noticed people cliff jumping on some large rocks, and we wanted to do that. We didn’t have time that day, but we realized we would have a few hours to kill the next day before we had to catch our train to Rome, so we decided we would do that.
I’ve never seen water as clear as the water in Cinque Terre. It’s almost unreal. With our last few hours in Cinque Terre, we took a dip in the waters of Monterosso, jumped off the small cliffs in Manarola, and even followed part of the hike path to a more hidden area of Manarola to swim some more, then eventually made our way back to Monterosso to pick up our backpacks and get on the train. I didn’t even mind the deep cut I got on my leg when I hit against a rock, because now I have a story to tell whenever anybody asks about my scar.
Cinque Terre is a must see, it is an absolutely picture perfect place, and even the photos I took on my iPhone came out looking like postcards. I highly recommend staying at 5 Terre Backpacker’s, despite it being a bit out of the way, and I most definitely will be staying there again if and when I’m ever back in Cinque Terre.
5 Terre Backpacker’s – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★