In my last post I told you about Fife's 'Chinque Touns'.
But the real 5 Terre are in Liguria, Italy (where the Alps meet the sea).
These are the four quaint coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza (plus a fifth relative shitehole, Monterosso - Morcambe Bay with palm trees), heavily pressed by tourists drawn to their colourfully cubist harbours and coastal trails.
Perhaps this undersells them. But they inhabit the have-to-be-seen-to-be-believed category of picturesque. With steep Himalayan-style terraced hillsides plunging to the sea, the villages and their terroir together form a UNESCO World Heritage site. I'm afraid the East Neuk of Fife is not in the same league.
The main draw of the Cinque Terre to someone like me is the walking trails. The most famous trail hugs the coast between Riomaggiore and Monterosso. This is flat between Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia, and with considerable uphills over seacliffs between Corniglia and Vernazza, and between Vernazza and Monterosso.
Corniglia from the trail to Vernazza:
Recent landslides have closed the easy paths between Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia. You'll still pay EUR7.50/day to hike any remaining parts of the coastal trail.
Vernazza from the coastal trail:
In mercenary moments I have often thought a killing could be made in Scotland. All you need do to get the tourists flocking is set up a well-maintained path with good facilities, publicise it, then charge for access. What would a tourist pay for access to the West Highland Way - for all its faults, a better walking trail than the Cinque Terre coast? Perhaps fortunately, charging money to walk in the fresh air is anathema to Scots, an affront to basic freedoms as likely to catch on as alcohol Prohibition.
But there is another side to the 5 Terre - the hill trails (it's where the Alps meet the sea, remember?). These are more interesting, relatively quiet, and cost your favourite price - nothing. Excellent! Let's go for a walk.
More in Post 2...