Cinque Terre. We have all seen the pictures of the colorful old homes jutting off the cliff over the Mediterranean sea. The Italian Rivera. It almost looks like it could be a dream.  Christie and I plotted our 10 day trip to Italy very carefully and packed as many cities as we could in to the itinerary. We knew we couldn’t miss out on exploring Cinque Terre, even if it was only for 36 hours.

Upon arrival in Cinque Terre knowing you only have  36 hours to get everything in that you want to see, you must have a plan. Getting a map ahead of time is key and planning which towns you want to hike to and which towns you would prefer to arrive by the local train. Only having such limited time in the area, we took the train and spent more time exploring each individual town but there are shorter trails you can hike and fit in if that is your preference. We chose to stay in a nearby town, La Spezia, which is a short train ride from Riomaggiore. Once arriving in Riomaggiore, head over to the local information office and purchase your Cinque Terre Card. There are multiple options so make sure you choose the one most suitable to you. We chose the one that would allow the most train rides and use of hiking trails if we found time. Be aware, often times weather conditions, mud slides and more can close these hiking trails for weeks at a time so have a contingency plan for your day in case this happens to you. 

(a hiking trails map of the five main towns included in Cinque Terre)


the view of Riomaggiore from the path near the marina

Riomaggiore is one of the most recognizable towns of the five.  Follow the signs to the Marina and you will find yourself at the shore with this unbelievable view, make sure to come take a postcard worthy shot of your own. If you have the extra time and funds, there are plenty of boats for hire at the shore. Hop on one for some of the best views from the Mediterranean sea.   Among the colorful houses and businesses you will find tons of shops with local products to bring home with you. Be sure to check your countries regulations if you choose to bring home local eats or drinks so you aren’t left having to giving them up at the airport.

IMG_3091 (walking through Riomaggiore, stopping to check out all the local shops and cafes)

We wandered up hill toward where the hiking path leads you into town. The view was unreal, the sky was cloudless the day we spent exploring Cinque Terre.  The mountains nearby were covered in green, scattered olive trees, lemon trees, and grape vines with colorful homes popping out in between the stretches of land until it met the sea. I don’t know when I have seen something so undisturbed and beautiful. It was almost like being stuck in a time warp. The colorful houses and rows of vineyards add to the unique backdrop that Italy’s Riviera provides. If you are lucky and the hiking trails are open, you can leave from this point and head toward Manarola. Otherwise, make sure to have your camera on hand and take it all in!

(from the top of town in Riomaggiore)

IMG_3088(two traditional homes in Riomaggiore near the hiking trail)

IMG_3077(Riomaggiore from the hiking trail entrance)


You can’t leave Riomaggiore without trying some of the freshest seafood I have ever had in my life. Pop into a local shop and choose from Sardines, Shrimp, Calamari or a mixture of them all.  The crispy, flavorful bites are incomparable.  

After we made our way back into Riomaggiore we stopped in a local place to buy a cone of fried shrimp and calamari to enjoy as we searched local shops for gifts to send back home, and sunscreen. We decided the best next step would be to head to Monterosso al Mare since it was the furthest town away on the map and to work our way back down.  We grabbed a quick pasta lunch at a take away place and made our way to the train.

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