Cinque Terre: how many times have you heard about this special place, and how many photos have you seen online?
Five tiny villages perched on steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean, blue waves and white foam.
Five picture perfect towns so colorful they could be straight out of a fairy tale.
At the Cinque terre, people usually spend their time exploring the winding alleys of each town.
The Cinque Terre are so popular that some people believe that the area is a bit too touristy.
As local insiders we will show you how to see the hidden side of the Cinque Terre that most tourists don’t get to enjoy.
There is so much more to know about this area beyond its facade. A startling reality of authenticity and real life, outdoor activities and of course food.
In order to better understand the life of the Cinque Terre area it’s important to know something about its history.
The first settlements date back to 800 AD and were uphill: the first inhabitants were monks who started living here and begun to build terraces to cultivate the land.
So when in Cinque Terre don’t just look at the seaside. Look up and you will see a green world where terraces literally shape the landscape.
The villages by the sea were born later than the first settlements, as shelters for boats, which were the only way to move around and trade.
Nowadays, the situation is reversed: villages are the main focus and most part of the hills has been abandoned.
It is estimated that around 80% of the terraces – and agricultural activity – of the area has been abandoned and this is very risky as it takes only 2 or 3 years for the land to reclaim its space, destroy the dry-stone walls and expose the villages underneath to landslides.
This is just one of the many reasons why we love visiting producers, winemakers and local characters who live and work outside the villages, up on the hills; and we invite you to discover this parallel, essential world with us.
Here, away from the crowds and surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and vineyards, you have the chance to experience the best of outdoor activities and local food and wine of Cinque Terre.
The options are endless: how about a hike off the beaten path with a “food and wine trail”, walking between terraced gardens, with a stop on the way to meet a local wine producer?
He will show you around his vineyards and you will taste his wines before ending the walk in the village on the sea just on time for sunset.
Or maybe a nice bike ride on the trails with breathtaking views and then a cooking class in a panoramic place with a nonna?
Last but not least, don’t miss the unique vineyards of Cinque Terre: small plots of land scattered around the hills, demarcated by typical dry-stone walls that transform them into terraces and need continuous maintenance.
It’s a tough job being a winemaker here.
It takes huge physical efforts to produce just a few bottles of wine.
So after you walk in the vineyards listening to the history of the place from the winemaker himself, every sip of wine will taste even more delicious.
Hiking, tastings, biking, cooking lessons, you name it.
Combining these activities is a great way to visit Cinque Terre in one or more days – you can stay for a week and still not have enough!