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2017-11-22 06:00
PHOTO: carolyn borchardThe fifth village of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore with its tall colourful houses on either side of the main road and the small harbour below.

PHOTO: carolyn borchardThe fifth village of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore with its tall colourful houses on either side of the main road and the small harbour below.

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THE beautiful Cinque Terre continued, and fourth up is Manarola. This lovely village is huddled on and down the sides of a rocky outcrop, with the tall colourful houses leading down to a small harbour and piazza below.

Some of the houses on the water side of the village look as if they might slip into the sea at any moment, but have probably looked the same for the last 500 years. The footpath between Manarola and Riomaggiore (the next village to the east), is known as Lover’s Lane (Via dell Amore) and is the most popular and easiest part of the path that travels along the coast between the five villages.

And finally, the fifth village of the Cinque Terre - most of the village of Riomaggiore is squeezed into a narrow and steep valley, with tall colourful houses on either side of the main road and a small harbour below. Although it is perhaps not quite as beautiful as Vernazza or Manarola, I consider Riomaggiore to be an exceptional village with a great deal of charm and character, principally because of its lovely main street, bustling with shops and cafes. It is larger than the other villages.

Although tourism is clearly a major local industry, the fishing boats in the harbour (and the vineyards you will also come across as you explore) are a reminder that Riomaggiore and the other villages actually have a real working population, not just cafes and tourist shops.

The Italian Riviera is not short of rugged coastline or romantic towns and villages, but the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre are its most iconic highlight. The five villages are no longer the isolated hamlets they once were, but there’s still a feeling of remote authenticity, with few roads, perfectly preserved architecture and a network of stunning coastal and mountain trails.

This is a destination with timeless appeal, and it’s impossible to do it justice in a day trip. It really is the kind of place that rewards taking it slow, whether you’re kicking back at a waterfront table in Vernazza, glass of wine in hand, or listening to birdsong and resting your weary legs at an ancient sanctuary on a clifftop high above.

For centuries walking trails were the only way to travel between the villages of the Cinque Terre and often provided the only link to the outside world. Walking here is done in the constant company of the sea, but also offers wonderful glimpses of unique terraced farms and coastal forests. “Assolutamente bella” as the Italians would say.

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