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Hotels in Cinque Terre

Rugged cliffs, tiny beaches, brightly-coloured houses and steeply sloping terraces of olive trees and grape vines create a spectacular landscape in Cinque Terre, on Italy's north-west coast.

The five lands of Cinque Terre are actually five villages - Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Book one of our Cinque Terre hotels and explore a hidden gem, which draws tourists from all over the world.

The area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, and became the Cinque Terre National Park in 1999.

Stunning landscapes

One of the area's biggest draws are its hiking trails, which take walkers through the beautiful countryside. The Sentiero Azzurro trail connects the five villages, and you will definitely need to allow a full day to complete the walk in its entirety. The walk between Manarola and Riomaggiore is called the Via D'Amore – the Way of Love. You can also try canoeing, caving and snorkelling here.

Wildlife found here includes peregrine falcons, weasels, badgers, marten, foxes, wild boars, lizards, rat snakes, frogs and salamanders. Marine life is varied too, and includes sea fans and black coral. There's a birdwatching centre, the Torre Guardiola, east of Riomaggiore.

Five villages

The Cinque Terre villages have changed little over the centuries. You won't even find cars in their narrow lanes – the villages are connected by paths, trains and boats.

Divided into an old town and a new town, linked by a tunnel, Monterosso al Mare is filled with lemon trees and renowned for its white wines, olives and anchovies. It has a sandy beach, a partly-ruined castle, a 13th-century church and the Convent of the Capuchin Friars, which overlooks the bay. The convent is popular with tourists for its historical artefacts and works of art, including a painting attributed to Van Dyck, and is a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner. The village is also home to the Monterosso Giant, a 14-metre-high sculpture of Neptune holding the waves at bay. It was built in 1910 but has been eroded by the sea and bombs.

There is a climb of 382 steps to get to the village of Corniglia, which is surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, with a rocky cove on the fourth. In Vernazza you'll find a 14th-century church with a 40-metre-high octagonal tower, and the oldest surviving fortification in Cinque Terre, the ruined Castello Doria. Manarola has its own dialect, Manarolese, and is famous for its Sciacchetra wine. Riomaggiore is the largest village, and has a tiny harbour and a secluded pebble beach.

Eating and drinking

As well as olives, anchovies, pesto and wine, local delicacies include Miele di Corniglia - ice cream made from local honey. Try it at Alberto Gelateria or Un Mare di Yogurt, both in Corniglia, or sample one of the other unusual flavours, such as extra dark chocolate, or fig.

Tuck into home-made pasta, fresh fish and seafood, as well as impressive desserts, at the family-run Ristorante Miky in Monterosso, a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner. Or head to the family-run Taverna del Capitano in Vernazza for Tian Vernazza casserole, baked fish, stuffed mussels, lemon-marinated anchovies, stuffed vegetables, pasta with pesto, and homemade desserts.

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