by Rick Steves, December 26, 2019
When I first came to the Cinque Terre, then an isolated stretch of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it was a classic “back door”: a string of five pastel-hued hamlets clinging to craggy seaside slopes and surrounded by steep, rocky vineyards. It was authentic, romantic, and without a tourist in sight. Fast forward several decades…and the once-sleepy villages are now on Instagram bucket lists and mobbed in high season by organized tours and cruise-ship excursions.
The resident population of the five towns (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola, and Riomaggiore) is just four thousand — but it’s estimated that some 2.5 million travelers visit annually. And it’s not just foreign tourists who flock here: Italians love the Cinque Terre too.
The result, especially when day-trippers hit, is that trains and station platforms are often mob scenes, the iconic coastal hiking trail becomes almost impassable, and the towns’ tiny lanes are clogged to bursting. Even so, I still recommend this seductive corner of Italy. You can (and should) have a wonderful time here. Avoid the worst of the logjams by following these tips:
Consider your timing. April can be ideal, with fewer crowds and cooler…