9 Fun and Fascinating Facts About the Cinque Terre


It’s no secret that at Walkabout Florence we adore the Cinque Terre. This magical section of the Italian Riviera is not only incredibly easy on the eyes, it’s also a place where you can get a genuine insight into the authentic, laidback Italian way of life. And, let’s face it; who doesn’t want a slice of ‘la bella vita’? The five towns that make up the region each have their own distinct character and, for those lucky enough to have the chance to explore this spectacular part of the world, there’s so much to enjoy in terms of history, culture, food and picture-perfect scenic beauty.


While a major part of the pleasure in travelling to new places is discovering their attractions and hidden gems in your own way (sometimes quite by accident), it can certainly help to have a helping hand to smooth the way. That’s why we created our wonderful Cinque Terre day trip from Florence, which allows you to take in the expansive delights of this fantastic area in one fun-filled day – albeit quite a long one! You’ll never run out of things to see and we absolutely guarantee that you’ll never tire of soaking up the wonderful ambience and jaw-dropping views you’ll encounter along the way.

Fast Facts to Know Before You Go

Because you’ll travel with a passionate local guide on our Cinque Terre day trip from Florence, you’ll be able to learn a lot about the area as you hike between the five towns – and believe us, there’s a lot to know. But to get you started (and yes, to whet your appetite for travel just a little bit more!) we’ve compiled some fast facts about the region that will give you valuable insight. It might also give you an idea of some of the things you’d like to find out more about from your guide.

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1: Its Name Makes Sense

We’ll start with the most basic of facts, just in case you didn’t know…The Italian words ‘cinque terre’ literally translate to ‘five lands’, which of course refers to the five villages:

So, now you know!

2: It Used to Be a Secret

One very surprising fact you might enjoy is that prior to the 1970s, this stunning area was actually a fairly well kept secret. While the Italians always knew of its appeal, of course, and it wasn’t completely devoid of international tourists, it wasn’t until an American journalist fell deeply in love with the place (and who doesn’t?) and included it in a guidebook that the rest of the world really caught on.

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3: It’s a Car Free Zone

How much more relaxed would the world be without having to contend with traffic? Well you’ll be pleased to know that this particular little part of the world is. All five of the villages are car-free, which makes them so much easier and more pleasant to get around when you’re exploring on foot. Joining our Cinque Terre day trip from Florence means you won’t have to worry about driving and parking anyhow, but for those who do, there is provision to park in La Spezia and take the train or walk between the villages.

4: The Water Here is Somewhat Special…

Those lovely aquamarine waters that roll in and lap the shores of the villages are definitely something special to look at, and even better when you dive in for a dip. But there’s also something else that makes them special: the unique biome of the water in the protected harbours of the villages is extremely rich and nurturing for a variety of marine life. It’s why the fishing here is so prolific and the seafood is absolutely superb. Anchovies are a particular speciality, so make sure you try them.

5: It’s Home to Amazing Pesto

It might not be unique to the area, but the much-loved herb basil is in delicious abundance here and is somewhat of a signature flavour. It pops up all over the place in the cuisine – from salads and freshly baked focaccia, to the classic pesto sauce for pasta or sandwiches. (Buying a jar to take home is also a great souvenir of your Cinque Terre day trip from Florence.) But the most unusual use of basil is in gelato – and believe us, once tried it’s never forgotten! In a good way, of course. The local tip is to choose a combination with a berry flavour to compliment a scoop of basil gelato.

6: You Don’t Have to Hike

For many people, hiking along the coastal trail that links the five villages is a kind of pilgrimage and a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ thing to do. If hiking is not possible or desirable for you, there are alternatives that can be just as enjoyable. The train that travels between the villages will get you there in a fraction of the time (also good if you’re on a tight schedule) and there are also opportunities to take a ferry, when weather permits.

cinque terre day trip

7: It’s UNESCO Protected

The entire area is designated a National Park and it has also come under protection as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. There are very strict regulations for both locals and visitors (you need a special day permit to hike), so when you come on our Cinque Terre day trip from Florence it’s very important that you take notice when your guide tells you what is and isn’t allowed. The National Park encompasses not only the five villages but also the hills behind them and the actual coastline itself.

8: It Has a Very Long History

There are historical documents on the region dating back to the eleventh century, but there’s evidence it was inhabited as far back as the Bronze Age. Historians refer to the important part this section of coastline played in the geographical strategy of the Roman Empire and, later, the Saracens. Vernazza and Monterosso were the first towns to be established and the others flourished under the rule of the Republic of Genoa. All this wonderful history has left its mark on the diverse styles of the architecture of the churches, monasteries, villas and fortifications.

9: One of the Towns is Not Like the Others

While Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore are all built into the edge of the coastline, with houses that hug the slopes right down to the ocean, the village of Corniglia is perched high on the very edge of a cliff. For some people, this makes it the most dramatic of the five, and even though there’s no beach you can take the steps right down to the bottom of the cliff. Just remember though, if you go down, you’ll have to come back up again…

The fantastic Cinque Terre day trip from Florence is one of our most popular here at Walkabout Florence, and it’s a place you can return to again and again and still not get enough. There’s so much more to know about this wonderful part of Italy and we can’t wait to share it with you.

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At Walkabout Florence we’re renowned as one of the best independent tour operators in the business and we’re very proud of our longstanding reputation. We provide a range of fun-filled tours in and around Florence that will help you discover the authentic heart and soul of the region’s art, history, culture and food. Our friendly and passionate guides are dedicated to making sure guests make the most of their experience and have the time of their lives while doing so. From Fiat 500 and Vespa tours, to food and wine safaris and cultural day tours, our highly recommended tours will show you the best of Italy in the most enjoyable and fulfilling way.

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