Executive summary by darmansjah
The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. "The Five Lands" comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Monterosso al Mare
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.
The villages of the Cinque Terre were severely affected by torrential rains which caused floods and mudslides on October 25, 2011. Nine people were confirmed killed by the floods, and damage to the villages, particularly Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, was extensive.
There are few roads into the Cinque Terre towns that are accessible by car: the one into Vernazza is open as of June 2012, but very narrow at many repair spots. It leads to a parking area 1/2 mile from town. It is best to plan not to travel by car at all, but to park at La Spezia, for instance, and take the trains.
Local trains from La Spezia to Genova and the rest of the region's network connect the "five lands". Intercity trains also connect the Cinque Terre to Milan, Rome, Turin and Tuscany. The tracks run most of the distance in tunnels between Riomaggiore and Monterosso.
A passenger ferry runs between the five villages, except Corniglia. The ferry enters Cinque Terre from Genova's Old Harbour and La Spezia, Lerici, or Porto Venere.
A walking trail, known as Sentiero Azzurro ("Azure Trail"), connects the five villages. The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell'Amore ("Love Walk") and is wheelchair-friendly. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia (still closed in June 2012 for ongoing repairs since the October 2011 damage) is the easiest to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 steps.
Given its location on the Mediterranean, seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The mountainsides of the Cinque Terre are heavily terraced and are used to cultivate grapes and olives. This area, and the region of Liguria, as a whole, is known for pesto — a sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, salt, olive oil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. Focaccia is a particularly common locally baked bread product. Farinata is also a typical snack found in bakeries and pizzerias- essentially it is a savoury and crunchy pancake made from a base of chick-pea flour. The town of Corniglia is particularly popular for "miele di Corniglia," gelato, made from local honey.
The grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made wines. The eponymous Cinque Terre and the Sciachetrà are both made using Bosco, Albarola, and Vermentino grapes. Both wines are produced by the Cooperative Agricoltura di Cinque Terre (“Cinque Terre Agricultural Cooperative”), located between Manarola and Volastra. Other DOC producers are Forlini-Capellini, Walter de Batté, Buranco, Arrigoni.
In addition to wines, other popular local drinks include grappa, a brandy made with the pomace left from winemaking, and limoncello, a sweet liqueur flavored with lemons.