Cinque Terre – Vernazza, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Vernazza, Italy

Cinque Terre

Five candy-colored villages on the Italian Riviera. 

Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands,” is a hard-to-access colorful group of villages along the Italian Riviera dating back to the 11th century.

The communities of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore were intensely isolated up until the 19th century, when railroads connected them with the rest of Italy. The advent of this newfound connectivity also meant a loss of tradition and youth population. However, a boom in tourism in the 1970s brought people back to Cinque Terre, where they were charmed by the quaint, ancient villages. A special train line connects the villages along the coast.

Visitors especially praised the painted villas. The pastel colors, sun-faded and rustic, were said to date back to the beginning of the village. The fishermen allegedly painted their homes in such a rainbow so that they could spot them from the sea amid the jumble of seaside buildings.

In reality though, the pastel paint jobs showed up in the 1970s along with the tourists. Most of the Cinque Terre villages didn’t even depend on fishing for income. Though the truth may not be as romantic as the legend, the villages are inarguably lovely, and these villages on the coast are now a UNESCO Heritage Site. 

Know Before You Go

Parking can be tricky.


One of the best restaurant views can be found in Manarola at Nessun Dorma.