The Cinque Terre (which literally translates as "Five Lands") is named after five tiny villages which may be considered as one of the most heavenly places to be found in Italy. Located on the Ligurian coast and nestled in a series of coves, this part of the Italian Riviera has become internationally famous over the last decades, arousing the curiosity of tourists from all over the world, and this is no surprise! The reason to this fame: its pastel-colored houses, its clear turquoise waters and its green vineyard cliffs. In this post, we covered the best things to do in Monterosso by creating a walking tour with a selection of curated tips.
The Cinque Terre's Resort Town. It is the most northern village of the Cinque Terre and therefore is the first city you reach by train if you depart from Sestri Levante. Monterosso may be considered as the odd one out when comparing it to the four other villages. However, this does not mean that it is less charming! The thing with Monterosso is that it is the largest of the five villages (and also the most developed) and has a different structure than the other towns: it has a distinct "old town" (called Borgo Antico) and "new town" (called Fegina) and has the longest stretch of sand. For these reasons, the town feels less intimate and more developed than the other ones. We however feel like by no means Monterosso should be dismissed when visiting the Cinque Terre! It is the perfect spot for people wanting to sunbath by the beach and to enjoy a stroll in the charming old town.
HOW TO GET TO MONTEROSSO?
GETTING THERE BY TRAIN
Located at the northernmost point of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso may be reached from larger cities of the Italian Riviera, and more generally from all the major cities of Italy. Like the other villages of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso is more easily accessible by rail. The train station is located in the new part of town (Fegina): from there, the old town is only a hundred meters away on foot. Below you will find some information on how to get there by train:
- From Pisa: a stop in La Spezia is necessary, the trip lasts around an hour and costs 10 EUR.
- From La Spezia: direct train line to the Cinque Terre; the trip lasts around 20 minutes and costs 4 EUR.
- From Genoa: direct train line to Monterosso; the trip lasts around an hour and costs 10 EUR.
- From Sestri Levante: direct train line to Monterosso; the trip lasts around 20 minutes and costs 6 EUR.
The Cinque Terre Train Card is the card you need! This card costs 16 EUR per day per person and includes unlimited train rides in the Cinque Terre area AND access to all the hiking trails (more information here).
GETTING THERE BY BOAT
One of the best way to enjoy the Cinque Terre is to hop from one village to the other by boat. This allows you to see the villages from a different perspective, however, if you are on a rush (which we hope you are not), boat rides tend to be slow and therefore not ideal. The price for unlimited boat trips in the Cinque Terre costs 27 EUR per day per person (more information here).
GETTING THERE BY CAR
Monterosso can also be reached by car, but keep in mind that cars are not allowed in the village. We therefore think that it is not the best option to reach these remote villages by car. Another disadvantage for travelers coming by car is the high price and limited numbers of parking spots available. Two car parks are located in Monterosso (the cost is about 2.50 EUR per hour and 25 EUR per day). Below you will find some information for the adventurous travelers who decide to come to the Cinque Terre by car:
- From Pisa: 114 km, approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- From Genoa: 94 km, approx. 1 hour and 40 minutes.
- From La Spezia: 34 km, approx. 45 minutes.
- From Sestri Levante: 45 km, approx. 55 minutes.
GETTING THERE BY PLANE
It is also important to say that the nearest airports to the Cinque Terre are located in Genoa and Pisa. It is also possible to fly to bigger cities such as Florence and Milan, however these are not the best options.
1. MONTEROSSO'S ROCK (BEACH)
When arriving to Monterosso, you will instantly remark the difference from its sister villages: the long beaches set the tone here instead of the rocky cliffs. However, the protruding rocks are still there to frame the beaches and compose the landscape of this unique beach resort. When walking from the train station to the old town lining the shore you will notice all the sun umbrellas which mark the private part of the beaches. The transparent blue waters and the pointy rock are the cherry on top of the iconic scenery of Monterosso.
2. STATUE OF SAINT FRANCIS
On top of the hill which divides the old Centro Storico from the new town Fegina, used to be a monastery. On the way up there, you will find a terrace (just above the thousand-year-old fortified tower) with the statue of St. Francis - patron of the Capuchin order of the monastery - with the wolf of Gulbio pointing South to the other Cinque Terre villages and welcoming the monastery visitors.
3. CHURCH OF THE CAPUCHIN FRIARS
This ancient monastery was built in 1622 by the Capuchin Friars after getting the land from the town of Monterosso as a sign of gratitude for having restored peace between two antagonistic factions of the village. The monastery is still manned and offers social and cultural activities, guided tours and spiritual retreats. The adjacent church is dedicated to St. Francis and has a stripe Romanesque facade - typical of Liguria tradition - but this one is not marble but plastered stucco.
4. CHURCH OF Saint john the baptist
Now down to the old town part of Monterosso to visit one of the oldest churches of the Cinque Terre. Dating back to 1307, when the Genoese maritime republic ruled the region, the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista portrays a beautiful - and locally traditional - Romanesque striped main façade. Although the stripes seem black and white, they are actually made from a dark green marble and a white one from Carrara. And they get narrower near the top to create an illusion that the church is taller than it actually is. The impressive rose window above the entrance with the delicate ornament on marble is also worth checking. Inside there are more details from the Ligurian Gothic architectural style: the striped marble columns and arches as well as the marble floor also in black and white.
5. VIA ROMA
Starting at the Giuseppe Garibaldi square - where the city hall stands in all its orange glory - Via Roma is the old town main street. It sets the tone of the traditional townscape you can expect from the Cinque Terre: pastel-colored house with the right amount of decadent charm, crossing crooked narrow lanes with flowered balconies and many small stores and restaurants to welcome the tourists. Lose yourself through the alleys and take in all the beauty of the scenario around sometimes with green slopes on the background.
6. MONTEROSSO BEACH (OLD TOWN)
To end your visit in Monterosso, what could be better than to bath in the enchanting blue sea? You can enjoy the Old Town beach which awards us with the best view to the whole village: a combination of Old and New Town backgrounds. Although it is mostly a private beach with all the parasols and beach chair symmetrically disposed for rent ( between 20€ and 25€ to rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for the day), its left corner is a free beach (Tragagià), usually less crowded, where you can unroll your towel and enjoy the scenic waterfront.
HIKING FROM MONTEROSSO
As previously mentioned, the five villages of the Cinque Terre are connected by hiking trails (marked with red and white paint), also known as the "Blue Trail" (Sentierro Azzurro), which have been used for centuries. In order to have access to these hiking trails, you need to either have the Cinque Terre Train Card (16 EUR per day per person; more information here) or buy the Cinque Terre Trekking Card (7.50 EUR per day per person; more information here).
MONTEROSSO TO VERNAZZA
This section is one of the most popular sections of the Blue Trail. The route, which connects Monterosso to Vernazza, is one of the most fascinating but also one of the most tiring, but the panoramic views are rewarding! The hike is approximately 3.3 km long and lasts approximately one hour and a half. One tip though: we recommend that you hike from Vernazza to Monterosso and not the other way around as there are 500 steps to climb and these can be difficult, especially on hot days! On the contrary, coming from Vernazza, the climb is not as steep, which makes the walk all the more pleasant! If you're stubborn and still want to hike from Vernazza to Monterosso, we advise you to take the bus to Vettora in order to skip the many steep stairs.
Although not the most typical Cinque Terre village, Monterosso still has charm enough to be included amidst the five. Especially due to the medieval old town with well-preserved historical sites and the longer pebble beaches with stunning blue transparent waters. The well balanced combination between a glam beach resort and the traditional rustic pastel townscape turns this Cinque Terre odd one into the unique one.
| For more information about the Cinque Terre, check our post here |
And now it's your turn to let us know what your impressions about Monterosso were. Which of the five villages is your favorite? We look forward to reading your comments.