Riomaggiori is the first town (if you arrive from the south) and the biggest. It has a church, a marina and wide number of restaurants, bars and places to stay. This is actually where we slept which, as a matter of fact, was a great adventure! First an advice: when you search hostel world, trip advisor or any other accommodation searching engine, and the address of your Riomaggiori place to stay says it’s on the main road of the village, this doesn’t mean your room is located in the same place. Actually the majority of the places have their front desk in a little shop in the central street, and then the rooms are scattered around town, as we and a group of very nice American backpackers were able to find out! Most of these rooms are top building floors, which you access through a lot of steep staircases. From the actual main road up to our room we were able to count 10 sets of stairs which we had to climb, with our bags under 40ºC!
Regardless there was no AC which really was no surprise after the whole stairs thing and, even though you had to go over the bide to reach the toilet, our bedroom wasn’t too bad! We slept with all the windows open but we had a balcony and a great view of all town and the ocean! Too bad we didn't stay long enough to enjoy a bottle at sunset!
Manarolla was out next stop, after you arrive by train you go into a tunnel that takes you to the center of the village. All the way though you are picturing what you are going to see when you get to the end! And you won’t be let down! The buildings seem to cascade on top of one another, all painted with different colors: blue, green, pink. On the windows you can see clothes hanging to dry in the sun or old folks looking at the street. You keep walking in the direction where all the people seem to be going and you find a few friendly restaurants and at last the sea! There are a large range of walking tracks by the see that you can explore which lead to the main one that connects all towns. We found a nice quiet spot to go for a swim and sunbathe and feel the peace, quiet and wonderfulness of where you are!
Monterroso al Mare I must confess that I was quite tired when I got to this town, after all the stairs climbing and the trip from Sienna. There was a lot of walking as it is one of the biggest towns. However even with your toes swollen it is not possible to not like Monterroso. It looks like a little Pirates of the Caribbean village, you are literally just missing the pirates! There are churches, shops and restaurants all very nice and the restrict access beaches are very well taken care of as you need to pay to go spend the day there. It looks fancier than the other towns which most just look like a little fisherman's village!
Vernazza was my favorite! Maybe because we arrived at sunset and orange color that filled the city gave it a special touch or maybe it was just amazing! None the less, we manage to find a “hidden” rock beach which for some reason made quite an impression on me! The we just wondered around taking something like 300 pictures and having a nice pasta dinner at the dock right in front of the ocean! A very nice evening!
After returning to Riomaggiori to catch the first worldcup football match while drinking some caipirinhas at a nice local bar, we had a nice night rest at our“penthouse”!
Corniglia was left for the next morning because we were told there was a 360 steps climb to reach the village which is situated on top of a hill! Not to worry, there is a bus that is included in your Cinque Terre train ticket! Corniglia is a maze of narrow roads packed with cute little handicraft shops and spots with the most amazing sea view! We had the most delicious lunch there: paninis with ham and pesto and a nice wine of the region!
Tips: the village with more options to stay is Riomaggiori, there any many bars and restaurants to choose from as well! We used Hostel World.com to find the place as we were looking for cheap! Breakfast was not included. If you have time try spending at least two full days in Cinque Terre so you have time for a swin in the ocean (if you go in the summer) and hiking in the Via Del Amore!