Love exploring a place by foot? Then consider the Cinque Terre (pronounced Cheen-kway tehr-ray) for your next cooking vacation. Situated along the Ligurian coast in the north of Italy, the villages of the Cinque Terre are five (“cinque”) villages “(“lands”) that were once considered sleepy fishing villages. Today they’re a popular and beautiful destination with a rocky coastline and sparkling sea, and its a place particularly well suited to the active traveler who loves to hike and walk.
3 Reasons to Visit the Cinque Terre
Reason number one the Cinque Terre makes a great destination for the active traveler: the trails between all five villages.
They’re now a national park and pedestrian only; you’ll walk in and out of shade through lush pine forests, and into each of the villages, which are populated by charming pastel-colored homes as well as medieval abbeys and churches. The walk can be steep at times, as the trails are on the rocky cliffs, but it affords a stunning view of the surrounding land and sea. (In other words, if it’s a beach vacation you’re looking for, it’s best to look to western Tuscany or Sicily).
With all the walking and exploring you’ll be doing on a trip to the Cinque Terre area, it’s easy to work up an appetite. The Mediterranean cuisine here is jam packed with fresh vegetables, and herbs, as well as extra virgin oil. Seafood, too, of course plays a big role, particularly anchovies, swordfish, and sea bass. And with a cooking vacation, it’s easy to get to know the regional specialities of Liguria, especially dishes like pesto alla genovese or Ligurian “pansoti” ravioli.
The best time to visit the Cinque Terre, especially if you’re going for walking the trails, is late spring through fall. And those are the months with the best weather in this part of Italy (although August can be quite hot). For the ideal weather for walking, plan a trip during May or September. With the sunny weather, and the cool sea breeze, it’s the perfect atmosphere for your trip.
You can also pair the Liguria region with Piedmont for the ultimate foodie tour in northern Italy.
While we adore the picturesque Cinque Terre, we actually encourage to stay outside of the five villages. That’s because there are fewer tourists in places like Levanto — the northern door to the Cinque Terre — for example, and the entrance to the trails are still easily accessible, particularly by train. Both of our cooking vacation tours include a guide as you navigate these wonderful trails.
By Liz Hall
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