The first image that comes to mind when one thinks of the Cinque Terre in italy is that of rugged mountain terrain, with its deteriorating dry stone walls, built to hold up vineyards.
An impressive and unique landscape which has been included on the UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The landscape, which we admire, is the product of collective creativity that was able to overcome the difficulties posed by the environment in order to develop a unique and special form of agruculture.
It is a landscape constructed by craftsmen, with skill and knowledge, to obtain a practical result for their survival and that of their descendets.
It is the work of the local Cinque Terre people, that has spanned over a thousand of years.
Together, these people have worked toward one vision - to live, to produce and to be part of a community.
The Cinque Terre were placed on the "World Monument Fund's 100 list of sites at risk" for its abandonment of cultivated terraces.
The main objective of the study undertaken by the POLIS Department of Architecture Faculty of Genova University in collaboration with other agencies, is to protect the landscape and to encourage the conservation of the territory.
Its focus has been the consolidation and maintenance of the dry stone walls and the terraces.
The Marine Protected Areas of the Cinque Terre.
The crystal clear waters of the Cinque Terre was made a Marine Protected Area in 1997.
The presence of animals and vegetation rich and varied.
The seabed is made up from its unique rock formations which is home to a diverse range of colourful coral, yellow, red, bourdeaux, orange, red, and white, Funicella a very rare white coral as well as the rare black coral.
The sea "posidonia" is found right along the coast.
But there is another presence which makes the Cinque Terre sea so unique: whales.
This is why this part of this part of the Ligurian Sea was made a Cetacean Sanctuary, an internationally recognised marine protected area.
Riomaggiore, situated in a small valley just along the coast, is the first Cinque Terre Village you meet coming from La Spezia.
The houses of the medieval village lean one to the other, intersected by depp small streets and sheltered paths.
In the central lands are all vine-yards, producing a famous and good white wine.
Its origins date back to the end of the XII century.
"Rivus Major" is the ancient name of the biggets river which crossed the village.
The quay is suggestive and framed among typical coloured buildings called "case torri" (tower houses).
Torre Guardiola's path starts from the small Fossola beach is an incredible botanic walk in the nature.
Unforgettable is "Via dell'Amore" the most famous path of Cinque Terre from Riomaggiore to Manarola.
The village of Manarola is surrounded by vines and is situated along a stream.
In the upper side of the village, we suggest to visit the church of San Lorenzo (1338) with its beautiful rose window dating back to the 14 th century.
The wine of Manarola is very famous and the "Via dell'Amore" starts here: a distance of two kilometers towards Riomaggiore, which is one of the most particular in the world. .
Placed on steep promontory, with two exclusive small beaches at its sides, Corniglia can be reached from the railway through a long flight of steps leading to the village.
We suggest a visit to the Church of San Pietro (1334), which is considered one of the most significant monuments in the gothic-ligurian style of the Cinque Terre and a view from the Belvedere, an enchanting terrace on the seaside..
It's natural pier with a amphitheatre shape, perhaps it's the most picturesque village of the Cinque Terre.
Vernazza was a Roman installation and had a big strategical importance during the age of the Maritime Republics in Genoa also for the fame of it's carpenters.
We suggest a walk in the village that is dominated by a watchtower and the "Castello" remains.
In the small square, overlooking the seaside, there is the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia.
Monterosso al Mare, located in the Cinque Terre Naturalist Park, is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre and is reached by walking along the most difficult part of the "Sentiero Azzurro" footpath.
This ancient sea village is situated on the eastern side of the Ligurian Riviera, between the tip of the Punta Mesco and the island of Tinetto. Its name comes from the latin word "Rubra" referred to the reddish colour of the mountains at the sunset, or it could, also, comes from "Rufus", the name of the lord of the castle whose hair were red. It is the best equipped village for tourists in the whole of the "Cinque Terre".
The hotels offer warm and friendly hospitality and the restaurants provide dishes, typical of the ligurian coast.
Also the famous wine of the "Cinque Terre" praise of wich was sung by Petrarca, is also available.
The village is protected by hills covered with vineyards and olive groves and is surrounded by vegetation.
Its beautiful beaches, steep rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters, make this one of the most charming resorts on the Ligurian Riviera of the east.
The medieval tower "Aurora", located on the hills of the Cappuccini, separates the ancient part of the village from the more modern part.
In the church of Saint Francis "San Francesco" works of great importance such as the Crucifixion, believed by many to have been painted by Van Dyck, are preserved.
The centre of the village is very old and interesting: ancient "carruggi" and buildings offer an unforgettable memory of that village facing on the sea.
Many shops and wineshops are the right place to buy typical souvenirs and to taste the so rare dessert-wine "sciacchetrà".
On the top of the village there are the Convento dei Cappuccini and the castle from where visitors can grove the emotions of an incredible landscape.
The new part of the village is extended on a long promenade ending at the feet of the great statue of a Giant representing "Nettuno".
La Via dell'Amore (The Love Road)
It is a part of the path in the rock and overlooking the sea, that connects the village of Riomaggiore with the village of Monterosso.
Following this romantic path, known all over the world, the fascinating scenery can be admired, the sound of waves on the rocks can be heard, the unmistakable smell of salt can be breathed.
The pleasant position of the path, obtained in the rock overlooking the sea, makes the walk a very particular naturalistic experience.
The sensation of completely immersing in the scenery has been, and still is, so strong that probably the inhabitants decided to dedicate the road to the emotion of love.
In the past, the road was said to be shelter for lovers, who here found inspiration, from the sea, for their romantic declarations.
Famous poets and painters, bewitched by the spell of this road between sky and sea, found the inspiration of many of their works here.
The Via dell'Amore represents even in its first part, a very beautiful and natural scene, the first step towards the discovery environmental, historical and cultural values of a territory maintained in its primitive beauty.