Surprises of the Cinque Terre

Words by Belmond Editors

Surprises of the Cinque Terre

The tiny, picturesque Cinque Terre town of Manarola, with pastel buildings clinging to a rock above a small azure harbour.

Once a collection of sleepy fishing villages, the staggering beauty of the Cinque Terre now brings in a wealth of visitors, making it one of Italy’s most photographic sights – and up-and-coming wine regions.

Cinque Terre DOC wines are hard to find outside of the region. Visiting the wineries is the perfect way to sample them while soaking up the extraordinarily beautiful area. Moreover, the five Cinque Terre villages can only be accessed from the water or by local train. So why not arrive in style: set sail from Portofino aboard a beautiful sailing or speed boat, compass set for Manarola.

The Cinque Terre comprises of five beautiful villages, built upon the rugged landscape by the Ligurian Sea. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are all part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s unsurprising that this area is a tourist hotspot: with a multitude of pastel houses and glittering sea, the views are straight out of a fairytale. So stunning is this area that it has inspired everyone from Dante Alighieri in 1308 with The Divine Comedy to Disney in 2021 with Luca.

Forget smooth, flat vineyards: viticulture here defies all odds, taking place on vertiginous vineyards that plunge into the sea. Step ashore after a postcard-perfect sail and meet young winemaker Alessandro. He will lead you on a scenic walk through ancient paths lined with olive trees, agaves and prickly pears. Head to the stunning harbour, the cemetery with its panoramic views, and his vineyards, where he will explain the different grape varieties and cultivation methods.

A visit to the 14th-century Church of San Lorenzo, famous for its rose window, is included before you reach Alessandro’s wine cellar. Here you’ll sample his light, fragrant white wine, crafted from Bosco and Vermentino grapes. They’re delicious, and perfectly complemented by Ligurian focaccia.

Those who fancy a ride on the Cinque Terre Express can take it to Vernazza and enjoy lunch—perhaps a renowned anchovy casserole at Gianni Franzi. Either return to Portofino, or continue your vinous exploration in Riomaggiore. We’ll arrange an exclusive private visit to Azienda Campogrande. Fine wine, lush hillsides, dazzling views, warm sunshine: what could be more perfect?


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