From Cambridge to the Cinque Terre

Unsurprisingly, the Cinque Terre is firmly on the radar of many a travel enthusiast these days. Clinging to the cliffs, these pastel-coloured villages and their harbours filled with fishing boats are the epitome of picturesque. Truth be told, I simply don’t have the words to describe the beauty of the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre and its five lands – but I’ll give it my best shot.

Now that both of us have limited annual leave to play with, we decided to head off to warmer climes during the shoulder season. With cheaper prices and the kids back in school, it was a win-win for us – until Ryanair announced they were cancelling masses of flights. We crossed every finger and toe while we waited for Ryanair to announce who could go on their hols and who would be left in departures. Mercifully, we weren’t affected by the cancellations in the end, but it’s put me off booking with them in the future.

Our alarms trilled away at an ungodly hour, and before long we were snoozing away on the coach to Stansted Airport. After clearing security in record time, we holed up in Wetherspoons until our gate was announced an hour or so later. Having refused to pay for the privilege of sitting together, we settled into our seats, snoozed through the flight (emergency exit seats made for a pretty sweet snooze) and met up at the other end.

Pisa’s Aeroporto Internazionale Galileo Galilei Aiport is remarkably compact, and it wasn’t long before we’d purchased train tickets to La Spezia Centrale and were on our way to the Cinque Terre. At La Spezia Centrale, we boarded a regional train to Riomaggiore, the southernmost village in the Cinque Terre. The journey was a matter of minutes, and it wasn’t long before we were stepping off the train into the sunshine and making our way down towards the village itself. Kayaks bobbed in the harbour, trattorias spilled out onto the streets and the main street bustled with day trippers. As it was already mid-afternoon, our thoughts quickly turned to lunch, and Nonna Vittoria delivered the goods: tasty margarita pizzas (the first of many on this trip) and glasses of cold water.


We’re used to hurtling around destinations, but the slow pace of the Cinque Terre was just what we needed on this trip. Overcast skies soon gave way to sunshine, and we spent the afternoon meandering up Via Colombo and exploring the village’s many charming side streets, eventually ending up by the Chiesa di San Giovanni overlooking the village.



From here, we could see the terraced vineyards snaking round the hilltops to one side, and the Ligurian Sea to the other.


Later on, we returned to the harbour for that postcard-perfect view of Riomaggiore: fishing boats hauled up onto the quayside; pastel-coloured properties rising out of the steep cliffs; the sea lapping at the shore.



Unable to resist the siren calls of the gelatarias, we popped into Gelateria Sottozero for a couple of scoops to share. Suffice it to say, if you’re a foodie, you won’t leave the Cinque Terre disappointed.


With the afternoon drawing to a close and the coastal footpath closed for the season, we returned to the station to catch the train to Manarola. Our Airbnb host met us at the station and showed us the way to the flat, advising us on the best foodie spots and pointing out trails that were still open on the way. Having travelled with just hand luggage, it was a relief to finally empty our rucksacks and swap our walking boots for flip flops.


By the time we wandered back down Via Antonio Discovolo, the day trippers had gone and the streets were peaceful. After admiring the view of Manarola from the coastal path, we trotted off in search of food at our host’s family-run restaurant, Il Porticciolo. As the Cinque Terre is famed for its fresh fish and seafood, I opted for the swordfish and Laurence had the seafood spaghetti. We rounded off our meal with a trio of tiramisu to share: the classic, coffee-flavoured tiramisu; a strawberry tiramisu; and a Nutella tiramisu, which turned out to be our favourite. After a thoroughly lovely first day, we were looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Cinque Terre had in store for us. (Well, looking forward to everything except the rain that was on the cards for the next day.)



  • PisaMover connects Galileo Galilei Airport with Pisa Centrale, with a journey time of under ten minutes. Adult tickets cost €2.70 one-way.
  • You can purchase train tickets for national rail lines at the airport. Be aware that for any ticket costing more than €5, there’s a €2 commission charge. An adult one-way ticket from Pisa Centrale to La Spezia Centrale costs €11. Before boarding the train, you’ll need to validate your tickets at the machines on the platform.

12 thoughts on “From Cambridge to the Cinque Terre

    1. Shoulder season is a great time to visit if you want to dodge the crowds, but also still have access to some of the trails. I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the hordes of visitors that pass through the area over the summer months. It’s such a magical place – I can totally see why your friends chose it for their honeymoon!


  1. Gorgeous photos! That gelato looks yummy! The Cinque Terre is my happy place ❤ Especially Manarola and Vernazza. Such a beautiful part of the world x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gelato in the UK just won’t compare now that I’ve tried the genuine article! It quickly became one of mine too – great food, gorgeous views and trails galore 🙂


    1. We’d been wanting to go for a while, so when we were planning our trip we just thought ‘why not now?’ 🙂 Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance. That must have been a relief to be unaffected by the cancellations – hope you had/have a great trip to Madrid!


  2. Drooling over that gorgeous Italian food…. Glad you managed to avoid being affected by the Ryanair fiasco! We flew with them to Pisa and took the train to the Cinque Terre a couple of years ago – I loved everything about it there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Italy definitely spoilt us on the food front – so many delicious things to try, and not a single ‘bad meal’ so to speak! We were ever so relieved to have escaped the chaos, especially as other flights on that route were affected. It’s such a beautiful area, and so easily accessible via public transport 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, your post brings back so many memories of my time in the Cinque Terre! Riomaggiore is the most beautiful village, in my opinion– Corniglia comes a close second. I had one of the best gelatos (lemon-flavor since the region’s famous for lemons) in Monterosso and still dream about it to this day. Hope you can return to visit the other villages soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a beautiful region – I was blown away by just how picturesque it was in person! Of the five, my favourites were Manarola and Corniglia – the latter was massively underrated in all the guides I read before we went! The gelato was to die for – we tried the lemon flavour for that very same reason, and I wish ice cream flavours over here were as intensely fruity! I’ve got a couple more posts to come on the Cinque Terre, as we had a few days in the region 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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