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  • Allyson Rychlak

La Dolce Vita: Cinque Terre & Riomaggiore

I could write and talk about my time junior year of college studying abroad in Italy for hours. In October, I'm returning with one of my roommates from Rome to spend 9 days in Rome and Sicily. Needless to say, we cannot wait. To gear up for that trip, I'm revisiting my favorite places I traveled while in Italy and the rest of Europe. Anyone who has been to Northern Italy recommended Cinque Terre, so our first weekend trip was decided. The pictures alone are worth it for the read...



We took the train from Rome Termini to La Spezia Centrale, which took a little over 3 hours long. After a quick transfer to another train that runs throughout the 5 towns that encompass Cinque Terre, hence the name, we ended up in Riomaggiore. The train station is right in town, so there were no issues there, but the town is definitely steep. Our luggage had no idea what was coming! We had brunch on the Main Street near some markets and shops at a small restaurant called Bar Centrale before checking into our 2-bedroom inn booked through Booking.com. The view from the apartment was pretty amazing:



The first day, we explored the waterfront area and walked along the cliffs to a more secluded beach. Riomaggiore is beautiful from within the town, but the incredible, picturesque views of the colorful houses and buildings can be best seen from the cliffs and water. Riomaggiore is the southernmost of the 5 towns, and you can walk between them all via hike. However, this was closed when we were there, and is known for flooding or closures due to trail maintenance, or lack thereof.


We had dinner with a group of friends from our abroad program and school back in the States at Da Dulin, where we had pizza and fabulous wine. After dinner, we brought bottles of wine to the cliffs and watched the sunset. It was one of the best memories of the trip!



On Saturday morning, we bought prosciutto, cheese, and bread (and champagne, guilty) from the market in town and headed to the waterfront to see if we could rent a boat. I had emailed a few places before the trip, but ended up speaking with a man who worked for Cinque Terre Adventure, and we were able to get a private boat ride for the 8 of us. Although I can't remember exactly, I think the boat was about 45 euros a person. We saw some caves, beaches further away, and eventually rode to Monterosso, where a larger group of students from our abroad program were spending the day at the beach.



The views from the boat did not disappoint! Those who were traveling with me remember my seasickness, but I'd like to forget.


Monterosso, the largest of the 5 towns, is known for its expansive beach, orange umbrellas, and bucket drinks. We paid for an umbrella and chair and spent the day in the water! Although we decided to take the train back to Riomaggiore at the end of the day and did not explore Monterosso, there is an old town area with the ruins of a medieval castle, as well as some pretty fabulous restaurants.



That night, we had a pricier dinner along the marina at a restaurant called Dau Cila, which was lovely as the sun was setting. Vertical Bar was small but lively, and a smattering of restaurants turned into bar scenes as night came. The nightlife scene, as in most small Italian towns, was more casual (i.e. sipping on a cocktail around a table with some friends) in comparison to a larger city, of course.



On the way home, we opted for a train with a connection in Piza so that we could see the Leaning Tower! Although I'm happy we saw it, this was not a town I wished I spent more time in. I think our experience was ideal; we got to see the monument, and continued on our way.


Overall...

Riomaggiore and Cinque Terre remained one of my favorite weekend trips throughout my 4 months studying abroad in Italy. It was exquisite and my first experience of the country outside of Rome. Although it was a decent train ride (3-4 hours depending on the train), it was so worth it, especially for a first weekend abroad. Of course, I would have loved more time to explore other towns, hikes, and beaches, but I felt satisfied with the time we had and our stay in Riomaggiore, of all the towns. If you find yourself in Italy and feel the urge for a beach trip but want to avoid the Amalfi crowds, Cinque Terre is your spot.




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