Possibly my favourite town among the classically beautiful network of beach villages known as the Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare. Whilst all the Cinque Terre are definitely worth visiting (full post about exploring them on foot to follow soon), there is something about Monterosso that sets it apart from the others for me.
You can get a direct train from Villafranca station to Monterosso in the morning that takes around 45 minutes. The journey itself is worth mentioning as the train travels through some of the most spectacular scenery, spectacular enough even to placate the most sugar filled of toddlers or unexpectedly stressed travelling companions.
Once there, the beaches should be your first port of call; sand with a seemingly endless stretch of clear blue water beyond. However, if lounging on a beach doesn’t appeal to you (for some unfathomable reason), Monterosso is a beautiful town with an abundance of narrow twisty side streets and small shops to explore.
When lunch time arrives, I strongly recommend Il Ciliegio. Named for the huge cherry tree outside, the restaurant is set high on a hillside overlooking the gulf of Monterosso with amazing views from its terrace. The traditional food is delicious and delicately spiced, demonstrating the passion for food of the owners – the cheerful Gianni and his wife Rosanna. The friendly atmosphere and brilliant service extends even to the transportation of customers, with Gianni driving customers from the centre of town to the restaurant, (which is 200 meters above sea level, so quite a climb) and back again after their meal.
The last train home leaves at 8:43pm allowing time for drinks on the beach before heading back to Villafranca for pizza. Alternatively there are trains back throughout the afternoon and early evening for those of us travelling with children. All in all, if you don’t mind getting slightly sandy for the sake of beautiful views, wonderful beaches and amazing food, Monterosso is a brilliant day out for travellers of all sorts.
The beach at Monterosso