Rick Steves’ Europe: Cinque Terre, Italy

Italy’s answer to the French Riviera offers swimming, hiking, romance and relaxation along the Mediterranean

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Bruno Morandi / Robert Harding World Imagery / Corbis

Vernazza

Cinque Terre Italy
(Bruno Morandi / Robert Harding World Imagery / Corbis)

The breathtaking refuge of Vernazza, the jewel of Italy's Cinque Terre villages boasts a harborfront beach, seaside cafes, friendly residents and unbroken traditions.

Vino delle Cinque Terre

Wine bottles Cinque Terre Italy
(Atlantide Phototravel / Corbis)

The vino delle Cinque Terre, famous throughout Italy, flows cheap and easy throughout the region. If you like sweet, sherrylike wine, try the local Sciacchetra -- served with a cookie.

Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea Cinque Terre Italy
(Rana Royalty free / Alamy)

Along the Cinque Terre's coastline and in Vernazza itself, the allure of the Mediterranean, Italy and village life fuses potently.

Vernazza Beach at Night

Vernazza beach Cinque Terre Italy
(Andrea Pistolesi / Photolibrary)

In the cool, calm early evening, one can sit on the Vernazzza breakwater nursing a glass of wine before going on to share a pasta dish at a restaurant.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre Italy map
(Guilbert Gates)

The five villages in Italy's Cinque Terre is the traffic-free, lowerbrowed, underappreciated alternative to the French Riviera