Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Vernazza is the only natural port of the Cinque Terre and is famous for its harbor, its multicoloured houses and its magical alleyways. Vernazza has preserved the characteristics of a typical sea town. This small fishing village is very narrow and its vital center is located in a small, picturesque square, just near the harbor.
When you arrive in Vernazza you can clearly see that in earlier years this town was one of the most economically and socially advanced in the Cinque Terre region. Vernazza's architectural elements like its loggias and arcades offer visitors a glimpse into the town's past.
Today Vernazza is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is also a testament to the hard work of the farmers who moulded the steep slopes of the Cinque Terre land to carve out a town for themselves. Now olive trees and vineyards grow on the terraces created by the settlers of the area out of the naturally rocky terrain.
If you want to visit Vernazza--and if you have a chance you definitely should--you can reach the town by train. The trains run frequently and Vernazza's station is about a 10 minute walk from the harbor. You can also choose to travel by boat or car, although there is not much space for autos in the town, and can also reach Vernazza by hiking.
If you come in by train you will step out of the station onto the town's enchanting main street, which runs from the station to the harbor and is filled with colorful buildings that house small shops, cafes and cozy restaurants serving delicious regional fare. On the other hand, if you arrive via ferry you will be able to admire the view of the surrounding villages and land, the terraces with their vineyards and the rugged, rocky coastline, before docking in Vernazza. Near the small harbor you can admire the small rustic church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, patron saint of the village. If you would like a fantastic view of the entire town, the port and the sea then make your way up to the medieval castle that looks down on Vernazza.
Vernazza doesn't have big hotels, but visitors can choose to stay in vacation rentals or wonderful guest houses. Not only is staying in one of these places a unique experience; it also helps you to appreciate Vernazza's soul. The owners have ancient family stories to tell, like Alessandro Carro whose guest house offers a splendid panoramic view of the town's roofs and terraces, its main street and the sea. Carro grew up in the apartments that were built by his family in the 1970s and 1980s and could not see himself living anywhere else. People like Alessandro, born and bred in Vernazza, not only provide a warm welcome to visitors, but also have a store of knowledge on what to do in the town and the best places to visit. Carro recommends getting off the beaten path to discover the little jewels that are hidden in many small Italian villages like Vernaza.
If you happen to be in the Cinque Terre area don't miss the quaint and colorful village of Vernazza!
By Anna Merulla