There’s not a bad view to be had in Cinque Terre, the jewel in the Italian Riviera’s crown. Literally translated as ‘Five Lands’, the five villages scattered along the coastline; Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore; collectively make up this distinctive UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected for its outstanding natural and man-made beauty.
The natural beauty of this area is easy to see. Steep cliffs and hills rolling directly into the crystal clear sea are ten-a-penny, and verdant hillsides simply beg to be explored on foot. But it’s the man-made element of Cinque Terre that really makes it stand out from the rest. In each town, a waterfront of brightly-painted buildings aims to outdo the previous town. Painters and photographers flock to the area each year to try to capture the essence of this enchanting locale.
Walking the coastal trail between the five towns with your camera slung around your shoulder, you’ll be spoilt for choice for incredible photo opportunities, and the best spots are hotly debated between travellers. The iconic view which Cinque Terre is perhaps best known for is of the town of Manarola, where the houses directly face those hiking towards it, like a sunflower faces the sun. The whole town is situated on a rocky outcrop and some structures seem to be almost falling loosely into the sea.
Another picture-perfect shot can be taken of the town of Vernazza, just 5 minutes up the trail towards Monterosso al Mare, where the best views can be found at sunset when the town lights up for the night ahead. Vernazza is just as beautiful close-up with some of the best street photography in the area, and is also the town which most photographers choose to stay in.
A little-known photographic gem is from the rocky outcrop at Riomaggiore which, when the tide is right gives budding photographers the ideal opportunity to capture the town from a new perspective. Seeing Riomaggiore from the sea shows off its perfect valley of colour, which appears to float on the rocks below.
Wherever you choose to explore in Cinque Terre, be sure to have plenty of memory on your camera, as something tells us you’re going to need it.