Cinque Terre Guide: Corniglia

Corniglia Cinque Terre

Exploring the Cinque Terre for the first time is much the equivalent of a five-course meal for Italophiles. Each pastel-painted town nestled in the jagged seaside cliffs is a delectable, tantalizing and addictive exploration experience. Despite Cinque Terre having quite the reputation as a tourist destination (which, credit to those claims, it absolutely is), when explored in the early mattina hours around dawn, the magical wonder of the sun rising over the ancient vineyards and mingling with the last glow of the stars is something to be devoured. There is a reason that these five towns are five of the most desirable destinations in Italy…and I’m thrilled to take you through every bite of these rich Mediterranean pockets of coastal Italian culture.

Corniglia, Cinque Terre Guide

We chose to do a mix of hiking and driving during our Cinque Terre experience, as the different perspectives on these towns are endless and each offer an angle that completely steals your breath and induces your heart to skip a beat or two. One of the first towns we explored was Corniglia. With only 150 full-time residents (despite the millions of tourists that trek through the town monthly), winding through its narrow pathways before the buses of visitors arrive is serene, calm and what I imagine it was like 500 years ago. The only sounds being that of the local shop owners setting up their shops – often comprising of local Cinque Terre wine from the surrounding vineyards – and handcrafted ceramic goods for the visitors to take back to their loved ones back home.

Corniglia Cinque Terre
Corniglia Cinque Terre
Corniglia Cinque Terre

A wisp of mystery follows the footsteps of every visitor who explores the unpredictable Corniglia, with every corner offering a new passageway until the steep stone-lined descent to the sea (with a mandatory Aperol Spritz stop along the way, of course). It is rumored that Corniglia once boasted a grand castle in its Roman days…yet, the remains of that castle have yet to be discovered. With an always-present sense that there are uncountable layers of history and obscure cultural discoveries to be unearthed, Corniglia is a pocket of prime Italian wanderlust. It’s  the only land in Cinque Terre that can’t be reached by sea (so your options here are car, train or foot).

Here is what to do, where to eat and of course, sip in Corniglia, Italy:

Grab lunch and a Spritz at Terza Terra

This Corniglia gem is famous among visitors for the breathtaking view of the Mediterranean, but it is especially treasured among all for its delicious offerings of local Cinque Terre wines, fresh baked focaccia and aperitivo hour. Grab a cozy spot in the corner and order an Aperol Spritz and Focaccia for gorgeous views and Lugurian fuel that hits the spot.

corniglia cinque terre
corniglia cinque terre

Take a Walk Down to the Sea

The steep descent to the ocean is one not too many tourists make, making this one of the more private beach experiences in the Cinque Terre – and let me tell you, it’s peaceful, surreal and worth the treak. Bring a good book, find yourself a rock and prepare for prime riviera sunshine and serenity for the imagination.

Cinque Terre secret: There is also a famous nude beach called Guvano situated slightly north of town of Corniglia- nestled next to an abandoned train station and it costs €5 to get in, and clothing is 100% optional.

corniglia cinque terre

Grab an Espresso in the Town’s Main Piazza

Take a pause from exploring, sit down at a local cafe and take in the unique architecture of Corniglia while watching the tourists filter in an out as the occasional local weaves their way through – they are always easy to spot.

Followed by Gelato at Alberto Gelateria – Via Fieschi, 74

Because what is an afternoon in Italy without gelato?

Climb the 33 Flights of Stairs to the Lardarina

Corniglia’s most famous terrace might entail climbing 33 flights of stairs (400 steps) for one of the most spectacular panoramic views in Cinque Terre, but it’s a dream and the only place in the region where you can see all the five lands at the same time.

corniglia cinque terre
corniglia cinque terre
corniglia cinque terre
corniglia cinque terre
corniglia cinque terre

Like any land in Cinque Terre, the first rule is to get lost in it. Visit in the morning and allow yourself to discover yourself in the mystery, magic and splendor of Corniglia…step by step.

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  • On this day in 1945 the regime of Mussolini fell and Nazi occupation, and all the horrors that implies, ended. Liberation Day. My Nonna told me stories of this moment, the wine that flowed, the songs sung, the dancing in the streets and the waving Italian and American flags from every balcony...and my heart is with every heart touched by WWII and that historic moment a seemingly endless night ended. This country has such a a big part of my past, and after patience, dream mapping and the hard work of a promise made in Portofino, such a big place in my future and that of our family. Per Italia 💋🇮🇹
  • “One of my favorite things about female writers, about writers in general, about people who take what’s happened to them and they process it and they put it out into the world...is if you write, you can turn your lessons into your legacy.” -Taylor Swift. Her albums always, without fail, paint a musical narrative to complement whatever stage I’m personally and professionally journeying through. Can’t wait for my window seat airplane hours on Friday, listening to her new stories which will inevitably be the soundtrack to so many romantic, cinematic, modern jetsetter moments in Europe this summer. The life of a writer is the only life for me. xx 💋
  • Coffee date in the Italian Riviera, anyone? Every day in Italy starts with finding the perfect cappuccino. Three insider rules for Italy visitors to find that perfect frothy dream: 1️⃣ Don‘t be confused by the word “bar” (this is an Italian café and the center of social life for locals) 2️⃣ Venture away from the city center to find bars where the locals go; you should always pay less than €2 for a cappuccino. Tourist hotspots charge up to €7 and often a far cry from true Italian coffee culture 3️⃣ Do order a cornetto to go with your coffee; one must do as the Italians do 🥐☕️ 🇮🇹
  • With a summer in Italy around the corner, I’m quickly adapting to CPSR diet: cappuccino, pasta, spritz, repeat. May can’t come soon enough. Stay tuned to the blog this week for a guide to one of Italy’s most coveted destinations, my Nonna’s gnocchi recipe, weekend reads and our big wedding destination reveal (+ a little official change to our addresses in the world). #ModernJetsetter 💋
  • There is no destination in the world sweeter than the one I experienced today: next to my little brother’s side when he  found out he’s having a little baby boy - in the most country way ever. Thank you Kelsey for loving my brother the way you do, being an instant sister and for already being the most incredible mama to our Kipton. We can’t wait to spoil that boy with our love (and plenty of storytime with aunty in between duck hunting season). I love you three with all of my heart xx

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