Cinque Terre is a mountainous coastal group of five villages along the Italian Riviera, northwest of Florence. Literally it is 'five lands', or five communities. With its spectacular scenery it attracts a lot of tourists, and is now a National Park. We visited on a day trip from Florence.
The only village accessible by bus is Manarola. Like all of them, its houses are built practically on top of each other up the slopes of a valley where a small stream descends to the coast. The narrow streets were crowded with tourists.
All of these villages have tiny harbours, all but one of them very limited in size, and subject to waves crashing off the Mediteranean. In Manarola the small boats are hauled up the boat ramp (in the foreground), and simply stored on the street above.
The second town our tour took us to was Riomaggiore, a little larger, but still very crowded with homes climbing the steep slopes. Another tiny harbour, with boats stored on the streets above.
We're looking north up the coast past the other five villages, until recently only connected by mountain paths, but now linked by a local train line that travels through tunnels and just pops out in the open for each village.
This is the largest town, Monterosso al Mare, spread along a nice beach - most of which you must pay to enter.
I enjoyed taking pictures of the surf breaking over the breakwall.
In the tiny bit of beach that was public, we both dipped our toes into the Mediteranean, just to prove we'd actually been there.
The last town we got to was Vernazza, with a nice but very small harbour and a tiny corner of beach. This town had suffered a mud slide that roared right down the main street (there is only one street), about ten feet deep in 2011. They've worked courageously since to re-open the town to tourists.
When we were there the waves were crashing in on the pier, and we had to forgo the boat tour that might have let me get more scenic pictures of the villages. (Just Google 'Cinque Terre' and choose 'Images').
All of this is set in an ancient landscape of grape terraces marching up the slopes, where not long ago life was very challenging. Now the challenges are the number of tourists that interrupt life (but spend their money), and fight for space on the train platforms.