If you have seen a picture or postcard of Cinque Terre before, you probably had to pinch yourself when someone told you it was real. The area looks nothing short of a fairy tale, with multi-coloured houses speckled like gemstones on the coastline, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea sparkling in the sun. Our Cinque Terre tour allows you to explore all five villages and we take you the authentic way: on foot. Although rigorous, the rewarding hike through the idyllic mountain trails is guaranteed to transport you straight into the picture that beckoned you to explore its serene beauty.
In this spotlight post we want to introduce you to the golden sands and bustling history of Monterosso, Cinque Terre’s largest village. As the Cinque Terre tour weaves between the pastel coloured houses, we want to ensure your local knowledge grows with your heart as you fall in love with the streets, the people, and the shimmering coastline. Therefore, this supplementary guide is designed to walk you through some of the archaeological features and mythical monuments you might spot whilst perusing the village.
Monterosso at a Glance
For those who like their villages with a real sense of vivacity, Monterosso may just be your favourite. As the largest of the five villages and lined with two pristine sandy beaches, this picturesque settlement comes with a big slice of history and a livelier atmosphere. In fact, Monterosso was almost left out of the ‘Cinque Terre’ for being too big. Located in the centre of a natural gulf, the village is split into two sections by a 10 meter tunnel. Both the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ sections are adorned with the quintessential pastel-coloured tower houses, and the area is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Don’t be fooled into thinking the village is hectic or unrestful, though. As the Cinque Terre tour pauses for breath, you are sure to experience the serenity and the natural beauty of Monterosso both of which have inspired the likes of artists and poets for centuries.
History of Monterosso
Although Monterosso seems to have been occupied since the Palaeolithic age (a staggering 12,000 years ago), we only have documented records tracing back to 1056. And, like many of the Cinque Terre villages, their largest threats were the Saracen pirates who terrorised the coastline and frequently raided the area. In fact, you can still see three of the remaining watchtowers, including the Aurora tower, designed to spot pirate ships riding in to rain havoc on the villagers. There used to be a castle on San Cristoforo Hill but this has disappeared completely after succumbing, like the pirates, to the destruction of time.
Monterosso, like all the other four villages, was fought over by Genoa and Pisa until 1254 when the village fell under the domain of Genoa’s government. Today, locals enjoy the hum of a vibrant village without, of course, the constant threat of pirate invasions.
What You Will Do on the Cinque Terre Tour
During the Cinque Terre tour you will be given some time to explore Monterosso for yourself. You may decide that the gorgeous sandy beaches beckon you to lie out beneath the Italian sun, or that, after all the hiking, you crave the cooling relief of the sea. You can also peruse the many artisan shops for souvenirs or repose in a cafe with a refreshing glass of renowned local wine.
“Great organisation from beginning to end. Very challenging in the August heat but worth the sweat and effort. Beautiful quaint villages and fantastic meal for those who take up the offer of lunch with the group.”
5 Stars on TripAdvisor, Mags C
The Monterosso Giant: What You’ll See on the Cinque Terre Tour
As you feel yourself melt into Monterosso’s charming ambience, you are sure to spot some of these historical and cultural landmarks along the way:
The Church of St John the Baptist
Made from marble extracted from the Punta Masco quarries, this church is an architectural and aesthetic marvel. It is designed in typical Ligurian style with 4 columns, a central rosette window and a bell tower.
The Giant Statue
This imposing statue of Neptune has become the symbol of Monterosso. It emerges from the rock at the far end of Fegina beach, casting a watchful eye over the village. The 14 meter statue was made out of iron and concrete by Jewish sculptor and architect Levacher Minerbi in 1910. Neptune has since lost both his arms, his trident and a giant seashell to the elements and to Cinque Terre’s more violent past.
The Sanctuary Saviore
Although we won’t have time to pause here on the Cinque Terre tour, this little alcove emerging from between the trees is 450 meters above sea level and offers unparalleled views over the multi-coloured houses and glistening coastline. The sanctuary is also steeped in myth and mystery. Legend has it that, hundreds of years ago, a local priest saw a dove disappear through a crack in his wall. Curious to find the bird, the priest tunnelled through the stone and found a wooden stature of Christ and the Virgin Mary known as the ‘Saviore Madonna’. If gorgeous histories like these tantalise you, be sure to hurry back to Monterosso for a second visit.
So, Monterosso is not only scenic perfection but also promises your immersion in village friendliness and festivities. Join us on the Cinque Terre tour to transport yourself into this picture-perfect postcard of golden sands and lemon trees. Need a little more convincing that the houses and crystal clear waters are real? Look no further:
“A long, hot but wonderful day hiking!”
“On our recent trip to Italy we did the day trip to Cinque Terre. Our guide Alessandro was awesome, giving us all the details and keeping us informed on what to expect at each stage of the trip, whilst sharing several interesting details. Beautiful views from anywhere we looked. Challenging hike with the heat but absolutely worth it!”
5 Stars on TripAdvisor, Ramesh V
If this gem in the Cinque Terre crown has dazzled you with its unique sense of history, culture and beauty, all you need to do is get in touch with our team. Our handcrafted Cinque Terre tour offers the perfect blend of sun, sea and sweat (oh so rewarding!) whilst supplementing the views with educational insight. Book your tour today and hike the path to an unforgettable experience.
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Here at Walkabout Florence, we provide our guests with exciting tour opportunities that aim to demonstrate Italy’s unparalleled charm, be it on a hike, Fiat 500 tour or pizza making session. Our small selection of carefully crafted group tours each promise to exceed your expectations and more, and we can guarantee that some of the best places to visit in Italy will be on your itinerary no matter which tour you choose!
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