Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, which literally means “Five Lands,” is a group of five fishing and grape farming villages on the Italian Riviera. When we chose our one, and possibly only, Mediterranean cruise, having this area as a stop was Ellen’s primary prerequisite. And the day did not disappoint.

From the ship, we stopped in four towns: first Portovenere, a beautiful little town that is sometimes called referred to as the “sixth” Cinque Terre Village, Corniglia, the most remote of the villages, and Vernazza, perhaps the most scenic. Then on the way back to the cruise ship we made a quick stop in Pisa, with just enough time for the iconic photo of the leaning tower. It is pretty, but the other buildings in the complex are mondo impressive as well.

We enjoyed the day, but it was very crowded. The primary issue with these towns is that they are overrun by tourists during the day. But since the towns do not allow commercial hotel development, they retain their character when tourists are not there. So our plan on our next trip is to rent an Airbnb room and stay for a week, exploring Cinque Terre like a temporary local.