Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Around Monterosso al Mare

Montertosso al Mare, located in a small natural gulf, is the northernmost of the five Cinque Terre towns and is divided into two distinct parts:  old town and new town, connected by a tunnel shared by pedestrians, bicycles, and cars.  Monterosso's beach is the only extensive sand beach in Cinque Terre and is well-used by tourists and locals alike.  The area is famous for its many lemon trees and its white wines, grapes, and olives.

We return every year to Hotel Villa Steno in the new town and hike to the other towns of Cinque Terre and nearby towns of Portovenere and Levanto.

Looking across new town from Villa Steno

Streets of the new town

View across beaches of old town

At the beach in old town

The new town has a public beach that is close to Villa Steno, but is a little more rocky and in its own small bay.

Public beach

The towns of Cinque Terre are connected by trails along the water, some following the ridges just above the sea, some heading further inland and up into higher elevations.  A small piazza near the Monterosso train station (in old town) contains maps showing the towns and the trails.

Cinque Terre towns and trails

The five towns of Cinque Terre are also connected by train service that runs fairly frequently and by ferries that stop at four of the towns and, occasionally, continue on to Portovenere and La Spezia to the south, and Levanto to the north.  Our hikes generally involve several hours of walking and enjoying the sights and the sea, followed by a fabulous lunch in our destination town and either a train or ferry ride back to Monterosso.

Ferry service

The main square in Monterosso's new town is Piazza Garibaldi, including a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian general who contributed to Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.  The piazza is a central location for celebrations, markets, and just hanging out with friends and family.

Piazza Garibaldi

For our lunch as we wander around Monterosso, we stop for a fried seafood cone at the train station, followed by a gelato (lemon and pistachio).


In the evening (and on a stormy day), the beach umbrellas are closed and the sand is empty.  But, the views of the sky and clouds across the town and the sea are incredible.

Stormy day

As night falls, we get a different view, with the beach lighting up, musicians playing along the water and the streets and restaurants full of happy people having fun.

Night falls

Streets of new town at night

And, as an occasional treat, we have a religious procession passing through the streets of Monterosso and we all stand aside and watch.

Religious procession

After the procession passes, we return to our hotel and think about what we're going to do tomorrow.

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