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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Leeds chapter.


Ciao a tutti!

So I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve actually been up to quite a lot… this week marks my SIX WEEK countdown to my Erasmus year being over, which is pretty terrifying. To fill you in briefly, I went home over Easter and did as much as possible in two weeks (Leeds, London, Reading and Bristol), before returning to Bergamo and jetting straight off to Cinque Terre, Lille, Murcia, and soon Malta (round two, wahey).  So I’ve got a lot to fill you in on, but think that I will just be covering Cinque Terre today, because there’s such a lot to show off about it!

Cinque Terre, which literally translates as ‘five towns’ in Italian, are five beautiful little towns about four hours away from where I live by train, and is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years. We stayed in the furthest town, Riomaggiore, as it had the most accommodation but luckily all five towns were ridiculously easy to commute between and it was only two minutes between some stops. We were welcomed by smells of fried fish and lots of tiny shops, as well as a beautiful harbour. It’s worth remembering that whilst the Cinque Terre are renown for their beauty, they are equally famed for their steep hills and lots of walking, and with this in mind we were told that our hostel was right at the top of the village. Whilst we struggled to get the top with our suitcases in hand, the view from our little villa was incredible:

(The view from our apartment in Riomaggiore)

We arrived late on the first day, and so had a meal with some Cinque Terre specialties (seafood, pesto and white wine) and had an early night. The next day, we visited the furthest town from us, Monterosso, which is renown for its beautiful beaches. We were extremely lucky with the weather, and were able to enjoy a few beers on the beach as well as going for a quick swim.

(Looks like worms, tastes like the best pesto I’ve ever had!)


(Clear skies in Monterosso)

After enjoying the sun- a few of us getting burnt in the process, Italian sun is so deceiving- we decided to visit the next town along, Vernazza. This is generally  known as the ‘beauty-queen town’ of the Cinque Terre, because of its stunning architecture. Personally, whilst I thought the town was pretty, particularly due to the weather, I thought that it photographed better than it looked in person (maybe it does deserve the ‘fake’ beauty queen title then…). After grabbing some lunch, we decided to go on a boat tour from Vernazza around Cinque Terre (minus Monterosso for some reason) which only set us back €12 per person for an hours tour, and it was well worth it to get a glimpse of all the towns from a different point of view.

(Having a few laughs on the harbour of Vernazza)


(Ridiculously blue water whilst on the boat tour)

(View of Manarola from the boat tour)

(A view of Monterosso from the starting point of the trail)

We had a pretty hectic second day, but were excited to see the final two towns: Corniglia and Manarola. We decided to try one of the infamous trails between islands, and somehow ended up doing the longest trek between islands- from Monterosso to Vernazza, a two hour long hike. I was not prepared for the hike at all: wearing my scruffiest, battered pumps, which was not ideal based on the terrain… The start of the trail was ok, with lots of shade and a few steps to climb. We had been climbing for about 10 minutes before we reached a desk where we were informed that we needed to pay €7.50 per person to continue on with the trail, which was frustrating as we were unaware but also very unlikely to turn back, and so we paid the money over and carried on the walk. I should add: whilst we were standing in the queue to pay, one of my friends lost his balance and fell part the way off of the cliff. It was absolutely terrifying but luckily we caught him in time, and now Raymond has had a near death experience/has a claim against Cinque Terre…

Anyway, I say ‘walk’, but it soon turned in to an absolute nightmare for me. The steps became steeper and steeper and came in sets of about 30, so at one point I think we must have done about 8 flights of incredibly steep steps one after the other. After a little while, it became too much for me as I began to struggle in the heat and couldn’t keep up with the numerous steps and started ranting that I wanted to turn back.

(My mismatched eyebrows were the least of my worries during the perilous step section of the trail)

A few of the others managed to calm me down and motivate me to continue- “Think of the Selfie at the end, Ella!!!!”- eventually continuing after a small break. Luckily, after the initial numerous flights of steps, it calmed down, and the slopes became much more even and less slope-y. After a while, we saw lots of fellow ‘hikers’ stopping at the same point to take a photo, we almost ignored it, but realized that it was a brilliant viewpoint showing that we were almost near Vernazza. We took a few pictures, and before long we realized that we were at the viewpoint that we had seen from so many Google images, and that we had made it through the hike. All in all, it took my group an hour and a half to finish the trail (pretty good, bearing in mind the tantrum, selfies and the inadequate footwear), one of my friends sped ahead and finished in an hour, whilst the two stragglers finished just 10 minutes after us. We all felt amazing when we had completed the trail, and celebrated with a drink in the sun.


(Victory selfie almost at the very end of the trail, with Vernazza in the background)

(The view that made it all worthwhile)

After an eventful morning, we took the train to Corniglia, the middle town between the 5. Climbing 374 steps up to the top of Corniglia was not what I was hoping for after finishing the trek, but we wanted to see all the 5 towns and so it had to be done! I would say that Corniglia was probably the smallest out of all the towns, and we didn’t spend as long up there compared to the others. I enjoyed a celebratory ice cream (everything was celebratory after the trail that day) but we then made our way to Manarola, the last town to check off our list.


(Colourful shops in Manarola)

(Watching the sunset in Manarola)

I think that my favourite town is probably Manarola, although it is a hard one to judge, I just think that Manarola stood out more to me. We were all a bit exhausted after such a long day, and decided to sit down at the waterfront in Manarola harbour and watched the sun set with a few more beers, which was pretty beautiful. There’s a specific point near the harbour where most tourists climb up to get a full picture of the town, and there were lots of professional photographers setting up their cameras to get a good view of everything, but I think my picture was pretty worthy!

(Typical tourist picture of Manarola looking amazing)

We headed home pretty late, and everyone was absolutely knackered after such a long day, so we decided to get takeaway pizzas and relax in our little villa. It was an amazing few days, and it’s both mad and so satisfying to go through all my photos and remember what an incredible time we had.

I honestly cannot recommend visiting Cinque Terre if you are lucky enough to get the opportunity, and I think that going in April was definitely a good idea because although it was quite touristy, it wasn’t overridden, which I could see happening in later months. I would also say that we picked the right amount of time to stay there: we arrived late Thursday evening and left midday Sunday, which meant we had two full days and were able to fully experience each little town. There isn’t a great deal to do in each town, and they are all fairly similar, but the architecture, food and general beauty of each town makes them special and well worth visiting. Although I felt like I wanted to cry and give up at the beginning of the hike, it was such an amazing achievement once I had completed it, and so for anyone thinking of visiting the Cinque Terre, I think you should definitely consider it, but don’t wear your pumps, or they will get destroyed by the end of the trail!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my somewhat lengthy account of these amazing little towns, and can’t wait to fill you in next time about Lille, Murcia/Benidorm and Malta, as well as bits of Bergamo in between.

Ciao for now,


Ella x

My name is Ella Duffy, I'm 22 years old and a recent graduate from the University of Leeds. Proudly once was co-president for Her Campus Leeds!