Why Vernazza is the best town in the Cinque Terre.
Vernazza, one of the 5 villages in the Cinque Terre, is idyllic in many ways. In other ways it is another example of rampant tourism.
Geographically it is gorgeous. The town is built up on the steep cliffs that surround the harbor. Pastel colored houses, small windy alleys decorated with potted plants, laundry hung out to dry from green-shuttered windows. A small fort on the harbor. It is a walker’s delight, each alley seems to bring yet another beautiful view on the town and harbor. A photographer’s dream, Vernazza is ideal, picture-perfect Italy. in our opinion it is the prettiest town in the Cinque Terra (Rick Steves’ agrees with us).
The problem is that it is far from being undiscovered. There are TONS of tourists, especially on weekends, but also on weekdays when daytrippers come in. Only on weekday evenings do you get a sense of what Vernazza was like before mass tourism. Forget about trying to find a room last minute – I booked 3 months in advance and even then I had many rejections before finding anything. Restaurants and bars are jam packed at mid-day with daytrippers, you may even have to make a reservation to sit down for lunch.
The worst thing about all these tourists is that it has led to “tourist fatigue”. Lissette and I were both reminded of Ko Phi Phi in Thailand where over-tourism has changed the people. The locals rarely look you in the eye when talking to you and I haven’t received a mere hint of a smile from anyone in the restaurant industry in Vernazza. Restaurant food is drab and uninventive. Tourist food. From that point of view Vernazza was a disappointment.
Anyway, forgetting about the less than friendly locals (and we did after a few days, realizing it was nothing personal) we still really enjoyed Vernazza. It is a beautiful spot, one of the most beautiful anywhere. We climbed a lot of steps, took tons of photos, and drank beer / wine / expressos while people-gazing. The gelatos were also great. Vernazza was still many of the things I expected coming here.
Below: Lots more photos. I couldn’t stop taking them here.
I really, really recommend staying at least one night in Vernazza and seeing the town after all the day trippers have left. We stayed at Alessandro Carro Affittacamere which was good (not great, but good). A few recommendations: Affittacamere Elisabetta (good prices, comfortable place, incredible views), La Polena – Affittacamere (much of the same views but higher end), MaDa Charm Apartment Terrace & Carugio (in the heart of the town, high end, very nice). Finding a place in Vernazza can be difficult so I’ve put a deals finder below. Book early.
Organized Tours. You really can’t stay a night in Vernazza? Then I recommend this full Day trip from Florence – it takes you to all 5 villages of the Cinque Terre (which we saw. Vernazza our favorite).
Have you been to Vernazza? Let me know what you think!
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