Day 8 (15th June 2015)
I came here more or less for a "photography trip", therefore you'll see more photos and less talking about stuffs to do unlike the previous post. I'll cover all the basics at the beginning.
The only reason I've planned an Italy trip for this summer was this place. Cinque Terre, meaning "The Five Lands" in Italian, comprises of five villages on the hillside along the Mediterranean coast. The five villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Although I'm staying in Corniglia (a very bad choice...), I get to spent all 3 days in every village except Monterosso. Why not Monterosso? To me it's not worth the time and it doesn't look photogenic at all compared to the rest, you can google up the villages and compare them. If you like beaches you can consider a visit here or even a night or two.
Accessibility to these villages is pretty simple and straight forward since all five villages are connected by a single train line. First you need to take a train from any central station in Italy to La Spezia station, from there you can buy a ticket to Riomaggiore or any villages that you're staying (actually you can buy a ticket straight to Riomaggiore from any train station, but remember to change at La Spezia). Once you've settled down at any of the villages it's up to you whether to take the train to visit the rest, or hike through the mountains.
Regarding which village to stay there's only one tip: AVOID CORNIGLIA. Unlike the other villages, Corniglia is located on top of a hill. The only way to reach the village is climbing tons of steps, and it's not going to be a pleasant experience at all when you have a luggage bag. That being said, if you can deal with the steps then it's not a bad idea to stay here at all, especially during the peak periods when hostels are fully booked.
Finally about food, if you're on a budget the best choice is to get some groceries from convenient stores and cook providing your hostel have a kitchen, otherwise you'll have to stretch your budget a bit. There's typical pizzerias around offering a slice of pizza for 5 EUR+. A proper meal would cost 8 EUR+ and don't expect the portion to be generous. You might expect cheap stuffs from old villages like these but they're very touristic, so get ready for touristic prices and traps.
I guess that covers pretty much all the basics regarding this place, now let's bring on the photos!
First town to visit is definitely Manarola, just a stop away from Corniglia and it's definitely the most well known based on photos you can find online.
There's nothing much to do other than sit or walk around while waiting for the sun to set. If you have the appropriate attire you can go for a dip in the sea, just make sure it's within the coast.
On the way back I managed to take my first ever milky way shot as well! Not really a good shot because there's still some light on location, but consider myself lucky that I managed to get a glimpse of it.
Day 9 (16th June 2015)
The plan today was to take the hiking trail from Corniglia towards Vernazza. It's possible to hike between villages, all the way from Riomaggiore to Vernazza, but certain parts are closed due to landslides or maintenance work, so always check with your local guide before starting the day.
Anyway the trail between Corniglia and Vernazza is fine so I couldn't miss the chance. The hike could take around 3 to 4 hours one way depending on your speed, and this could just be personal preference but I would hike towards Vernazza, and take the train back to Corniglia.
One reason to take the hiking trail was to get a better view of Corniglia. Basically there's no where else since the whole village is located on a hill, the best spot for a view of the village is the higher mountain behind. There's another way actually, and that's to take a ferry or rent a boat out to sea, which requires money.... lots of them. Hiking = free.
This town is considered one of the busiest next to Monterosso al Mare.
Day 10 (17th June 2015)
My last day in Cinque Terre as well in Italy. All that's left to do was to visit the only village I left out - Riomaggiore, but first I wanted to take another hiking trail to have a different view of Corniglia. This one involved climbing up the mountain located just behind, and it's far more exhausting and challenging compared to the hike yesterday.
I didn't plan to make it to the top, once I'm satisfied with the view and photos I descended and took the train to Riomaggiore.
Cheap food in Riomaggiore was easier to come by compared to the other villages based on my observation. So it could be the best village to stay if you're on a budget.
I didn't expect to give a food recommendation at this place but here's one. Go look out for this take away shop called Il Pescato Cucinato and get the seafood cones. 1 large cone cost 7 EUR and consist of prawns, calamaris, anchovies and some fishes, topped up with a slice of lemon. Well worth it to me.
Address: Via Colombo, 199, Riomaggiore SP, Italy
Summary about Cinque Terre - Come at least once just to get a feel of the villages, no matter you're interested in getting beautiful photos like me or just a typical chill out tourist. Make sure you have sufficient budget if you want to have an all out enjoyment, food and services won't come cheap. That being said I would consider returning here in the future with more in my pockets, maybe for a honeymoon? Oh by the way I forgot to mention, Cinque Terre is famous for wine, in fact there's plenty of grape farms around the villages. I've even saw an American tourist ordering a box delivered straight to the US! Some fine wine, a candle light dinner by the sea, when the sun goes down.... the perfect honeymoon.
This marks the end of my Italy trip, but it won't be my last trip to Italy, there's just so many more places to see!
Gear - Sony a7 + Sony FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS + Konica Hexanon AR 40mm f1.8
Post processing - Capture One Pro 8