When visiting Italy’s Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare is an excellent choice for your base. As the largest of the five villages, Monterosso offers a wider range of services, accommodations, and restaurants compared to the other towns. It also boasts a livelier atmosphere and more options for nightlife.

A Village with a Long History

The earliest written record of Monterosso dates back to 1056, but like many settlements in the area, its origins likely stretch much further into the past. As a coastal village, Monterosso was vulnerable to pirate attacks, which led to the construction of fortifications during the Middle Ages. Some remnants of the old city wall and watchtowers can still be seen today, with the most notable being the 16th-century Torre Aurora, perched on a promontory overlooking the sea.

Exploring the Old and New Towns

Monterosso is divided into two distinct sections: Fegina, the new town to the west, and Centro Storico, the old town to the east, with Torre Aurora serving as the midpoint. The Old Town, where most of the sites and a good selection of restaurants are located, is just a short walk from the train station via a tunnel through the hillside.

Points of Interest

While the village itself is the main attraction, there are several additional points of interest worth exploring:

The Church of St. Francis and Capuchin Monastery

Built in the 17th century on San Cristoforo hill, this church houses a number of paintings, including one attributed to Flemish painter Antoon (Anthony) van Dyck, who lived and worked for a time in nearby Genoa. The climb up to the church or the statue of St. Francis and the wolf (Silvio Monfrini, 1962) via Salita dei Cappuccini is rewarded with spectacular views of the village and the sea.

Church of St. John the Baptist

Located in the heart of the Old Town, this 13th-century church showcases the local Gothic architectural style. The bell tower, which was once part of fortifications built for the Republic of Genoa, originally served as a watchtower.

Oratori delle Confraternite

These chapels belong to Monterosso’s two 16th-century confraternities, or benevolent brotherhoods: the Confraternita di Santa Croce (Brotherhood of the Holy Cross) and the Mortis et Orationis Confraternitas (Brotherhood of Death and Prayer).

Piazza Garibaldi

Named after Italy’s military leader and national hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, this town square features a statue of Garibaldi, Monterosso’s City Hall, several restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as benches where visitors can sit and relax.

Passeggiata Lungomare

This pleasant seafront promenade stretches along via Fegina from the new town to the tunnel at Torre Aurora. As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’ll enjoy wonderful views of the beach, the mountain, and the sea, with plenty of benches available for resting. The passeggiata is a popular spot for locals to take their evening walks as well.

Monterosso’s Beaches

Monterosso boasts the best beaches in the Cinque Terre. There’s a small stretch of beach in the Old Town, which shares space with fishing boats, and a larger one (Fegina Beach) in the New Town, with public access in front of the train station.

Getting Around

Monterosso’s train station, located on via Fegina, is the largest in the Cinque Terre. Trains arrive from Genoa and Milan and depart to the other Cinque Terre villages of Vernazza, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and Corniglia.

Exploring the Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare serves as an ideal base for exploring the other villages of the Cinque Terre. Each village has its own unique charm and attractions:


Known for its colorful houses, picturesque harbor, and the Doria Castle, Vernazza is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.


This village is famous for its wine production and the Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane), a romantic walkway that connects Manarola to Riomaggiore.


The southernmost village of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is known for its steep streets, historic churches, and the Via dell’Amore.


Perched on a cliff, Corniglia is the only Cinque Terre village not directly adjacent to the sea. It’s famous for its narrow alleys, terraced vineyards, and stunning views.

Hiking the Cinque Terre

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Cinque Terre is by hiking the trails that connect the villages. The most famous of these is the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail), which runs from Monterosso to Riomaggiore. The trail offers breathtaking views of the coastline and passes through all five villages.

Keep in mind that some sections of the trail may be closed due to landslides or maintenance, so it’s essential to check the current conditions before setting out. Plus, a permit is required to hike the Sentiero Azzurro, which can be purchased at the train stations or tourist information offices in the villages.

Local Cuisine

No visit to the Cinque Terre is complete without sampling the local cuisine. Some specialties to try include:

  • Focaccia: A flat oven-baked bread, often topped with olive oil, salt, and herbs.
  • Farinata: A thin, unleavened pancake made from chickpea flour, water, and olive oil.
  • Pesto: A sauce made from basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, often served with pasta.
  • Anchovies: These small, flavorful fish are a staple of the local diet and are served in a variety of dishes.
  • Sciacchetrà: A sweet dessert wine produced in the Cinque Terre, perfect for sipping after a meal.

When to Visit

The best time to visit the Cinque Terre is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and fall (September to October). During these months, the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the peak summer months. However, keep in mind that some businesses may have reduced hours or be closed entirely during the low season.

Summer (June to August) is the busiest time in the Cinque Terre, with warm temperatures and long, sunny days. While this is a popular time to visit, it can also be quite crowded, and accommodations may be more expensive.

Winter (November to March) is the quietest time in the Cinque Terre, with cooler temperatures and fewer visitors. Some businesses may be closed during this time, but it can be a peaceful time to explore the villages without the crowds.

Final Thoughts

Monterosso al Mare is a charming and convenient base for exploring the Cinque Terre. With its rich history, stunning scenery, and delicious local cuisine, this village offers something for every traveler. Whether you’re hiking the Sentiero Azzurro, relaxing on the beach, or simply wandering the narrow streets of the Old Town, Monterosso al Mare is sure to captivate you with its beauty and charm.

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