Among the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre on the northwestern coast of Italy, Corniglia kind of gets a bad rap. It’s the smallest of the towns, but the biggest drawback is its location- perched on top of a cliff and accessible from the train station only by shuttle bus (which stops running at 19:20 in the evening) or a 382-step brick staircase called the Lardarina. However, this shouldn’t deter you from staying in this charming village. Here are 5 reasons why you should stay in Corniglia:
It’s quiet. Unlike the other towns, which are more accessible and therefore more touristy, Corniglia will offer you a more authentic experience. Every day that we were there, we bought our food from the same grocer, who gave us leftover foccacia from the day and gave us recipes for what to make for dinner. It gets a bit touristy during the day, but ultimately clears out at night, making it the perfect place to go for an evening stroll and meet some locals while drinking prosecco at the bars.
It’s cheaper. I went with two of my girlfriends and we stayed in an Airbnb home that could have slept four, was beautiful, airy, and had THREE terraces. Yes, you read that right. One upstairs, the one pictured above, and a garden that had turtles living in it! It was our own private paradise all for the cool price of 100€ per night (total, not per person). We were a short walk from everything we needed and our host was responsive and so kind. Everything we’d looked at in the other towns had been significantly pricier, so if cost is an issue for you, definitely look into the options in Corniglia.
The locals are friendlier. Because they don’t have to deal with the same type of obnoxious tourist groups that the other towns do- seriously, we heard more English and French than Italian in every town except Corniglia– they’re more willing, eager even, to help you out despite their possibly limited English. After meeting a local guy in a bar on our last night (remember what I said about drinking prosecco?), we discovered that he was related to half the town, and he spent our last day taking us around to some of his favorite places before we had to catch the train back to Pisa. It was the perfect way to end our trip, and definitely made us feel like we got to experience a little bit of the Italy we had hoped to see.
The views are incredible. One of the benefits of being up on a cliff is that you have the full benefit of panoramic views of the town itself, along the coast, and, if the weather permits, you can see all four of the other towns if you’re standing at the right spot. I could have sat there for hours just gazing at the blue of the sea against the green of the landscape and the colorful little houses dotting the cliffs. Totally worth being back by the last shuttle from the train stations so you can catch the sunset!
It has a different feel than the other towns. Here I’m not talking about the crowds of tourists, I’m talking about the difference between towns that touch the sea and this one little anomaly that doesn’t. Corniglia‘s very existence among these five villages is odd- fishing is a difficult industry when the sea is a 100 meter drop below you. So the locals have their little vineyards along the side of the cliffs and their gardens where they grow lemons bigger than your fist and the sweetest smelling roses you’ll ever encounter.
Hopefully at this point I’ve convinced you why you should stay in Corniglia, but in case you need one more reason, it’s the best place in the Cinque Terre to learn the true meaning of the Italian phrase Il dolce far niete, or “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Explore all the little side streets with foccacia or gelato in hand and you’re bound to find a spot where you can sit and munch and wonder how you’ll possibly go back to your everyday life.
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