Play Hard Travel

Want to see Italy like an Italian? Vacation like one.

The month is August and it is hot in Rome; it’s also a bit quieter than usual. Why? The locals have left for holiday – and they’ve headed to the Cinque Terre.

Nestled along the northwest coast of Italy, locals flock to one of five small little towns, accessible only by train or boat. The towns, Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia and Vernazza, are connected by the Sentiero Azzurro or “Azure Trail” that hugs the coastline and pass through citrus trees, grape vineyards and other gardens of locals who live throughout the hillside.

Each town offers a different personality, from the bustling beach destination of Monterosso al Mare, with pizzerias tucked in alleyways, and marketplace packed with charcuterie, cheese and fruits; the quiet hilltop retreat of Corniglia to the perfectly situated town of Vernazza’s picturesque fishing village.

It’s undoubtedly become more and more popular over the years, but it maintains the feeling of visiting to another time – where shop owners catch up in the street, grandma hangs her laundry to dry out of her windows, and life just moves at a leisurely pace. Where colors pop, gelato is a snack, pesto is abundant, the smell of freshly baked focaccia bread wafts through the streets and the faint sound of the train passes throughout the day.

Want to feel like an Italian? Visit the Cinque Terre. Throw out the schedule, slow your pace and block out your evenings to wine and dine on the cliffs and shores of the Italian Riviera. You’ll never want to leave.

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