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Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast for Workation

What’s the difference between Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast

So you’re thinking of heading to Italy for your workation, but you can’t decide between the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast during your Italy Workaiton package. Cinque Terre, is a string of five charming fishing villages nestled in the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea.  The Amalfi Coast is known for its dramatic cliffs, picturesque towns, and beautiful beaches. 

Vernazza is the most popular village to visit in Cinque Terre with its picturesque harbor and beautiful castle while the hiking trails that connect the villages offer stunning views of the coast and the opportunity to get an authentic feel for the region’s natural beauty. Positano is the most popular town to visit on the Amalfi Coast with its iconic pastel-colored houses and luxurious beach clubs while a boat tour exploring the coast, hidden coves, and beaches bring the natural treasures of the region to life..

Cinque Terre has a more laid-back and rustic feel, while the Amalfi Coast is known for its glamor and luxury. There are many reasons why Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast are endlessly part of Best Destinations in Italy to Visit lists. Find the information you need to choose which is right for you during your Workation.

What is so special about Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre is a unique and captivating region located on the northwest coast of Italy. A network of trails connect the five towns of Cinque Terre, each offering breathtaking views of the sea and countryside.

One of the main reasons to visit Cinque Terre is for its stunning natural scenery featured in the combination of rugged coastline, crystal clear waters, and colorful cliff houses clinging to the cliffs. The ways to travel around Italy can offer different perspectives on how to see Cinque Terre. No matter how you travel, each of the five towns has its own distinct personality showcasing sandy beach, picturesque harbors, or iconic panoramic views and waterfront promenades.

Cinque Terre Towns

1. Monterosso 

The most northerly village of the five towns, Monterosso al Mare was founded during the Roman era. The historic core of town wraps around San Cristoforo Hill, which protected the residents from seaside attack during the 7th century. In the Middle Ages regional noble families disputed the land eventually heeding to the power of the Republic of Genoa. The village spreads over the Bruanco River in the east and the inlet of Fegina to the west. 

The railway station is located in the west, while Old Town was settled on the eastern core. The town boasts less than 2,000 residents between the old and new towns as of 2016. The medieval Torre Aurora, a tower built by the Republic of Genoa, continues to stand on the crag above the sea protecting against pirates. The pilgrimage church of Madonna di Soviore provides spectacular views of the horizon. 

2. Vernazza

In recent years Vernazza has gained the title of the prettiest of the five villages due to its location nestled between a rocky cleft and the turquoise water. Colorful tower houses look as though they were stacked atop one another overlooking the narrow cobbled lanes. Fewer than 1,000 people hold residency inside an area of less than four square miles. Roman citizens founded the town but archeologists discovered remnants of settlement dating back to 1,000 BC situated inland along the heights of Reggio. 

The natural harbor played an important role during the Middle Ages, growing the fortunes of a variety of noble families before the arrival of the Genovese in the 13th century. The tower homes reflect the history of the region extending along the river valley and up to the local summit hiding the village from view to approaching boats. A round tower erected during the war between the republics of Genoa and Pisa remains, offering a grand view of the headlands. 

3. Corniglia

The quiet town of Corniglia provides visitors and locals with a sense of tranquility during the rush of daily visitors in the high-season. The town stands nearly 600 feet above the sea and is the only town of the famous Cinque Terre without a harbor. People arriving by train must descend more than 300 steps down from the platform to reach the streets of the village. Approximately 300 people live in town and escape the Mediterranean heat in the shade provided by the stacked homes and narrow alleyways. 

The name Corniglia derives from the Latin Gens Cornelia, which was a Roman family who owned the land. Possession of the area fell in the Middle Ages Pope Innocent IV took the land from a collection of lords and counts and gave the area to Nicoló Fieschi, who held the village until the appearance of the Genovese. The church of San Pietro located near the top of the terraced steps provides a fantastic example of Gothic style architecture from the early 14th century. 

4. Manarola

The stunning seaside town offers a miniature harbor and a charming central piazza looking towards the water. The village stands in the vicinity of the Municipality of Riomaggiore but has a deeper history than the town to its south. The Romans settled the village and named it in reference to Manium Arula, the small altar of the Mani Gods. Nearly 400 people reside in Manarola. The village in its current iteration stems from the 12th century when residents of the mountain village of Volastra immigrated closer to the water. 

Lords of the Carpena and Fieschi families ruled over Manarola until the late 13th century when Genoa subdued its rivals along the coastline. The houses are stacked along the rocky outcropping but aligned near the valley in view of the banks of the Grippo stream. The oldest buildings encircle the main piazza. The 14th century gothic façade of the Nativita di Maria Vergine church contains a fabulous rose window framed by Carrara marble. 

5. Riomaggiore

The most southerly town of Cinque Terre is the easiest to reach. Greek refugees founded the historic city center in the 7th century AD in what is now a village known as Montenegro located atop the hill. The urban center shifted toward the coastline in the Middle Ages after falling under the rule of various feudal families before the Republic of Genoa landed. Houses have long narrow rows edging the Rio Maggiore Valley. Fishing boats fill the harbor and farms blossom on the terraced mountains. Two stony beaches frame the harbor. 

The population of Riomaggiore reaches 2,500 residents, which includes people in the greater municipality. The village strikes a spectacular image between a narrow cleft of two steep headlands and the splashing water below. Elements of a 15th century castle remain exposed in the form of two round towers and partial walls northwest of town. Due to its accessibility from popular cities, such as Pisa and Florence, Riomaggiore is often the most crowded of the five towns throughout the day, second to Monterosso because of its long private beach.

Hiking Cinque Terre

The most prominent excursion when staying in Cinque Terre is participating in a hike along the former shepherd’s trails connecting the distinctive towns. The regional government charges a modest fee to hikers trekking the trails. This fee accounts for the upkeep of the walking sites and helps maintain the beauty of the National Park. Visitors planning on hiking the trails can buy a Cinque Terre Card from one of the train stations in any of the villages. 

The card provides access to all the trekking paths, use of the ecological park buses which shuttles trekkers between routes, and also offers a Wifi internet connection. Children under the age of four are allowed on the trails and shuttles for free. The following is a condensed list of the hiking rails found around Cinque Terre, noting the most popular hikes, along with the recommended trails leading away from the crowds and worthy of attention. The lesser-known trails are mostly free and have fantastic seascape panoramas.    

Azure Trail

The main pathway for which people to Cinque Terre has a fabulous history carved by the locals eager to visit the neighboring towns. Mules once traversed the rugged terrain carrying merchandise for trade or selling. The path connects Riomaggiore to Monterosso, traveling over seven miles and reaching more than 650 feet above sea level at its highest point. The overall pathway breaks down to contain three miles of dirt paths, over one mile of mule tracks, and less than a mile of cobblestone streets located inside the villages. 

The entire trail takes approximately five hours to complete depending on your pace and fitness level. Locals and visitors who have stayed in the villages recommend taking the path at your leisure and stopping in each village for a sense of local life. The famous walkway, known as Via dell’Amore or “Lovers’ Lane) connected Riomaggiore to Manarola on a path less than a mile long. The short, simple trail has been closed since 2012 after a series of massive mudslides. Construction has begun recently, with engineers estimating the path will be ready to open by April of 2019. There is another trail that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola, or the town can be reached by train or boat.

Corniglia to Volastra to Manarola

The hidden route blends a number of walking trails and takes approximately two and a half hours to traverse, depending on your pace and fitness level. The paths travel over three miles between the towns of Corniglia and Manarola on the coastline and Volastra, which is located in the hills. A series of 1,200 steep steps connects Volastra to Manarola, making it much easier to travel from Corniglia to Volastra and ending in Manarola, as opposed to the other way around. 

The small towns provide a secret sanctuary from the crowds swarming the best-known trail connecting the five towns, while also offering magnificent views of the sea, lush greenery, and the aroma of grapevines and olive orchards. The narrow pathways also lead to charming Volastra, a town whose streets and shops visitors to the area frequently overlook. It is a great place to stop for a refreshing scoop of gelato or sorbetto as you discover the differences of Italy’s North, Central, and South in landscape, culture and flavor.

Ring of Riomaggiore

The short path around the Ring of Riomaggiore consists of over two miles of hiking trails and an average travel time of one hour and twenty minutes. The route consists of taking trail Three to reach the 14th century sanctuary above Riomaggiore and following the trail Three-A on the way down from the promontory. The trail is perfect for people seeking out extravagant views of the coastline, terraced mountains, and colorful villages. 

The sanctuary terrace provides one of the best, unadulterated views of Cinque Terre, the protruding mountains, and blend of lush greenery and turquoise water. The trail leads alongside the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista and the 5th century fortifications of the Castello before reaching the Sanctuary of Madonna di Montenero located at 1,000 feet above sea level. Other tourists visit the main points of the trail, such as the sanctuary and historic castle, but the trek provides a serene and rarely frequented path in which you can enjoy the splendors of the landscape.

Monterosso to Levanto

The town of Levanto is located north of the Mesco Cape and is the first town north of Cinque Terre. The trail offers a different perspective of the coastline and the way time affected the surrounding villages or towns along the Italian Riviera. Trail number 10 touches the edge of the cape at a length of a mile, with experienced and intermediate hikers averaging less than an hour to complete the journey. The path continues to Levanto over another three miles, which takes an extra two hours to complete. 

Stairs lead down the hillside, alongside Levanto’s castle, and into the heart of the gorgeous seaside town. The pathway along the cape follows an old donkey trail leading through pine forests and lush Mediterranean vegetation. Mesco Point has a captivating panorama of the promontories along the secluded coastline of Cinque Terre to the south and the lavish coastline of the Italian Riviera to the north. The ruins of the Chapel of San Antonio, along with an old lighthouse, ornament the footpath between the views. The hill leading down to Levanto provides a sensational vista of 18th century architecture and sporadic waves on which locals surf.

Riomaggiore to Portovenere

The long trail between Riomaggiore and Portovenere takes trekkers from the edges of the Italian Riviera to the northernmost town on the Gulf of Poets. Experienced and intermediate hikers complete the route with an average of five hours on the total trail spanning more than seven miles. The challenging hike begins with a long ascent along the hill bordering Riomaggiore. Pine forests shade the walkway leading to the 14th century Sanctuary of Montenero. 

The path ascends the mountain ridge separating Cinque Terre from La Spezia rewarding hikers with a spectacular view over the cliffs. The path continues on the vista looking out to the Mediterranean Sea and the edges of the islands of Elba, Capraia, and Corsica. The trail emerges from the woods at the gulf and descends into Portovenere, a prestigious town known for its beautiful architecture and magnificent harbor filled with lavish yachts. A ferry connects Portovenere to Levanto every evening, where a quick train ride leads back to the towns of Cinque Terre. 

What is so special about the Amalfi Coast?

The Amalfi Coast has been a popular place to visit on the southern coast of Italy for thousands of years known for its dramatic cliffs, picturesque towns, and beautiful beaches. The combination of the rugged coastline, the clear Mediterranean waters, and the colorful houses perched on the cliffs make the Amalfi Coast one of the most beautiful and iconic destinations in Italy for a fantastic Workation.

Known for its luxury and glamor,  the Amalfi Coast is home to high-end hotels, elegant restaurants, and beach club, as well as secluded coves, hiking trails, and customary local cuisine that showcases the beauty and charm of the landscape supporting many ideas of the top dishes to eat in Italy and where to find them.

Top Amalfi Coast Towns

1. Positano

Positano is considered the start of the Amalfi Coast and has ancient foundations dating back to the Roman era. It was popular among wealthy tourists in the 20th century and remainsknown for its colorful houses cascading down the hillsides watching over the Mediterranean Sea.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta features a 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary and a beautiful dome covered with majolica-tile. The Path of the Gods hiking trail offers breathtaking views of the coastal cliffs and sprawling sea while Spiaggia Grande beach is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. With boat tours, boutiques, and local cuisine, Positano is the epitome of charm.

2. Amalfi

Amalif is the coastline’s namesake and has a tremendous history dating back to the Roman era with its power growing with its maritime trade reaching its peak in the Middle Ages. The coastal setting and impressive cliffs framing the winding streets give it a powerful image. 

The Cathedral of Sant’Andrea provides a stunning example of Arab-Norman architecture dating back to the 9th century while the Paper Mill Museum focuses on the history of paper production dating back centuries. Boat tours give ample views of the coastline and local beaches offer fantastic swimming areas and sunbathing opportunities. The coastal cuisine demonstrates the grand flavors of the region focused on local ingredients. 

3. Ravello

Ravello sits at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level offering the best view of the coastal ridges and turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city has encouraged artists for more than a century with its beauty, inspiring people like Wagner, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Gore Vidal. Many people visit the titillating walkways and dramatic vistas on a day trip from other towns’ winding roads up and down the coastline.

The relaxed atmosphere supports the views to the water and the tranquil façade of the 13th century-whitewashed cathedral. Villa Rufolo was also erected in the 13th century and shapes the hillside with a ledge famous for its panorama. Giovanni Boccaccio mentioned the villa in his famous work Decameron. The terrace inspired Richard Wagner’s 1880 opera Parsifal. Villa Cimbrone hosts lush gardens, elaborate fountains, and stunning temples as backdrops to the magnificent belvedere providing the most iconic view of the shoreline guiding your eyes to the distant shores on the isle of Capri.

4. Praiano

Praiano is a charming town known for its deep historical origins connected to the Roman Empire. It became a major port for the Republic of Amalfi and later emerged as the center for paper production that flourished around the Middle Ages. It is located on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with fabulous views of the coast and the surrounding mountains. 

The number of churches and chapels around town house beautiful frescoes, religious paintings, and glamorous religious iconography. Artisan workshops reflect the preserved heritage that thrives around the town where you can watch artisans at work as they create handmade crafts.

5. Vietri sul Mare

Vietri sul Mare is the embodiment of the Amalfi Coast’s beauty. The stunning scenery offers great panoramas of the Mediterranean Sea spanning the brightly painted houses and narrow streets wedged between green hills. The town’s history touches on the Roman Empire and grew in strength during the height of the Amalfi Republic as a center for ceramics. 

The churches and chapels decorating the streets speak to the local culture, as well as the beauty of the artisan ceramics with domes shaped by the locally made tiles in addition to the historic frescoes. Visit artisans, wander the streets, and enjoy the views that span centuries. 

When's the best time to visit the Cinque Terre?

May and June or September and October are excellent times to visit Cinque Terre. The weather is mild and pleasant with smaller crowds making it easier to enjoy the region’s natural beauty and culture.

In spring, the wildflowers blossom and the warm, sunny days provide great weather for hiking along the trails that connect the five villages. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the coast or dip your toes into the water for a great introduction to the swimming areas.

In fall, the weather is still warm and sunny with cooler nights offering a fine time to visit the local winery or sample the variety of fresh produce in the local markets and restaurants. The crowds are smaller in making it a more peaceful time with a combination of great weather, possible activities, and fewer crowds. Both the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are Unesco World Heritage Sites In Italy and you can gain insight to your preferred experience or look for new ideas with our Italy Workation packages.

When's the best time to visit the Amalfi Coast?

The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast for sightseeing and good weather is in May and June or September and October. The water and land have warmer temperatures in May making it a great time to hike, walk, boat, or sail with a minimal chance of storms. September and October  also offer the most active blossoming gardens around the Amalfi Coast. 

June, July, and August are the most popular times to visit the Amalfi Coast for international travelers, as well as Neapolitans who take to the beaches for the weekend filling up restaurants and lounge chairs quickly throughout the day. During hot days, the humidity rises, service slows down during peak temperatures, and some businesses close to give their employees a rest from the heat. 

September and October offer a similar point of view as May, with smaller crowds and great weather providing the best times to explore the beauty of the Amalfi Coast and surrounding highlights. You may find a number of the most Unique Lodgings in Italy as the weather cools during the day, which can enhance your opportunities to hike the trails or visit local farms producing famous Campania lemons and grapes for local wines. Before traveling, you can find information on what you need to know about Italy for your Workation package.

Find Your Best Workation Destination in Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast

No matter when you visit the breathtaking destinations of Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, you can find the best experiences in Italy for your Workation. Both coastlines share the beauty of the Thyrennian Sea Side, where the cliffs meet crystal clear water and atmospheric beaches. Both can provide preserved medieval streets and the chance to enjoy the idyllic countryside offering opportunities for every kind of Workation package focusing on a work-life balance. 

Take advantage of the information we provide to support your best Italy Workation package. Let us maximize your productivity and accelerate your growth to the right work-life balance for you with an authentic Italy experience. Take one step closer to planning your Workation or discover more information with a Guide to Italy Coffee Culture.