Simply enchanting! A sight that provokes a longing to return again and again. As our train passed through a series of tunnels after La Spezia and was about to enter Riomaggiore station, the openings in the tunnel walls provided a fleeting view of the precipice leading almost vertically down to a spectacular expanse of blue Mediterranean.Crystal blue, totally different from colours of seas I have seen so far. So distinct that this shade of blue has come to be known as Mediterranean Blue. Riomaggiore is one of the five villages on the rugged portion of Italian Riviera. The other four villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola. All these five villages and the surrounding hillsides dot the Riviera and belong to Cinque Terre (meaning ‘five lands’) National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage site. Since almost thousand years from now, residents of these villages carved terraces on the rugged and steep rocky lands right upto the cliffs. These heavily terraced hills were used to cultivate grapes and olives. And today this region flourishes for its vineyards, some of the best Italian wines, olives and fishing.
|Riomaggiore Rail Station|
|A view of the Riviera|
|Tunnel leading to the beach at Riomaggiore|
|Shop for water sports equipments|
|Water sports equipments are available on rental for tourists|
|Map of Cinque Terre National Park, UNESCO World Heritage site|
|Cafes and shop selling souvenirs and local wares|
|Riomaggiore beach area|
|Houses at Riomaggiore|
Photographs : Arundhati Sengupta
How to get to Cinque Terre from Florence ( Firenze )
There are several trains run by Trenitalia from Florence to Pisa and from Pisa to La Spezia. In order to travel to Riviera and Cinque Terre from Florence, one can plan out a comfortable day visit. Buy a ticket at Florence Rail Station for your journey to Riomaggiore. Florence is a very friendly station and buying a ticket is an easy task. Change trains at Pisa and La Spezia. Florence to Pisa takes less than an hour, while Pisa to La Spezia takes around one hour and La Spezia to Riomaggiore about ten minutes.
As Cinque Terre region is heavily terraced upto the cliffs no motorable roads came up over the centuries due to ruggedness and complexities of the Italy’s landmass along the Mediterranean Sea. In absence of such corporate development, the region has retained its pristine beauty. But Italian Railways has done a great job in providing connections to these five villages which otherwise was largely cut off from the larger world. Prior to rail service, boat was the only lifeline linking the isolated communities to the larger world. Railways have made properly guarded pathway around the cliff walls for a spectacular view of the Mediterranean lapping úp against the rocky shores, and also a tunnel running parallel to train tunnel for tourists to take a shorter and easier route to sea level.There are three to four cafes on the riviera where one can enjoy delectable seafood and Italian wine. Washrooms are located near the cafes and at Riomaggiore station where entry fee per person is one euro. The other shops located at the shore end of the tunnel cater to water sports products like kayaks,scuba diving equipments etc. on rental, nice souvenirs and local products.If you plan your stay in La Spezia or any of the Cinque Terre towns you may click the following link to book your stay.