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Cinque Terre isn’t one place. This famous destination consists of five small villages located on the rugged Italy coast. These cliffs overlook the aqua Ligurian sea as if hiding out from the modern world. In Cinque Terre, you’ll find pesto, hikes, sea food, and charm.
So, unsurprisingly, these rainbow-splashed towns are immensely popular with both tourists and locals alike.
Now, to tell you the truth, I thought a lot of the tourists were quite … unthoughtful toward the fragile surroundings of Cinque Terre. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one destination where I saw the sad reality of “over tourism” in action.
However, I don’t want to spend this post preaching at you. Furthermore, these five villages need tourism to survive considering just how many small B&Bs, tour companies, and restaurants rely on vacationers’ incomes to stay afloat.
Ultimately I wanted to see Cinque Terre, to experience all those gorgeous photos that I had previously seen on Conde Nast, but I still wanted to avoid the crowds if possible.
So I chose to stay in the most remote village out of the five: Corniglia.
And, guys? Staying in Corniglia was an amazing experience.
A. Maz. Ing.
Corniglia was the perfect choice for me because the village fit my own “laid back” style of traveling. It was by far the best spot for traveling Cinque Terre alone.
Not to mention, staying in Corniglia made me feel like a Romantic poet taking a European Grand Tour. In the evenings, I was even inspired me to do some creative writing.
I highly, highly, highly recommending staying in Corniglia if you’re coming to the coastal area of Liguria, even though climbing the stairs to this town is … rather rough on the legs. Prepare for a work out!
Why I Loved Staying in Corniglia
Haha, to tell you the truth, I loved Corniglia so much that I wanted to dedicate an entire post to the town’s most attractive qualities.
Corniglia was a relaxing and peaceful place for spending two days in Cinque Terre – especially after a hectic day of sightseeing among all the tourists.
Below, are the main reasons that I chose this village for my base.
Read on to find out if Corniglia is perfect for your own Italian adventure! Brighter days ahead!
Corniglia is SMALL
Corniglia’s size was an absolute blessing for me.
How small is Corniglia? Well. Only about 150 people reside here. As someone from hectic New Jersey, I’m always shocked that such small populations exist!
By staying in Corniglia, I would wake up early in the morning, walk the hush narrow lanes, listen to the birds, and see the delivery men drop off the produce for the day.
Corniglia was cozy. Safe.
I especially recommend Corgnilia for solo female travelers in Italy who might feel a bit nervous about visiting the country for the first time. Corniglia’s “pocket size” will make you feel right at home.
The Sea Views are Spectacular
Corniglia is the only village in the Cinque Terre not located directly on the sea.
In other parts of the Cinque Terre, such as Monerosso al Mare, you’re able to dedicate plenty of time for chilling on the beaches. And sure, this is a great option in the summer. I promise I’m not belittling the beach.
However, Corniglia has the prettiest views of the sea, because you’re high in the cliffs. I was fine not having the beach in exchange for the perfect blue and distant waters that I saw out of my window every evening.
Not as Many Tourists in Town
To make things even better, due to the town’s limited size, not nearly as many tourists stayed here as the neighboring villages.
Personally, I advocate for staying in the Cinque Terre villages rather than Genoa or La Spezia. The late afternoons are gloriously empty as the day trippers return to their big hotels in much bigger cities. You’re only able to enjoy the quiet later in the day.
And Corniglia? Was the most peaceful place of all.
I would have never guessed I was in a major tourist destination as soon as dinnertime struck the clocks.
Location, Location, Location
Corniglia is smack in the middle of the Cinque Terre.
I mean that literally.
Two towns located on either side of Corniglia.
Corniglia’s prime location makes it easy to split up your visit, especially if you’re a leisurely traveler and staying in the area for more than one day. As for me, I spent my first day exploring Vernazza and Monerosso al Mare and my second day seeing Manarola and Riomaggoire.
Believe me, I was a busy lady. Staying in Corniglia helped me effectively sightsee without too much trouble. … except for the crowded trains. We won’t talk about that.
You’ll Feel Like a Local
Last but not least, you’ll feel like you’re part of the social fabric staying in Corniglia.
Now, I know saying that “you feel like a local” is a cliche phrase that travelers love to throw around when they stay in small rural areas. I get it. Travel blogger use this phrase a lot.
But it’s so true!
Since Corniglia’s so small, you’re bound to strike up a conversation with local residents. I traveled alone and had casual chats at the cafe all the time.
Tips for Staying in Corniglia
I want you guys to enjoy Corniglia as much as I did.
So I have a few suggestions for staying in Corniglia that I also included in this post. I feel like every region in Italy is so different and should be handled as separate countries if that makes sense.
Bring Your Best Walking Shoes
You’ll walk a lot in Corniglia. A lot.
If you’re brave, you’ll take the stairs from the small station to the town. A bus also runs between the town and train station on a regular basis, but I guarantee you’ll be doing some walking even if you take advantage of public transportation.
Merrell makes my favorite hiking shoes in the world. They are well-made and comfortable and will last you years. Highly recommend bringing a pair to Corniglia so you’re able to enjoy all the epic walks without any of the blisters!
Oh, and you may want to bring comfortable moisture wicking socks to keep your feet safe.
Stay in a Family-Run Bed and Breakfast
Honestly, you don’t have much of a choice except staying in a small bed and breakfast in Corniglia. Like I said, no big hotels exist in Corniglia.
If you’re a five star luxury traveler, you need to be prepared to adjust your expectations, but I personally think the accommodation here is delightful and warm.
Not to mention, by staying in a small family-run place, you’ll have a chance to truly feel like you’re part of the community.
My host family was so insanely kind to me on my visit to Corniglia. They gave me tons of tips, made sure I had a hearty breakfast early in the day, and offered their own suggestions for the area. They even gave me free water so I wouldn’t feel too thirsty!!
I know I said this a bunch of times, but feel the words bear repeating: I traveled alone to Cinque Terre, but I never once felt isolated.
Brush Up on Your Italian Speaking Skills
Corniglia attracts a lot of travelers, especially during the mid-afternoon. You’ll encounter plenty of English speakers.
However, I think it’s always polite to learn a few snippets of the local language. Speaking some Italian will set you apart from everyone else. Not to mention, who doesn’t love learning new languages?
Don’t forget to practice and learn a couple of words.
Wake Up Early or Explore Late
I know I mentioned that mid-afternoons are rough when it comes to tourist crowds. Luckily, it’s possible to entirely avoid these groups if you play your cards right.
I recommend waking up early in the morning for breakfast and strolling through Corniglia at its most serene. You won’t feel like you’re in one of the most popular regions in all of Italy!
At this point, I want to make a note to say that no major attractions exist in Corniglia. Sure, you can walk and see Scalinata Lardarina, which is the staircase with pararomic sea views, as well as reflect on life inside Chiesa Di San Pietro, which is the town’s small chapel.
But the beauty of Corniglia comes with just … existing, taking in all sounds and smells, and going slow through the small streets. No rushing.
Still bring your guidebook, though! You’ll want to do research on places to eat and stay, after all.
I want to reiterate that you shouldn’t expect lavish hotels in Corniglia.
Actually, I don’t think Corniglia has any chain hotels. I personally love this about the town!
Below, I’ve included some recommendations to help you plan your trip!! Have a great time.
Places to Stay in Corniglia
- Bed and Breakfast Le Terrazze: A charming guesthouse that is located only 9 minutes from Corniglia’s train station! Perfect location! (from TripAdvisor.com or Booking.com).
- il Magàn: Located 1 km from Corniglia, this guesthouse has a path that goes down to a marina that overlooks the Ligurian Sea. (from TripAdvisor.com or Booking.com).
- Sandra Villa Rooms: Small renovated rooms in a rustic building. (from TripAdvisor.com or Booking.com).
I hope you enjoyed reading about staying in Corniglia Italy. Definitely consider this gorgeous village on your next visit! What are your favorite places in Italy?