Monterosso is the furthest west and least quintessential of the quintet. It is the biggest and the most populated of all five villages. It is actually a little town (about 1500 inhabitants). Has many streets and a long promenade with a long beach. It is the most famous of all Cinque Terre and also the most popular through the tourists.
How to reach Monterosso:
- by train – you get off on the Monterosso al Mare railway station; more details here.
- by car – it is the most accessible by car of all Cinque Terre. You can reach the town with highway A12 and take an exit Carrodano/Levanto. Then you follow the signs to Levanto. After you have reached Levanto you have to follow the road SP 43 to Cinque Terre. After about 20 minutes you arrive at the top of a hill. Then you can choose if you want to turn left or right 😉 When you turn right you will arrive at the newest part of the Monterosso. That is the part with a long public and private beaches, numerous bars, pubs and railway station. Here you can find also a huge parking place. It is located next to the beaches. In low season it costs 2€/h … in high season 2,50€/h (from 8.00 am – 12.00 pm). If you choose to turn left you will arrive in the old part of the town. Also here you will find a quite big parking place. This one costs 1€/h in low season, and 2,50€/h in high season (from 8.00 am – 12.00 pm). From this parking place, you can reach easily the centre of the old town.
- by ferry – the harbour of Monterosso is the biggest of all Cinque Terre, more details here.
The origins of this town date back to the Roman Times. The oldest core was built on S. Cristoforo hill (the hill where now you can find a cemetery). The town played a relevant role in the defence during the Longboard invasion. In the Middle Age the area was a property of various nobles families and in 1276 was purchased by the Republic of Genoa.
Things to see & do
Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist church)
It was built between 1244-1307. It is an example of Ligurian Gothic architecture. The church has three naves with flanks diverging and two-colour façade with rose-window and an ogival portal. Its bell tower was created in the XV century above an ancient medieval watchtower.
Oratorio Mortis et Orations (Oratory of Death and Prayer)
It is a church of “black confraternity”. Its members dressed in black robes. The confraternity was dedicated to aiding widows, orphans and shipwrecked when needed. The church interiors are decorated in baroque style. The interesting characteristic of this church is its decorations that represents death. You find here the seats with carvings and statues of the skeletons. Scary but fascinating 😉
Chiesa di San Francesco (St Francis church)
The building is located on the St Cristoforo hill. It was built in XVII century. It is worth visiting because inside you can admire the very special painting. It is so particular because probably it was painted by Antoon Van Dyck.
Castello e Torre Aurora (Castle and Aurora tower)
The ruins of the old medieval castle are incorporated into the current cemetery on the S. Cristoforo hill. The fortress was built in 1545. In the past, the defence system of the village included the monastery of St Antonio of Mesco (now in ruin) and the thirteen towers. Nowadays only three towers are still visible. One of them is called Aurora Tower. It was built in the XVI century and now is used as a private house.
The Neptune Sculpture
It is situated at the end of the Fegina beach and it takes a part of the Villa Pàstine. The statue was created in 1910 by Arrigo Minerbi. It is 14 meters high and represents a Neptune that carries on his shoulders an enormous shell. In the 30’s of XX century, the shell was used as a dance floor. During the Second World War, the bombs hit the residence of the family Pàstine. The statue was severely damaged. Now it is partially restored.
Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Line)
Here starts the Sentiero Azzurro! It is opened and it leads to Vernazza (3,60 km; 2h). It is the most difficult and the longest part of Sentiero Azzurro. It starts from Fegina beach, the modern part of Monterosso. The toll costs 7,50 €, but if you have Cinque Terre Card the entrance is free of charge.
WARNING Autumn 2017: This part is temporarily closed for winter season. It should be reopened on spring 2018.
Monterosso was badly hit by the 2011 flood. It wasn’t destroyed as much as Vernazza. However, the massive flooding and mudslides left the town buried in over 2 meters of mud and debris. The flood caused over 37 million euro of damages.
Apart from traditional, Ligurian dishes like pesto and focaccia, Monterosso is famous for one dish: torta di riso (rice cake). Its pastry is made from flour, water, wine, cooked rice, oil, eggs and parmesan cheese. It is prepared every year in occasion of the feast of the St Mary on August 14.
We’ve finished our trip in Cinque Terre !!! I hope you will enjoy this very special part of Liguria … and you will love it when you see it in a real life 😉