Vernazza is inscribed on the list of the most beautiful hamlets of Italy. Same as Riomaggiore and Manarola it has the typical tower houses, but here they are more refined than in others villages of Cinque Terre. Here are the loggias, porticoes and decorated portals. Probably Vernazza is the most beautiful village of all five Cinque Terre.
How to reach Vernazza?
- by train – you get off on Vernazza railway station, more details in the previous post.
- by car – if you arrive from the west you take an SP 63 and then you turn right and follow the signs to Vernazza; from the east, you take the SP 51 and then the SP 61. Follow the signs to Vernazza. You can’t get to the village centre. There are two big parking places close to Vernazza. From there you can get an electric bus (ticket 1,50€) to reach the centre.
- by ferry – Vernazza has a small, natural harbour, more details in the previous post.
Vernazza’s name comes from the Latin adjective verna, which means “native”, and from the name of a local wine, vernaccia (that means „indigenous” or “ours”).
The first records of Vernazza came from the Roman Age. However, due to security reasons, its population lived more inland, on the heights of Reggio. During the Middle Age, Vernazza was an important harbour ruled by the families of Da Passano, Ponzò and Fieschi. In 1276 was purchased by the Republic of Genoa.
Things to see & do:
Chiesa di Santa Margherita di Antiochia (Church of St. Margaret of Antioch)
It was built in 1318 in Ligurian Gothic style by the Masters Antelami. It was modified and rebuilt during the ages. The current construction presents three naves and an octagonal tower that is 40 m high.
Palazzo con i portici (Palace with porticoes)
There is located an old building in the front of the church, endowed with narrow porticoes with stone pavement and wooden ceiling. It is used as a meeting point for the inhabitants of Cinque Terre.
Torre Belforte e Castello Doria (Belforte Tower and Doria Castle)
Address: via San Francesco
Entrance: 1,50€ (NOT included in Cinque Terre Card)
You have to go through many, many steps, but at the end, the views will be marvellous!
The castle was built in XI century. It was built to protect the town from the attacks of North African pirates. Nowadays it includes ramparts and two round towers. One of the towers is situated on the path that leads to Corniglia (Sentiero Azzurro). Another one is located in the centre of a panoramic terrace of the castle. It is possible to go up on the top of this tower. From there the view is more and more breathless 😉
In the past, the castle was defended by the bronze cannons. One of them, with an inscription ” Comunitas Vernatiae “, was taken as a spoil of war by British soldiers. Now it is exposed in the British Museum in London.
Chiesa di San Francesco dei Frati Minori Osservanti (Church of Reformed Franciscan Friars Minor)
It was built in the XVII century. The church includes a quadrangular tower from the XVI century and remnants of older walls. Next to it, you can find … another panoramic terrace 🙂 where you can admire a fantastic view on Vernazza.
On 25 October 2011, Vernazza was struck by torrential rains. There were a massive flooding and mudslides that left the village buried in over 4 metres of mud and debris. The flood took the lives of 3 Vernazza residents. Their bodies were washed ashore near St. Tropez, France weeks later. The flood caused over 100 million euro of damage. The village was evacuated and was left uninhabitable for months as the Italian army and emergency workers helped to dig it out. Now the inhabitants of Vernazza continue to stabilize its hillsides and rebuild its infrastructure, homes and businesses.
Vernazza was one of the Cinque Terre that was devastated in the hardest way by the fury of the water. However, the tragic day didn’t leave only the destruction. The debris carried out to the sea by the water formed a new beach. Much bigger than the one that is located in the village harbour. You can find it when you go down by the via Roma. When on the left you will see a natural arcade, you can pass it and you arrive in totally different place 😉 A long and big beach where you can take a rest 😉 That’s really very good choice for a sun bathing!
In Vernazza, it is opened in both directions (!!!). It connects Vernazza with Corniglia (3,45 km; 1:50h) and with Monterosso al Mare ( 3,60 km; 2 h). According to the inhabitants of Vernazza, Sentiero Azzurro that passes through their village is the most beautiful part of this trial. Probably their are not very objective 😉 …. but the trial here is really outstanding. A toll costs 7,50 €, but if you have the Cinque Terre Card it is free of charge.
WARNING Autumn 2017: This part is temporarily closed for winter season. It should be reopened on spring 2018.
Vernazza as all Cinque Terre has many places where you can eat some delicious things! Here I list you the meals and drinks you should absolutely try in Vernazza!
- Tian di Vernazza (pan of Vernazza) is a pan of anchovies and potatoes cooked and mixed together with local oil, white wine, garlic, lemon, fresh tomato, parsley, oregano and rosemary …. delicious!
- Torta „Stalin” („Stalin” cake) but don’t be afraid, it is not THAT Stalin 😉 Its name comes from the name of eccentric, Vernazzian pastry chef who invented this cake about 25 years ago. The cake is a kind of tart, with fruit jam, dark chocolate and then covered with pastry …. fantastic!
- Cinque Terre DOC wine – dry, white wine. It can be produced only in municipality of Monterosso, Vernazza and Riomaggiore. Perfect with the tian di Vernazza 😉
- Sciacchetrà DOC wine – sweet, typical wine from Cinque Terre. It is produced less than 50 thousands bottles per year … it is a real speciality from this part of Liguria!
We have almost already finished the visit of Cinque Terre … now last but not least: MONTEROSSO.