I have long wanted to visit the Cinque Terre, it is a place that has captured my imagination, so the other week I seized my chance and visited this tiny wine region.
The place is named for the five towns – Cinque Terre - which sit in a spectacular landscape of intricately terraced agricultural land covering steep cliff faces all the way down to the sea. The towns themselves cascade down the cliffs in the most amazing way that makes them achingly picturesque – especially in the sunshine.
These towns sit at the head of small valleys, ravines really, which means they can be at sea level rather than on the cliff tops – historically these lands were quite isolated and, before the railways, the main form of communication between them would have been by water. Even today the best way to see the vineyards is by boat as they are dispersed away from the towns and getting around is still hard. Corniglia is the one exception, it sits on the cliff-top and has no harbour.