Planning a trip to Cinque Terre? If so, you will definitely spend some time a Monterosso al Mare! This guide is full of everything you need to know, including the best things to do in Monterosso, where to sleep, eat and sunbathe, everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip in my Liguria.
There is a reason why the five colorful villages of the Cinque Terre are one of the TOP destinations in Italy for foreign tourists: the aquamarine sea, the pastel buildings perched on almost vertical cliffs overlooking the sea, the vineyards, the lemons (golden trumpets of sunshine, as Montale defined them), all this intertwines with each other to create that timeless atmosphere typical of the "Italian summers".
The only dilemma for those who want to organize their holiday here is to decide which of Monterosso, Rio Maggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Manarola to choose as a base.
Monterosso it is the largest village in the Cinque Terre, the one with the widest beach and the largest number of accommodation facilities. And this is why I feel I can recommend it to everyone.
Furthermore it is the one where it is easiest to move, because it is flatter than the others and is therefore perfect for those with children or reduced mobility or who simply do not want to “climb” every time to go to the beach.
These are the reasons why, every year, more and more tourists choose Monterosso as a base to move around to discover the other nearby villages.
In this travel guide to Monterosso I will leave you a series of information that may be useful for organizing your holiday.
- 1 - Where is Monterosso (by car, by train, by boat, by plane
- 2 - How to get to Monterosso
- 3 - What to see in Monterosso
- 4 - Beaches of Monterosso
- 5 - Activities not to be missed in Monterosso
- 6 - Where to sleep in Monterosso
- 7 - Where to eat in Monterosso
- 8 - Events not to be missed in Monterosso
- 9 - Travel information
Monterosso is located in the province of La Spezia in Liguria, from which it is about thirty kilometers away and is part of the Cinque Terre National Park.
The village is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre and stands overlooking a natural gulf that extends from Punta Mesco.
If you look at the map below you will understand exactly where Monterosso is located, between Levanto to the West e Vernazza to East:
One of the peculiarities of Monterosso is the fact that the village is literally divided in two by a promontory: to reach the ancient historic core, in fact, you have to cross a tunnel about a hundred meters long.
reach Monterosso you have several solutions available. I, who are from Genoa and have a home there, generally use the train.
You can reach Monterosso by car via the A12 Genoa / La Spezia motorway or via the A15 Parma / La Spezia.
Either way you I suggest you take the Levanto - Carrodano exit, continue following the signs for Levanto and then for Monterosso.
Alternatively you can also exit at brugnato and follow the signs for Monterosso.
If you want to reach Monterosso via the A15 Parma / La Spezia motorway you can also choose to exit directly at La Spezia and continue along the SS1 and then the SP38 or along the SP370 and then the SP51.
Once you arrive in Monterosso you will find two car parks dedicated to non-residents: one in the locality Loreto and one in the locality Fegina.
Although Monterosso is the village with more parking spaces available, thecar is not the best solution for getting around the Cinque Terre: places for cars are few and expensive, especially in the summer.
Il better means to reach and move between the Cinque Terre and, therefore, also Monterosso, is the train.
All the villages of this stretch of coast follow one after the other along the Genoa - La Spezia line. The regional trains that connect them run approximately every 20 - 30 minutes and during the summer season even every 15 minutes.
You can buy tickets every time you hop on and off, or opt for the cheapest one 5 Terre Train MS Card which allows you to make an unlimited number of train trips to fully enjoy the Cinque Terre.
In addition, there are numerous Intercity trains from large Italian cities that stop directly at the Monterosso station.
To reach Monterosso by plane you need to know that the closest airports are Christopher Columbus of Genoa (about 112 km away) and the Galileo Galilei of Pisa (a circa 84 km).
From both airports you can choose to rent a car or, preferably, take the train.
During the summer season it starts a navigation service
The boats depart from the ports of Spezia, Portovenere and connect the Cinque Terre with the countries of Levanto e Portofino.
Tickets can be purchased in the kiosks of the various marinas.
Before talking to you about what to see and do in Monterosso, let me explain for a moment how Monterosso is made.
Unlike the other four villages of the Cinque Terre, Monterosso has an "old" part and a "new" part, distinct from each other and divided by a tunnel dug under the promontory of San Cristoforo.
The tunnel is easily walkable and motorized vehicles that can pass through it are limited and must have a permit.
This part of the town is dominated by the walls of the ancient fortress - the Torre Aurora - and by the remains of the Fieschi Castle, as well as by the Church of San Giovanni Battista and the Convent of the Capuchins.
It is also home to brightly colored houses, winding streets, and a few steep stone steps that are common to all five Cinque Terre villages.
There is also a small pebble beach (Spiaggia Tragagià) inside the marina.
Also said Fegina, the modern section extends along the coast from the promontory of San Cristoforo to Punta Mesco.
This is where you will find the most beautiful beach in Monterosso (indeed, the most beautiful beach in the Cinque Terre), the railway station and one of the two parking lots for visitors.
It's only about a 15-minute walk from end to end, through the tunnel, so you'll spend time on both sides.
Being the largest of the Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso is certainly the one that offers the most both in terms of natural beauty and in terms of historical and cultural heritage.
Below I will list what they are the stops not to be missed during your visit.
La Church of St. John the Baptist it is located in the historic center of Monterosso, nestled between the buildings of the ancient village.
The building was built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries and, like many Ligurian churches, this one is also characterized by a façade with two-tone white and dark serpentine bands.
Inside you can admire the "Madonna del Rosario", the work of Luca Cambiaso.
Monterosso was once surrounded by an important defensive system. In memory of this, some towers remain around the village, one of these is the Aurora Tower. Today you will find a bar - restaurant here.
La Giant statue it is certainly one of the most particular attractions of Monterosso. It is a huge reinforced concrete statue that depicts the god Neptune.
The sculpture was conceived by Arrigo Minerbi and the engineer Levacher in 1910 to adorn Villa Pastine: once, in fact, Neptune supported an enormous shell which was nothing more than a particular terrace overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately the entire villa was razed to the ground during the bombing of the Second World War and today only this imposing statue remains.
Il Sanctuary of Soviore it is located more than 400 meters above sea level. To reach it you can use the car (parking is free), take the bus that leaves from the historic center of Monterosso or take a suggestive, but tiring path through the woods (path n ° 509).
The origins of the Sanctuary are still uncertain, but a document traces it back to the early 1200s, thus making it one of the oldest monasteries in Liguria.
Legend has it that, at the arrival of the barbarian hordes of Rotari, at the end of 600 AD, the inhabitants of the area fled taking care, first, to bury the image of the Madonna. Centuries later it was a priest who found it following the flight of a white dove.
Since 11 May 1974, the Madonna of Soviore has been the patroness of the diocese of La Spezia, Sarzana and Brugnato.
Finally, the last stop that I recommend you to see in Monterosso is the Convent of the Capuchin Monks which is located on top of the promontory that divides the village in two.
The convent dates back to the first half of the 1600s and in the Napoleonic period it was transformed into a seat for a garrison. It returned to its original function in 1816, after the fall of Napoleon.
Numerous are kept inside the convent valuable works including two canvases by Luca Cambiaso and one by Bernardo Strozzi. You can also admire "The Crucifixion ", canvas attributed to Van Dyck.
Look at the sea water of Monterosso, wouldn't you like to take a dip in it? I have never been able to resist it, to tell the truth, it is one of my favorite beaches in Liguria.
One of the reasons why Monterosso is very popular with tourists is the long and wide Fegina beach, the largest of all the Cinque Terre and the only one of sand.
Behind it there is a long promenade full of shops, bars and restaurants.
The Fegina beach is located a few meters from the train station and you can take advantage of the stretches of free beach or rent beach umbrellas and sunbeds in an establishment: all this makes it very convenient even for families with children.
The most characteristic stretch of the beach is certainly the one under the Giant Statue.
Turn right when you exit the train station, walk for a few minutes and pass the various restaurants, the car park and the small football field and you will arrive at the best stretch of "beach" after Fegina Beach.
La Il Gigante beach it's smaller but if you can't find a place in Fegina, or it's too crowded, the beach under the Giant's Statue is an excellent “Plan B”.
Portiglione it is a free beach that is not very frequented (at least by tourists) but still very pleasant.
Walk left from the station for five minutes and go through the tunnel. You will emerge in the "old Monterosso" and you will quickly see its small beach, the one called Swallow.
Thanks to my friend Simon for immortalizing me in this epic shot on the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza!
In addition to things to see in Monterosso that I suggested to you earlier, there are a few outdoor that I recommend you do during a stay in the village.
The Cinque Terre are famous for the beautiful hiking trails and also in the surroundings of Monterosso you will find different routes to take.
Among the paths that I recommend there is the one that connects Monterosso to Vernazza, one of the best known in the area. The path is more or less 3,5 km long and takes about 1.30 h / 2 h depending on the pace.
Another interesting trek is that which connects Monterosso to Levanto. The length of this trail is about 8 km.
Finally I recommend the aforementioned path to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Soviore, but only if you are trained: the stretch from the town to the Church is all uphill.
Another experience not to be missed in Monterosso is the boat ride to discover the Cinque Terre from the sea. In this way you can enjoy the villages from a different point of view than usual.
During the tour you can go down to visit the villages, but if you prefer to do it by train, know that the boat will also make a stop in Portovenere, one of the most beautiful villages in Liguria which is located just outside the Cinque Terre National Park.
If you love sports, one of the best activities to do in Monterosso is rent a kayak, a canoe or a paddle surf to paddle out to sea and enjoy the view of the beach and the ancient village from the sea.
If you go trekking in the Cinque Terre you cannot help but notice the vineyards perched on the steep slopes. You will realize by looking at them that those who made them and those who cultivate them are really a hero! Just think that, due to the difficulty of working on such a difficult terrain, from general maintenance to harvest, everything still has to be done by hand.
Despite this, many young people and many people in the area have decided to continue to carry on the tradition and there are many vineyards and small producers.
There are two main varieties of local wine: the Cinque Terre DOC (a dry white obtained with the native Bosco grape, together with Albarola and Vermentino) and lo Sciacchetrà DOC (a sweet dessert wine), and I invite you to try both!
As I told you at the beginning, Monterosso is the village of the Cinque Terre with the most availability of accommodation facilities.
Here you will find accommodation for all tastes, but I still advise you to move in time: prices tend to rise as the summer season approaches.
Read also: Where to sleep in the Cinque Terre, which village to choose?
Below I recommend some of the best hotels in the village that you could consider for your stay.
Hotel of the Friends: a good solution in the historic center of Monterosso and has an excellent quality / price ratio.
The rooms all have private bathroom, WiFi and TV.
In addition, outside, you can enjoy a garden with sea view also equipped with some sun loungers where you can relax and sunbathe.
The hotel also has a restaurant.
Villa Tanca Luxury Collection: qhis accommodation I suggest you if you are looking for a luxury accommodation equipped with every comfort.
Here you will have an entire apartment with 5 bedrooms and an equipped kitchen.
The apartment is located a few meters from the sea and is perfect for families with children also because it offers childcare and many other services.
The villa has a terrace and a garden with barbecue.
You can also order a buffet or American breakfast.
Hotel Marina: it is located in a very quiet alley, a few meters from the beach.
All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV and minibar and are furnished in a classic and elegant way.
The property has a pleasant garden where you can relax and have breakfast.
Hotel Locanda Il Maestrale: this small family-run hotel is housed in an ancient eighteenth-century building.
The hotel is very convenient because it is located near the train station and a few steps from Fegina beach.
HOTEL a MONTEROSSO
Before concluding this travel guide to Monterosso I want to recommend some of the better places to eat.
The village, in fact, is famous for its gastronomic tradition: you can easily eat someexcellent fresh fish and taste the good wine of the area, including the famous Sciacchetrà.
Among the dishes not to be missed I recommend the Monterosso Rice Cake, a typical dish that is prepared especially in August on the occasion of the Feast dedicated to the Madonna di Soviore. The cake is prepared with a pastry made of flour, wine and water dough and a filling of rice, eggs, oil, cheese and mushrooms.
Let's see some of the best restaurants in Monterosso.
Enoteca da Eliseo: a quiet place in the historic center of the village. This is the perfect place to taste the excellent wines of the area, perhaps with a platter of typical products for an aperitif.
Miky restaurant: this family-run restaurant is a guarantee if you want to eat excellent local fresh fish. Excellent spaghetti with seafood.
San Martino gastronomy: this historic place in the center of Monterosso is the perfect place for a quick and informal lunch. In addition to some excellent seafood dishes, here you can eat the classic trofie with pesto from Genoa.
Lemon Festival: a festival that includes, in addition to various tastings, also a rich program of walks, exhibitions and culinary competitions.
Feast of St. John the Baptist: held every year in the evening between 23 and 24 June. A large bonfire is set up on the beach, but the highlight of the evening is the fireworks display over the sea.
Fried anchovy festival: held every year on the third Saturday of June. Fried anchovies are served with a classic glass of local white wine.
Salted anchovy festival: every year on the third Saturday of September you can taste the famous salted anchovies of Monterosso which are offered in the numerous gastronomic stalls around the city.
Sciacchetrail: an event not to be missed, unfortunately canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but will resume in 2022. A "race" through the Cinque Terre to get to know it and learn its traditions!
There are three ATMs in Monterosso, one at the train station, and two in via Roma in the historic center. However, you won't have any problems paying directly with your credit card anywhere.
Spend some time in Monterosso and you will immediately notice the shuttles used to carry luggage of tourists from the train station to the hotel. I recommend that you ask at the place where you are staying how to use this service or, alternatively, go to the station information desk upon your arrival.
Although there is a wide range of restaurants, if you go in the summer or on the weekend book the restaurant in advance to avoid having to wait standing up for a table to become available.
In the new city they are located two small convenience stores but relatively well supplied towards the east side of the beach. In the historic center there are some grocery stores it's a philanderer largest along Via Roma.
I prices in the Cinque Terre they are higher than in other parts. My dispassionate advice is to go shopping or buy souvenirs in Levanto or La Spezia.
At the level of safety there is not much to worry about, but with so many tourists you may also find pickpockets, try not to leave your things unattended especially on the free beaches.
The Cinque Terre are certainly not the ideal place if you are looking for nightlife or the disco, but there are some nice places to spend the evening and often in Levanto there are some nice parties on the beach.