The Italian Riviera is bustling with tourists, and they are all in Cinque Terre – colourful villages atop steep cliffs where no cars dare venture. Life moves a little slower here. Locals carry their goods in hand drawn carts, fishermen go out to the sea for a fresh catch, and the lemon dressing from your plate is probably picked from the tree near the restaurant. These are the five villages, and they are beachy Monterosso, rugged Corniglia, beautiful Vernazza, traditional Manarola and calming Riomaggiore. Here, we seek out the taste of the Ligurian sea.
Look forward to: Fresh seafood and Ligurian pesto
Where: Via G. Guidoni, 42, 19018 Vernazza SP, Italy
What: Codfish ravioli with pesto
For: Romantic dining
Fresh seafood, homemade pesto and a view of the sea puts Ristorante Belforte on the top of everyone’s list. Ligurian recipes dominate the menu here. Ligurian pesto is the region’s most celebrated dish, and Belforte’s version has a creamy texture with a zesty lemon aftertaste. The Vernazza seafood salad is a mixture of steamed seafood topped with olive oil, lemon and parsley – the perfect antipasti to whet your appetite. Chances are that sea view seats are not guaranteed for walk-ins, so book in advance to get that spot by the sea.
Trattoria Locanda Il Porticciolo
Where: Via Renato Birolli, 92, 19017 Manarola di Riomaggiore SP, Italy
What: Roasted fish with vegetables
The casual Trattoria Locanda Il Porticciolo is hard to miss if you look out for the parked boats along Manarola’s main street. Local fish dishes are some of the restaurant’s top dishes. Dig into the pappardelle with swordfish, roasted fish with vegetables, and salted anchovies with peppers.
Where: Via Discovolo, 290, Manarola, Italy
Breakfast eggs can be hard to come by in Italy, as locals go for a pastry and a coffee to start their day. Aristide provides a good Italian alternative to the all American breakfast. Omelettes are made with stretchy Italian cheese and parma ham. For something sweet, there is always a crostata. If you’re staying in Manarola, make this place your pitstop for your morning pick-me-up en route to the train station.
Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre
Where: Via Gavino, 36, 19018 Vernazza SP, Italy
For: Sicilian cuisine
We may be all the way up north of Italy, but the Sicilian palate is not lost in Cinque Terre. Massimo and Gianluca are the Sicilian brothers who opened Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre, which became a breakfast favourite in Vernazza. As expected from Sicilian cuisine, desserts and pastries are the extraordinary items on the menu. It gets busy during breakfasts, and a meal there is incomplete without trying the cannoli with ricotta cheese.