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Cinque Terre

The five most renowned maritime villages
in the worldwide touristic outlook

La Spezia’s west coast stretches from Deiva Marina, the westernmost town on the border with the province of Genoa, to Riomaggiore. This is an area of unparalleled beauty, whose people and their labour blend with nature; heavily focused on tourism, it has become an engine of economic development that marries the natural assets of the sea with the hills, offering a mix of environmental, historic and artistic attractions that guarantee a steady stream of visitors throughout the year.

A portion of the coast, specifically the area corresponding to the Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso), is part of the National Park and protected coastline of the same name. In 1997, the landscape was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its unique and majestic agricultural landscape.

This prestigious recognition was awarded, according to UNESCO, because the Cinque Terre landscape is classed as an “organically evolved landscape”, resulting from an initial driving force—whether social, economic, administrative and/or religious—and its current layout and character have been shaped by, and as a response to, the natural environment. The territory belongs to the sub-category of “living landscapes”, defined as one that “continues to play an active socio-economic role in the life of the community, retaining a close connection with traditional lifestyles, and whose evolutionary process is still on-going. The landscape reveals both the material circumstances that shape it, and their evolution over time.”


In the Cinque Terre area, agriculture is almost entirely practiced on narrow terraces supported by a continuous network of dry stone walls. It has been estimated that each hectare of terraced surface is supported by around 4,000 cubic meters of dry stone wall.

Built over centuries and requiring intensive labour, the terraces are essentially a single, continuous system that needs constant and careful maintenance work.

Shifting the agricultural focus slightly, one cannot forget the tourist and recreational appeal of the local woods, whose scenic and panoramic beauty attract ever-growing tourist numbers: here, the woods surround attractive agricultural land, and are crossed by a network of trails that offer breath-taking views.

The territory belonging to the Riviera is triangulated around Punta di Moneglia to the west, the Portovenere promontory to the east, and Monte San Nicolao.

The coast has a very distinctive morphology: towering cliffs overlook the sea and are interrupted by beaches formed either at the mouths of streams (Deiva, Bonassola, Levanto, Monterosso) or as a result of landslides originating from the hillsides (Corniglia Guvano).

The coastal area has two main traits: a series of small river valleys from Punta Moneglia to Punta Mesco, and hard-to-access cliffs overlooking the sea from Punta Mesco to Portovenere. The coast is mostly rocky, except in the vicinity of short and steep streams, where it becomes sandy (Levanto and Monterosso), or more commonly, has pebbles and silt.