A sunrise view of Manarola from the Love Trail, probably the most picturesque among the five villages of the Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre, famous worldwide for their five medieval villages with small fishermen harbours, narrow cobblestone lanes, steep slopes with terraced grape vines and romantic trails, is a place of incomparable beauty.
Recognized in 1997 by the Unesco Mankind's World Heritage, the Cinque Terre and the hinterland are today a National Park and Protected Marine Area with the aim of preserving this great cultural heritage and natural environment.
But the Italian Riviera is far from being only the Five Lands. Many other towns and villages of the Ligurian coast are no less interesting. Just to name a few: Camogli with its Dragon's Castle a step away from the sea, the charming bay of Portofino, the colourful houses on the beach of Varigotti, Portovenere with its romanesque church clinging onto a promontory rising sheer from the sea.
The shoreline is where the three visual elements of our planet's surface, earth sea and sky, are all available at the same time. Capturing these elements at dawn or sunset, or under heavy weather conditions I believe is one of the most fulfilling experience for a landscape photographer.
Camogli is a beautiful small town of the Ligurian coast, one of the many medieval villages you can find along the coast between Genoa and La Spezia. Its main feature is certainly Dragon’s Castle (Castello del Dragone), a fortress with the annexed cathedral a step away from the sea. But also the busy fishermen's harbour and the line of colorful facades of the houses along the coast are very nice subjects to see and photograph.
Riomaggiore, the western-most village of the Cinque Terre, rises between two rugged cliffs that drops into the sea. The cliffs are impressive and even more impressive are the lines of tall and narrow houses built on them.
A wonderful medieval town placed on the edge of the Poet’s Gulf, between the Cinque Terre and the city of La Spezia. The tall and narrow houses, the Genoan castle, the Church of St. Peter built in 1198 and the amazing rocky coastline are the main features of this Portovenere.
Manarola, with its colourful fishermen's houses clinging onto the rugged cliffs and its tiny harbour, is probably the most pictoresque among the five villages. The reefs surrounding the harbour are the perfect location for photographing amazing crashing waves when the sea is rough.
Corniglia is placed on a flat-top cliff about 100 meters high. It’s the only village in the Cinque Terre that has not a direct access to the sea. Made of alleys and narrow lanes dug into the cliff itself, Corniglia also feature a beautiful beach, the “Spiaggione”, with big, very photogenic multi-coloured pebbles and boulders.
Vernazza is placed on another impressive, long and narrow cliff on a sheer drop onto the sea. Seen from the trail coming from Corniglia, the look of the cliff recalls the shape of a ship prow, and the whole town seems a ship ready to sail-off at sea. Founded in the 11th century, Vernazza developed through the centuries a strong marine tradition. The marina is a great location for strong minimalistic compositions.
The Love Trail
The famous "Via dell’Amore", a paved trail dug into the rocky cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea, starts in Riomaggiore and finishes in Corniglia. The path is wonderful and offers many excellent vantage points for photographing Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia and the coastline in between.
Sunrise and early morning
Sunrise and early morning: wake up about 30-40 minutes before dawn and with a ten minutes walk from the hotel we will get to a small, very nice beach of pebbles just southeast of Riomaggiore. We will shoot the sun rising from behind the cliffs at the shore with surf and crashing waves in the foreground, and we will also focus on the beautiful, multi-coloured pebbles at the beach, which are an ideal subject for some serious abstract and close up.
Example of a typical day in the field
Afternoon: Right after lunch we will take a walk on the Sentiero dell'Amore (Love Trail), the footpath from Riomaggiore to Manarola, and we will shoot the jagged coast and cliffs along the road. In the case the Sentiero is close for maintenance (as it sometimes happens in winter time) we will get to Manarola by train. We will spend the rest of the afternoon photographing at Manarola. Manarola, with its colourful fishermen's houses clinging onto the rugged cliffs and its tiny harbor, is probably the most pictoresque among the five villages.
Mid morning: we will get back to the village and we will focus on the many very interesting features of Riomaggiore, such as the small harbour with the cobalt blue fishermen's boats, the small lanes of the centre of the town and the tall buidings painted with bright colours, in the typical ligurian style.
Lunch: we will grab a quick lunch at some bar/trattoria in Riomaggiore.
We will wait for sunset at the reefs beneath the harbour. This is a wonderful spot for seascapes of great impact, with surf, crashing waves and beautiful whirls produced by the sea undertow.
A small town not far from Savona, established as a port by the Saracens in the middle age, features two wonderful sand beaches and it's well known for the colourful houses built directly on the shoreline.
Portofino is one of the most characteristic and exclusive locations not only in the Ligurian coast but in the entire Mediterranean sea.