My parents made a super decision last winter and rented a flat on airbnb in Santa Margherita for this September. Since there was enough space for all of us, Mark and I went to visit them last week. It was our second time there as our first trip abroad as a couple two years ago was to this cute little beach town. In my opinion, Santa Margherita is the prettiest town in Liguria and if you’re curious about it, you can read about it more in my “A beauty in the Italian riviera” post.
As we have all been to Santa Margherita before, we took this opportunity to visit other places around like Lucca and Cinque Terre. In this post, I’m going to tell you about our trip to Monterosso Al Mare, one of the Cinque Terre villages.
We drove from Santa Margherita to Monterosso and it took just over an hour. Once we exited the highway, a very windy road was waiting for us but the good news is we could drive to the seaside, where there was a large car park. By the way, along the way there is also a sign for “Monterosso” but you should keep following the “Monterosso Al Mare” sign. If you don’t want to drive or didn’t rent a car, it is also possible to take the train from SM to Monterosso.
Monterosso means Red Mountain in Italian. I read somewhere that the name comes from a family with red hair that used to rule the village but I’m not sure whether it is true. Monterosso is the largest one of the Cinque Terre villages and easiest to visit and also swim. It has a very long beach with side by side orange and blue coloured umbrellas and deck chairs. What I like about Italian beaches is that they separate each beach with umbrellas and deck chairs in different colours. It makes such a nice view. If you have watched the movie “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, you’ll understand what I mean. The movie was filmed in San Remo but it has the same air about it.
If you make some research regarding Monterosso Al Mare, the word you will most come across is “Il Gigante”. It’s a huge concrete statute of Neptune (the Sea God) built in the early 1900s, which became the symbol of the town. It was unfortunately damaged a lot during World War II bombings and sea storms.
There are many cafes and restaurants overlooking the sea and a promenade where you can walk without being disturbed by the traffic and take photographs of the beautiful beach. We all had an espresso in one of the cafes before exploring this little town. Summerhouses covered by bougainvillaea were so charming; we couldn’t stop imagining what it would be like to have a summerhouse there.
There are actually two parts of this town, the old one and the new one. The seaside is the new town and you can go to the old town by walking through the underground tunnel. The old town looks like any other small village in this area with pastel coloured buildings, cute little shops and restaurants.
After Monterosso we took the train to go to Vernazza and Manarola. The easiest way to visit all five villages of Cinque Terre is by train that comes and goes back and forth. I’m going to write a separate post for other Cinque Terre villages.