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Exploring Cinque Terre, Italy

June 15, 2023 by Marie Joabar

We’ve just concluded our CINQUE TERRE, ITALY PHOTO WORKSHOP and it is truly a spectacular area that we will definitely be going to again.

Cinque Terre is a coastal region north of Pisa and south of Genoa. The name translates to Five Lands and stands for the 5 villages. All feature colorful buildings built on the mountainside, terraced vineyards, olive trees sprinkled about, busy harbors, and the locals are friendly and welcoming. From the restaurants, to the cafes, markets, shops and the beaches, we had fun exploring each of these towns.

From a photography point of view, we found stunning vistas, beautiful turquoise water, sunbathers and swimmers, quaint storefronts, historic churches, cemeteries, statues, and the list goes on.

Catching a sunrise or sunset wasn’t an option due to the mountains blocking it at this time of year but there were plenty of other incredible photo ops to enjoy. The 6 hour time difference would have made sunrise shooting difficult so it was a blessing in disguise that it wasn't an option. 

Traveling between each town is done on the regional train, very similar to the DC area Metro system. It’s super easy to use and we were surprised to find they even had restrooms on the trains! A passenger ferry also connects the towns and is a must see. Viewing the villages from the water offered a unique perspective.

For the hiking enthusiast, there are many trails in the area and these also connect the towns. Just note that many are strenuous as you are going up, up, up, and then down as you cross the mountains in between.  

Taking the paths in each town up to higher vantage points was well worth the spectacular views and a great alternative to the longer strenuous trails. 

MONTEROSSO was our home base and it was super easy to get the lay of the land and explore all it had to offer. Great little food markets, many gift shops, amazing restaurants, endless beaches and so much more, this town really had it all. 

The Buranco Winery in Monterosso not only offers incredible wine and delicious food, the setting is gorgeous and offers so much to photograph, we enjoyed a great lunch there on our last day.

In VERNAZZA, we climbed up to capture the view of the front of the village as well as the path up the back side for a totally different perspective. In fact, we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant on a cliff overlooking the village and harbor. How special is that?!

We took a leisurely stroll from the train station up to the town photographing tiny details, beautiful flowers, and a few cats along the way, before reaching the town proper.

The Wine Trail in MANAROLA offered gorgeous views over the town and sea and we spent a beautiful morning capturing it.

The harbor area in RIOMAGGORIE is hopping but further into the charming town area are lovey shops and restaurants and life moves at a slower pace. 

The weather was perfect (in the 70s each day). A few sprinkles 1 day but they quicky passed out to sea.

We practiced bracketing, so we could capture the details in both the shadows and the highlights, had fun with some slow shutters and camera movement, played with black and white for some scenes, and had a few opportunities for night photography as well.

Getting stronger with their cameras, exposure settings, and developing a stronger eye for composition were a few things that everyone commented was beneficial to them.

The workshop was in partnership with Il Chiostro, which offers workshops in cooking, painting, writing and some in photography. We had a wonderful guide, Enrico, helping us over the hurdles of reservations, transportation and other logistics as well as sharing his knowledge of the Italian customs and culture with us. He quickly became a friend to us all and truly enriched our experience.

We'll definitely be doing this magical trip again in the future. 

See our photos on our Cinque Terre Student Showcase