Monterosso al Mare trip planner

The Cinque Terre town of Monterosso al Mare

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www.parconazionale5terre.it

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Monterosso beach
Monterosso al Mare, home to the only sandy beach in the Cinque Terre. (Photo by Barbara Ann Weibel.)
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Monterosso is northernmost of the Cinque Terre, its largest village and the only town in the Cinque Terre with a proper, sandy beach—and a big parking lot for the commensurate crowds of Italians to take advantage of said beach and its ranks of beach chairs shaded by giant umbrellas (which you can rent for a small hourly fee).

Monterosso al Mare is actually two towns—a bustling, character-filled old town built behind the harbor, plus a more modern resort town that stretches along that beach and is home to the train station and the tiny regional tourist office. (Upon exiting the station, turn left and head through the tunnel for the old town; turn right for the newer town.)

Monterosso also sports a handful of proper sights. The best is the Convento dei Cappuccini, atop a tiny hill in the old town with a Crucifixion by Flemish master Anthony Van Dyck (who worked in nearby Genova for a while), but the aquarium (closed on and off in recent years) and a museum of anchovy salting (no, seriously) get more attention—possibly because they charge admission. Neither of them is terribly interesting, but if you have the spare time, entry is included on the Cinque Terre Card.

Monterosso may be the busiest of the Cinque Terre towns, with the most hotels, restaurants, and bustle, but calling it "busy" is a relative thing. The town remains little more than an oversized fishing village, with all the attendant charms.

Clothes drip dry from washing lines above the tourist office, the narrow streets are clad in stone, and in the evenings, as the sea gentle tumbles the shoreline's boulders, a cadre of the town's sun-raisined, wizened men colonize the bocce court wedged between the train tracks and the trail to pick up where they left off the night before in a game that has been going for generations. Hang around long enough, and they just might invite you to join in.

The 2011 floods in Monterosso

Sadly, flash floods on October 25, 2011, gravely damaged the Cinque Terre, doing considerable damage to the old town of Monterosso (and devastating nearby Vernazza).

The residents there are digging out from the mud and rebuilding, but it may be a while until Monterosso is back to its old self. As of early 2012, only the newer part of town is fully open. You can keep track of what is going on at www.rebuildmonterosso.com.

Rick Steves is rallying to the cause of the region he helped put on the tourism map, and you can find regular flood recovery updates (as well as links to local aid orignizations) in the "News" section of his site: www.ricksteves.com.

Best thing you can do: come and visit regardless. Most of the rest of the Cinque Terre is back up and running, and they really do need the support (and, frankly, your tourism dollars).

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Where to stay in Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso hotels

Note: Due to the flood, most of Monterosso's Old Town is still closed. Until the town finishes recovering and rebuilding, you'll have to stay in teh New Town or elsewhere in the Cinque Terre.

Monterosso rental rooms and apartments

Surprisingly, there aren't that many apartments in Monterosso—though Gaudio Grazia (Via Buranco 15, tel. +39-0187-817-485 or +39-338-809-8783) rents two basic flats, sleeping six people total, in an old house about five minutes from the beach; they cost €20–€40 per person.

There are about two dozen rooms to rent, B&Bs, and even an agriturimo listed at www.parconazionale5terre.it.

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in March 2011. All information was accurate at the time.

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