Going on vacation to northern Italy in 2022? Do not miss the Cinque Terre park and its picturesque villages clinging to the cliffs. In this article, we’ve put together a list of the best things to visit in Vernazza, one of the most beautiful villages in the region and the country for you.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, the Cinque Terre National Park is a unique place in the world. It brings together five magnificent villages built on the side of a cliff along the Mediterranean Sea.
Coming from Genoa, you will first encounter Monterosso, then Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These fishing hamlets have remained authentic despite the number of tourists who come to discover their beauty each year. They are connected to each other by a train line, as well as by hiking trails. Each of the villages has its attractions, and here we describe the essentials to visit in Vernazza, one of the most beautiful and isolated.
Located at the bottom of the village and dominated by the church and the castle, the port of Vernazza welcomes the typical boats of the fishermen of the village. These colorful boats moored in the translucent waters of the Mediterranean represent one of the symbols of the Cinque Terre.
It is the only natural port of the Cinque Terre, which further reinforces the traditional side and facing the sea of Vernazza. At sunset, residents and tourists come to settle along the dike for a timeless moment and a magical spectacle.
2The Historic Center
The Via Roma , the main street of Vernazza, dating back to the heights of the village and the railway station from the port.It is a place bustling with souvenir shops, ice cream parlors , restaurants, villas and vacation apartments for rent that provide the most comfort to its customers.
Sit on the terrace to enjoy a dish of fish or Genovese pesto . On either side of the main axis, narrow passageways and steep staircases allow you to sink into the maze of alleys of Vernazza.
Around every corner, you will discover a charming little square, a green garden or a new point of view over the village during your visit to Vernazza. Have fun finding the old presses, vestiges of the region’s wine-growing activity.
3The Sandy Beach
The sandy beach of Vernazza is located very close to the port, near the main square and overlooked by the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia. If places are expensive in the high season, it remains a quiet place to put your towel for a good relaxing session .
The setting is enchanting, with a view of the fishing boats, the Doria castle and the church. The clear water invites you to bathe and allows you to cool off after hiking in the region or your wanderings in the steep alleys of the village.
4The Pebble Beach
Largest beach in Vernazza, it is located on the other side of the castle from the port. To reach it, you will have to take Via Roma and then turn halfway and enter a cave.
Once through the tunnel, you arrive on a beautiful pebble beach with a breathtaking view of the cliffs that line the coast. This well-hidden place allows you to relax, away from the hustle and bustle of the village. Bordered by translucent and calm waters, it is perfect for a few fathoms.
5The Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia
Main monument of the city, its precise date of construction is not known but dates back to the 12th century. This religious building is dedicated to Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, the patron saint of the village. According to legend, a box containing the fingers of the Saint was found on the shore and the inhabitants decided to erect a church in her honor at the precise location of the discovery.
The building is topped by an octagonal tower 40 meters high, located in the side apse rather than on the facade. This architectural peculiarity combined with the white color of the building which contrasts with the colorful houses of the surroundings make the church a unique and unmissable monument to visit in Vernazza. Every year, the feast of Santa Margherita takes place on July 20 , with processions, shows and fireworks.
6The Convent of the Reformed Fathers Minor of St. Francis
This convent, nestled on the heights within the city walls, was part of the defensive system of Vernazza. It consists of a tower which once allowed a watch, a cloister and a desecrated church. Today it is the seat of the town hall of Vernazza. During its recent renovation, 14 marble tombs adorned with Latin inscriptions have been uncovered.
7Château Doria and the Belforte tower
The Doria castle, topped by the Belforte tower, is one of the must-see monuments to visit in Vernazza. It is located on a rocky promontory at the end of the village, and overlooks the port and the two beaches.
Its irregular architecture follows the rocky ridge on which it is located, giving it a unique appearance. It was originally used to defend the village against Saracen incursions. It is one of the oldest buildings in Vernazza since it was erected in the 11th century.
Today, it constitutes an impregnable point of view on the sea, the port and the village. It is one of the symbols of Vernazza that can be easily seen from the heights of the village and the hiking trails.
8The Church of San Francesco
This deconsecrated church, built in the 12th century, fits harmoniously into the heart of the colorful houses of Vernazza. Today it hosts various musical and theatrical events, such as a classical opera festival, as well as temporary exhibitions.
9The sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio
The sanctuary is located on the heights of the village, where the first settlement of Vernazza is said to have been built. You will reach it after a short hike from the train station, or by taking the hiking trail between Vernazza and Monterosso.
The church is dedicated to the Black Madonna, who can be seen inside the building. Around the building you can sit in the shade of ancient trees on comfortable benches and observe the panoramic view of the sea.
Small tip, a room with drinks and food is behind the church. You will only have to make a donation and help yourself before continuing your journey. On the way back down, be sure to stop at the charming, perfectly maintained little cemetery.
10San Bernardino and the sanctuary of Nostra Signora delle Grazie
San Bernardino dominates the Cinque Terre National Park and offers magnificent views of Corniglia and Vernazza. From the station, a path will take you 3 kilometers to the village, but you can also access it by car. Be careful, the hike is quite difficult because the place is almost 400 meters above sea level, but the landscapes are worth the detour.