Cinque Terre

This is the easiest blog I have written.  It was recently suggested that I blog about

my favorite place

In my head I quickly travelled to the Italian Riviera.  To a place called Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre or 'The Five Lands' is a string of seaside villages along the western coastline of Italy. Put yourself in Florence, then take a 2 hour train ride Northwest to the coast.

I visited Cinque Terre first in 2003 as a student during a study abroad trip and again in 2012 during our honeymoon.  In February, I wrote a blog titled Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Date an Architect.  In that blog I joked about architectural travels:

You are guaranteed to go on some great vacations. That assumes that you are ok forgoing exotic beaches and tropical locales for long walks through historic cities and treks to see famous buildings. They might even throw in a lunch break if you remind them. And as a bonus, at the end of your trip you will have hundreds of photographs and sketches......of buildings, without you and your family in them. Your architect will forever be in a constant search for inspiration and architectural enrichment.

Well...this blog is proof that I was half right in my summation of architectural vacations. Cinque Terre is a place of remarkable beauty where you get great architecture and the beach.

And I do take pictures of my family!


Hill Towns

Danielle didn't know that she would one day be a famous model for the BuildingsAreCool website.  That town in the background is Monterosso al Mare.  The Northernmost of the 5 lands, Monterosso is where I stayed on both of my trips.   

The town in the background is Monterosso al Mare

The Hikes

The 5 lands are connected by a series of hiking trails called the Sentiero Azzuro or Azure Trail.  It is approximately a 1-2 mile hike between each village.  Since the towns are located at the bottom of the hills, your hike to the next village will likely start on a:

Wonderful Ascent

The paths, alleys and streets are full of these wonderful steps.  The path turns rustic pretty quickly once you get outside the villages.  Slowly you work your way up and down the hillsides.  Everywhere you look there are:

Picturesque Views

Not bad right?

Eventually the next town will start to peek out between the trees.

The town below is Vernazza

The Descent

Almost there.

There is a wonderful sequence of spaces as you make your way up or down through the villages.  It is very dramatic.

The Town Square of Vernazza awaits.

The Towns

The architecture of the towns would not be described as remarkable.  The buildings themselves are quite plan.  But it is the assemblage of all these parts, which makes a wonderful space.  The buildings work together to form rooms.  Those rooms are streets, alleys and squares.  Or as the Italians call them, Piazzas.

Vernazza Town Square

People Own the Streets

Notice.  No cars.  Imagine what our cities could be?

Boats Own the Streets

Don't forget to look back.

As you make your way back up the trail towards the next town, you will look back over your shoulder and capture more breathtaking views of the town you just visited.

On our way to Corniglia looking back towards Vernazza.


Everywhere you look there is something astonishing.  I felt like I was in a place from a Fairytale.  

Neptune statue in Monterosso Al Mare.  

My beautiful bride with Manarola in the background.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi above Montorosso al Mare

Framed Views

Throughout the Five Lands I kept finding these wonderful framed views.

View atop Monterosso al Mare

Another view atop Monterosso a Mare

A portal at Monorosso al Mare.



Our 2012 visit occurred 6 months after the area was ravaged by torrential rains, floods and mudslides.  Vernazza and Monterosso had extensive damage.  In the photo below you can see workers repairing the street.  Notice how they have painted murals on the boarded up doors.  

Rebuilding of Vernazza

The Wildlife

The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola

I know.  We are so cute, right?


Thanks for joining us!


This article was written in contribution to the ongoing ArchiTalks Series.  For ArchiTalks #8, New York Architect Marica McKeel suggested the topic Favorite Place.  Be a pal and check out the Favorite Places of my Favorite Bloggers.

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture @businessofarch Where Do You Like To Go When You Aren't Working?
Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture @FiELD9arch Ruby Slippers
Marica McKeel - Studio MM @ArchitectMM Do You Have a Favorite Place?
Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect @LeeCalisti favorite place
Evan Troxel - Archispeak Podcast / TRXL @etroxel My Favorite Place
Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC @L2DesignLLC ArchiTalks meets #ThisOldHouse
Cormac Phalen - Cormac Phalen @archy_type Baltimore
Andrew Hawkins, AIA - Hawkins Architecture, Inc. @hawkinsarch My Favorite Placein the Wild
Jes Stafford - Modus Operandi Design @modarchitect Making Space and the Favorite Place
Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect @mghottel favorite place
Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC @MeghanaIRA Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Michael Riscica - Young Architect @YoungArchitxPDX MIT Chapel - My Favorite Place
Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect @bpaletz Favorite Place(s)
Tara Imani - Tara Imani Designs, LLC @Parthenon1 Favorite Place - Architalks 8
Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture @mondo_tiki_man Favorite Place
Eric Wittman - intern[life] @rico_w my [first] favorite place