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One of the most iconic days trips in Tuscany is the one that takes you from Florence to the Cinque Terre. This string of five glorious pastel-coloured villages clinging precariously to the rock faces of the cliffs that rise above the Adriatic Sea is a World renowned UNESCO Heritage site. Visitors flock here to hike the stunning cliffside path that links the villages, or to take a leisurely ride by boat or train between them to experience what each one has to offer. Of the five, Corniglia is perhaps the one least visited, which is a real shame as it is an interesting place, full of history and bursting with character. The Oldest of the Five Historians believe that Corniglia dates back to Roman times; several artefacts found in Pompeii have been linked back to the town. Terracotta pots inscribed with the words Gens Cornelia (from the Roman family Cornelia) tell the experts that the place was probably a colony of slaves, who took their names from the master who gave them their freedom. During the medieval era the area was mostly ruled by the Earls of Lavagna and then later by the FIeschi family. As you stroll the winding streets you will see that everything fans out from Via Fieschi. Places to See When you’re making the trip from Florence to Cinque Terre, you’re going to want to prioritize exactly how you spend your time. Corniglia definitely warrants an hour or two and has several attractions worth a visit. Lardarina The 370 steps that lead from the station up to the centre of the town are not for the faint hearted, but for those who do tackle the climb, stunning views are the reward. Don’t worry if 100ft of steps is not what you had in mind on a relaxing day trip, as you can always jump on the minibus that winds its way up the hairpin bends to the top instead. Church of St Peter A veritable fusion of Baroque, Gothic and Ligurian styles, this distinguishable building featuring a rose window made of the local Carrara marble is a pretty church in which to poke your head. Built to honour the town’s patron Saint, Peter, it is a focal point for annual religious celebrations. Saint Mary’s Terrace A delightful walk up from Via Fieschi, this terrace is an ideal spot if panoramic scenery is what you are after. The intensely blue sea below glistens in the brilliant sunshine, while to the left and right you get a sneaky peek to the neighbouring towns. Oratorio dei Disciplinati di Santa Caterina Constructed in the eighteenth century, the oratory is located in Piazzetta Largo Taragio. Its highlight is the interior ceiling that towers above the altar. Painted to look like the sky, it really is quite remarkable. Beaches Many people regard Corniglia as the one town with no beach, primarily because the centre is perched so high above sea level. There is, however, a beach down below, and despite being more secluded than those of the other towns, it is a stunning hideaway for a relaxing sunbathe. The trip from Florence to Cinque Terre takes less than two hours, so although it demands a whole day, it is definitely doable without a stopover. It is surprising, as long as you book with a reputable tour operator, how much of this stunning area you can cover in a day on a visit from Florence to Cinque Terre; you certainly get plenty of bang for your buck! Author Plate Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including day trips from Florence to Cinque Terre. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro’s company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you’re keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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