Of all the Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso is the first you will meet if you come from Genoa and the last one from La Spezia. In short, the one to the west.
Of all five it is certainly the most accessible country, because it is surrounded by a sweeter and easily accessible territory. For those unfamiliar with the Cinque Terre, an excellent idea could be to take advantage of Monterosso as a strategic starting point to discover the other villages. Or, maybe, leave it for last to enjoy a few days of tanning and relaxing holidays on the beach.
Precisely this simplicity of access has made Monterosso the most populous town in the Cinque Terre and also the one with a wider range of clubs, bars and restaurants.
Some consider it the liveliest and most renowned of the five. Surely the writer Eugenio Montale, who spent his childhood and many summers of his life here, wanted to celebrate the beauty of Monterosso’s nature in many of his works.
But how is Monterosso made?
Monterosso is made up of an ancient part and a more modern part, connected together by a tunnel. Along the coast of the new part there is a beautiful and very popular sandy beach, the beach of Fegina.
Then of course the colorful tower-houses, the alleys, the views and the luxuriant nature make Monterosso a fascinating village that deserves a visit at least once in a lifetime.
What to see in Monterosso
Although in Monterosso the beach life is very pleasant and dinner in a restaurant by the sea is absolutely unmissable, it is worth spending half a day discovering the historic center, among the alleys, discovering authentic views and the most interesting monuments.
Church of San Giovanni Battista
The church of San Giovanni Battista, was built starting from the middle of the thirteenth century, and is in Genoese Gothic style. The façade has the characteristic colors of white and dark stripes (green serpentinite), with a remarkable central openwork rose window, probably the work of Tuscan artists.
The bell tower was a Genoese watchtower, adapted to the new needs. However, what can be seen today is a reconstruction.
Adjacent to the church is the baroque oratory Mortis et Orationis, seat of the Confraternity of the Blacks, which preserves a valuable 16th century wooden statue depicting Sant’Antonio Abate.
The Statue of the Giant
The long and sandy beach of Fegina, divided in two by a large car park, is closed in the western part by the curious statue of the Giant. It was built in the early twentieth century by the sculptor Arrigo Minerbi and the architect Rolando Levacher, commissioned by Giovanni Pastine, an emigrant who had made his fortune in Argentina. The statue, 14 meters high, damaged first by bombing and then by storm surges and awaiting restoration, represents Neptune, holding a trident in one hand, while in the other he was holding up a large shell-shaped terrace.
Semaforo di Punta Mesco
A walk of about an hour leads to the “traffic light” of Punta Mesco, a lighthouse now abandoned, from where you can enjoy a priceless view. Nearby are the remains of the hermitage of Sant’Antonio, a medieval complex (but the church and hermitage could be older) abandoned at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
The Castle and Torre Aurora
The Castle and Torre Aurora are part of the fortifications built to defend Monterosso from Pisan and Saracen attacks. Torre Aurora, overlooking the sea, was called “tower with battery”. The castle, on the heights, still retains the Ghibelline battlements and the remains of the citadel.
Convent of the Capuchin friars
On the hill there is also the Capuchin convent, built in the 17th century. Monterosso has always been closely linked to its monastic community, starting from 1593, when the first Capuchin arrived from Genoa. The monk managed to reconcile the various factions of the town, and the monterossini repaid themselves by contributing to the construction of the convent. The church houses some art treasures, including a Crucifixion by Antoon van Dyck and a San Gerolamo attributed to Luca Cambiaso.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Soviore
The Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Soviore is about four kilometers from Monterosso, about 400 meters above sea level and is very impressive. You can easily get there by car but the path, on foot, is much more seductive.
Among the surviving villas there is the “yellowish pagoda”, the one where Eugenio Montale, the future Nobel Prize for literature, who came here on vacation since childhood, stayed. Since 2015 there has been a literary park dedicated to the great poet: for now it is more virtual than real, but from time to time it is possible to follow the organized excursions to find the passage of Montale, to intuit the corners and views that inspired him, to listen the readings of his verses.
Beaches are known to represent a bit of the Achilles’ heel of the Cinque Terre, which are generally few and quite small.
However, this is not the case in Monterosso where, instead, the beach of Fegina is one of the most popular attractions, even mentioned by the magazine “Forbes” as one of the 25 sexiest beaches in the world.
From the train station it is a moment to reach it by going down a comfortable staircase. From there there is a spacious sandy beach which is partly free and partly served by some bathing establishments. It is certainly the best family beach in the Cinque Terre.
At the end of the promenade there is the tunnel that leads to the old part of the Borgo. On the other side of the tunnel is Monterosso’s second beautiful beach, nestled between the port and the railway.
The beaches end where the walk towards Manarola begins, the famous “ Blue Path “, which then between Manarola and Riomaggiore is known as the” Via dell’Amore.
Where to sleep in Monterosso
In Monterosso you will find the widest choice of accommodation options including apartments, B & Bs and some mid-range hotels.
You can choose between the Fegina area, for those who intend to spend a lot of time on the beach, or the historic center area which has a much more romantic atmosphere.
In Monterosso there are solutions for all budgets, from the hotel overlooking the sea, to the charming residence in the hills, to the small apartment between the alleys.
As in all Cinque Terre the prices for accommodation are not cheap and the solutions with the best value for money are snapped up. Here, too, the advice is to plan your holiday in time and book as soon as possible!
How to get to Monterosso
As with all Cinque Terre villages, the most convenient and economical way to reach Monterosso is by train. Monterosso station is located in the new part of the city and is on the Genoa-La Spezia line where trains run practically every 20 minutes, especially during the summer season where the trains of the 5Terre Express line also take service. From the station you can reach the center of Monterosso in about 10 minutes on foot or by city bus which runs quite often.
If you opt for the car to get to Monterosso, the best way is to take the A12 motorway, exit at Carrodano and follow for Levanto. Once there continue following the signs for Monterosso.
This route is different from the Cinque Terre provincial coastal road that you take to reach the other villages. Even if it is slightly longer, you will avoid demanding curves and complicated points to go through.
There are not many car parks in Monterosso but they are in the center. The best are the Loreto car park, in the historical part and the Fegina car park in the modern part, both for a fee 24 hours a day.
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