Among the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza is the most characteristic, best known and most visited of all. There is no real ranking and each village is a story in itself. But this Village of Liguria is undoubtedly a place to visit at least once in a lifetime.

Among the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza is the only one to be counted among the “most beautiful villages in Italy” in the company of many other wonderful places in Liguria. In the same way, when we talk about Italy at an international level, Vernazza is often mentioned among the wonders not to be missed during a trip to the Bel Paese.

Vernazza

The life of this seaside resort gathers around the elegant square near the marina and via Roma, the only real main street that connects the railway station. All around a confused series of alleys and alleys typical of the villages of Liguria that hide details to be photographed as well as a charm and a millenary history.

The unmistakable pastel-colored tower-houses of this portion of Liguria frame the famous port of Vernazza, the church and the fortified castle.

What to see in Vernazza

In Vernazza, more than a list of monuments and museums to visit, you have to enjoy the charm of this village from the first minute. The following is a list of ideas to make a complete visit while discovering the most characteristic views, details and everything that makes Vernazza a small jewel on the Mediterranean.

Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia

Chiesa di Santa Margherita di Antiochia Vernazza

The Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia is one of the main attractions of Vernazza, a charming village in the Cinque Terre. Built in the 13th century, this Gothic church rises majestically above the sea, dominating the small harbor and the town’s historic center.

The exterior of the church has a single facade with three orders of hanging arches and a large central rose, a characteristic element of the Gothic style. The octagonal bell tower, which rises next to the church, is another distinctive feature of the building and contributes to the charm of the entire architectural complex.

Inside, the cross-vaulted nave and side columns create a sober and elegant environment typical of the Ligurian Gothic style. Among the works of art preserved in the church is a splendid 17th-century canvas depicting the Deposition, attributed to Genoese painter Giovanni Battista Casoni.

St. Margaret of Antioch is dedicated to the saint of the same name, considered the patron saint of Vernazza. According to legend, St. Margaret’s body was thrown into the sea by her persecutors, but an eagle would later carry it to Vernazza beach. In honor of this miraculous event, the feast of the saint is celebrated every July 20 with a striking candlelight procession along the narrow streets of the village to the sea, where a special ceremony symbolizes the legend.

Doria Castle

Torre-di-Vernazza-nel-Castello-Doria

The Doria Castle is an ancient fortress located in the picturesque village of Vernazza. This historic building stands on a rocky promontory directly overlooking the Ligurian Sea, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the village and the sea.

The castle dates back to the 11th century and is considered one of the oldest military structures in the Cinque Terre. It was built by the Doria family, a powerful Genoese family, for the purpose of defending the village from pirate attacks. Over time, the castle underwent numerous transformations and expansions, becoming an emblematic symbol of Vernazza.

One of the most impressive features of Doria Castle is its circular tower, or donjon. This perfectly preserved structure stands out in the sky and offers a unique perspective on the village and the sea. Climbing to the top of the tower, one can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view encompassing the entire landscape of the Cinque Terre.

In addition to the tower, the castle also includes several bastions and an inner courtyard. Although the fortress has lost its original defensive function, Doria Castle still retains a fascinating atmosphere and sense of mystery that recall the ancient history of this place.

Since 1979, the castle has become an open-air museum and hosts occasional cultural events. A visit to the Doria Castle is a must for anyone visiting Vernazza. There is nothing more impressive than watching the sunset from the highest point of the village, with the panorama of the Ligurian Sea stretching to the horizon.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Reggio

Santuario di Nostra Signora di Regio

The Shrine of Our Lady of Reggio is a place of prayer and reflection located in the upper part of the village. This ancient church, hidden among the green hills above the village, is a place of quiet and peace, far from the tourist hustle and bustle.

The history of the shrine dates back to the 14th century, although it is said that a place of worship already existed on the present site in 1000 AD. The present church is a simple but charming building with a rectangular nave and semicircular chancel, following the typical lines of Romanesque architecture.

The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Reggio, a revered Madonna who is believed to have performed numerous miracles. Inside, the main altar houses a wooden statue of Our Lady, dating back to the 15th century, which has been the object of many pilgrimages over the centuries.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Reggio is not only a place of worship, but also a landmark for those who enjoy nature walks. To reach the shrine, in fact, it is necessary to undertake a walk of about an hour along an ancient path known as “the pilgrim’s road.” The path, dotted with cypress and olive trees, offers spectacular views of the village and the sea, making the walk a rewarding experience in itself.

Once at the shrine, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Cinque Terre and the Ligurian Sea.

Convent of the Reformed Fathers of San Francesco

The Convent of the Reformed Fathers of St. Francis, located in Vernazza in Cinque Terre, has an intriguing history as well as considerable historical value. Inside, the complex includes a deconsecrated church and a quiet cloister, but one of its most distinctive elements is undoubtedly its ancient tower.

This tower is not only an architectural evidence of the structure; it is also one of the valuable remaining traces of the city’s defensive system. In ancient times, the city’s location on the Ligurian coast made it vulnerable to attack by pirates by sea. To defend itself, the city was walled and armed with numerous watchtowers that served to sound the alarm in case of impending attacks. Today, the convent tower is one of the few of these surviving defensive outposts-a tangible link to the city’s warlike past.

The tower stands in the company of two other important historical buildings: the castle and the Belforte Tower, both important parts of the original defense system. In addition to these, there is another tower from the 11th century, allowing visitors to get a clear view of what the fortification of the city looked like in ancient times.

Despite its strong ties to the past, the Convent of the Reformed Fathers of St. Francis plays a key role in the city’s present. Currently, the convent site houses Vernazza’s town hall, serving as the hub of the town’s civic life.

Piazzetta del porto

piazza-vernazza

The Piazzetta del Porto is one of the most characteristic and lively places in Vernazza, a small village set in the wonderful framework of the Cinque Terre. This charming square sits right on the water’s edge, offering breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea and the colorful historic buildings that characterize the village.

The square, with its cobblestone pavement and pastel-hued buildings facing the sea, immediately evokes the authentic atmosphere of the Cinque Terre. Lively by day and often late into the night, the Piazzetta del Porto is the beating heart of city life.

A gathering place for residents and tourists alike, it is home to several bars, restaurants and stores, as well as a starting point for boat trips. On summer evenings, the square becomes a natural stage for concerts, performances and parties.

One of the most beautiful features of the Piazzetta del Porto is the presence of small colorful fishing boats, which create a dynamic contrast with the blue water of the sea. These vessels hark back to the seafaring tradition of Vernazza and the Cinque Terre in general.

From the square, there is a privileged view of Vernazza’s iconic tower, erected to defend the village in medieval times. But it is around sunset that the Piazzetta del Porto shows itself in all its beauty, when the warm lights of the dusk sun color the buildings and water with pinkish and orange hues.

Places around

Here are some places around Vernazza that could make your stay a truly complete visit.

Corniglia

Corniglia is the only village in the Cinque Terre that does not directly overlook the sea, but instead stands on a promontory about 100 meters high, surrounded by terraced vineyards. This elevated location offers breathtaking views of the Ligurian coast. Despite the lack of a port, Corniglia retains its authentic character as a small fishing village. The village is famous for its large central square, Largo Taragio, and the Church of St. Peter, a beautiful example of Gothic-Ligurian architecture.

More information about Corniglia

Other fractions

Drignana

Drignana is a small hamlet located inland from Vernazza. The path leading to Drignana is an authentic rural experience, among olive terraces and vineyards. The landscape is dominated by 15th-century stone houses and enchanting views of the valley.
Wall
Muro is located east of Vernazza, on a hill that offers picturesque views of the Mediterranean. From Muro, you can walk to some of the most beautiful hidden beaches in the region. The quiet village is dotted with stone houses of medieval origins.
Prevo
Prevo is the highest hamlet in the Cinque Terre and is located halfway along the path between Vernazza and Corniglia. Prevo is famous for its terraced olive groves and spectacular panoramic views of the Ligurian coast.
San Bernardino
San Bernardino stands on a ridge between Vernazza and Corniglia, and offers breathtaking views of the bay below. This small village is known for its church with a blue and white ceramic bell tower. The place makes an ideal stop for some relaxation while hiking the Cinque Terre trails.

Vernazza beaches

Spiaggia-di-Riomaggiore

The beaches of Vernazza, set in the magnificent scenery of the Cinque Terre in Italy, offer a unique charm.

Although small in size and mostly rocky, these beaches are a real treasure.

Vernazza Beach, located in the heart of the town, is a small inlet that offers a picturesque setting with its colorful buildings reflected in the crystal clear waters.

A short walk from the historic center is the natural harbor, with a small sandy beach, ideal for families with children. Here, you can sunbathe on the rocks around the harbor or near St. Margaret’s Church.

Although not sandy beaches with ample space and many bathing facilities, Vernazza’s beaches offer breathtaking views and an authentic Mediterranean atmosphere.

Whether you want to take a refreshing swim, sunbathe or simply watch the sunset, Vernazza’s beaches know how to enchant every visitor.

Where sleeping in Vernazza

Vernazza is probably the most popular destination in the Cinque Terre and, like the other villages, it is very small. Over the years, the variety of solutions for staying in this magnificent Borgo has expanded. However, there is no comparison with the large tourist resorts of the rest of Liguria.

Therefore, it is best to plan your stay a little in advance by booking as early as possible. In this way it will be possible to choose the ideal solution for your trip, be it a hotel, an apartment or a B&B.

The village offers a couple of mid-range hotels and many small guest houses, apartments and B & Bs scattered throughout the historic center near the marina.

Checking the map and the location of your accommodation is not necessary: all accommodation is very close to each other. The quality / price ratio of the structures in Vernazza is quite good even if it cannot be said that it is low-cost.



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How to get to Vernazza

Vernazza is easily accessible and the train is undoubtedly the most comfortable, fastest and cheapest way. Vernazza station is on the Genoa-La Spezia line and trains run practically every 20 minutes, especially during the summer season.

From the station, go all the way down via Roma to reach the lower part of the village, the port area.

Using the car to reach Vernazza could be a bit more complicated than in the other places in the Cinque Terre, both due to a limited number of parking lots located about 1km from the center, and due to traffic, which could be intense during the summer.
That said, the route is still simple: from the A12 highway, exit at Santo Stefano di Magra and follow the signs for La Spezia, then Cinque Terre, Portovenere, and finally join the provincial road to Vernazza.

Vernazza, like the other villages of the Cinque Terre except for Corniglia , can be reached by boat. A fun and suggestive option to admire the coast and the country with a breathtaking viewpoint. It is certainly the slowest and most expensive way to get there but the journey, on a calm day, is definitely worth the cost of the ticket.
Boats connecting Vernazza and the Cinque Terre, operating from April 1 to November 1, depart from La Spezia, Portovenere, Manarola, Levanto, and Portofino.

Vernazza photographs

ACCOMMODATION A VERNAZZA
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