Hike through vineyards and lemon trees in Italy’s Cinque Terre

From the top of a steep hillside covered in lemon trees and grapevines, the village of Manarola tumbles out below, like a handful of pink, orange and yellow blocks that have been shaken, then poured from a toy bag.

Manarola is one of five hamlets strewn a few miles apart along the Mediterranean coast in Northern Italy. Each comes with its own personality, and the best way to see the lot is to pick one as a home base, then spend a few days hiking between them, pausing to sip wine, eat grilled octopus and cool off with a swim in the sea.

Hike up through steep terraces covered with vineyards. Pause to admire a chapel and sip lemonade in the pint-size village of Volastra. Then descend into Corniglia, where you can revive yourself with gelato before striking out for the next town up the coast, Vernazza.

It’s easy to imagine the days when pirates sailed up and down this coast. The people who once lived here used stone watchtowers to defend their homes, which are perched on cliffs and tucked into nooks and crannies molded by Mother Nature. It’s long been a wine-producing region, and farmers planted crops on terraces they cut into the hills.

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