The first thing that I was surprised to find out about Cinque Terre was that it wasn’t in France. My crackerjack French told me that cinque was French for “five” and terre was French for “lands” and that together one would pronounce the words as “Sawnk Tayr.”
My translation was right. Cinque Terre indeed means “Five Lands.” But my French only got partial credit; terre is French for “land,” but five in French is cinq not cinque.
Turns out Cinque Terre is Italian, with a radically different pronunciation (“CHEEN-qweh TEH-reh”) from the beret-donning Sawnk Tayr I’d first imagined. So yes, Cinque Terre is in Italy (but, in fairness to me, somewhat near France). Specifically, it’s about where you’d tie your shoelaces on the Italian boot.
Cinque Terre is a line of coast on the Italian Riviera consisting of 5 (five, cinque, cinq, cinco, fünf) breathtakingly cliff-hanging villages (click on the names for photos that show what the fuss is about): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola (above) and Riomaggiore.
The villages sit in a line on the Mediterranean coast and are linked by walking paths, hiking trails, train and ferry. The cliff-edge walking/hiking path linking Riomaggiore and Manarola—called “Lovers’ Walk,” or Via Dell’Amore in Italian—is the most famous of these intervillage links.
Cinque Terre is included on some EF Educational Tours itineraries to Italy, most extensively on the Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre tour.