In my previous article I talked about the best time to come to Cinque Terre and despite the huge amount of people, I would always suggest to come in Summer and in Spring to enjoy more the lively atmosphere of the village but if you happen to be around Cinque Terre in Winter, you can always come and have a look. It is very peaceful here and perfect for a one day trip from Genoa or Pisa.
I had the chance to visit Monterosso last February and I must say it was a perfect day to hike. It was very warm and sunny and not many people were around so even better if you want to train your photography skills. But what to do in Monterosso, a half deserted town, in the cold month of February? Well, read my article and you will find it out…
Some Information About Monterosso
Where is Monterosso? Monterosso al Mare, roughly translated as “Red Mount near the sea”, is the fifth and the last village of Cinque Terre, an area in the western part of Liguria. Monterosso is characterised for its long and sandy beaches, rather unusual for a village of Cinque Terre; almost all the beaches here are rocky and not very big.
The first settlement in the area, called Albareto, dates to 643 and was located just near the nowadays village of Monterosso. It was, then, destroyed by the Longobards; in 1000 the attacks of Saracens, the feared pirates of Mediterrenean, stopped thus it gave birth to a strong migration from the hinterland to the coasts giving birth to the actual village. Afterwards the territory of Monterosso, like many other places in La Spezia‘s province, was disputed between Genoa’s Republic and Pisa.
Monterosso is the biggest among the cinque terre towns and is divided into two parts: Fegina, which is the newer part and where the train station is located, and the oldest part, where you can come across picturesque alleyways and old churches. There is a bus service that operates between the two parts but I suggest you to go by foot as you can enjoy the lovely sea promenade.
Photoshooting At The Beach
As I said, Monterosso does not lack of beaches and I sometimes think that beaches in winter are even better than in summer. Unlike what happens during the hot season, in winter beaches are much less crowded and you are free to have a nice stroll on the beach listening the waves crashing against the rocks and sand. It is very relaxing just even to sit down and enjoy the sound of the waves coming forth and back.
Do not just stop at the main beach located out of the train station but go to the right side of the town, which is Fegina, the newer part. There you can find other sandy beaches where there are even less people compared to the main one. There we had some photo shootings and of course, we tried to grasp the beauty of the place with our photos. In winter it is really good to come here and take some photos as the place is half deserted and the nature gives its best.
At the end of the beach you can spot a big statue that is represented in the act of sustaining something. Monterosso inhabitants surname it “The Giant“. It was part of the Villa Pastine and it is supposed to portrait Neptune, the Greek/Roman God of the sea. Unfortunately the Villa was half destroyed due to the 2nd world war’s bombings. La Spezia and all the neighboring villages were subjected to the terrible bombings of both Americans and Germans during the war because it was, and still is, a military port and located in a strategic position.
Enjoying Sunset At The Top Of Monterosso
This is my favourite spot in Monterosso and it is very well hidden, hard to find if you do not explore the town deeply. You must climb a narrow path located behind the yellow house and reach the top. Along the way you will be surprised at how beautiful the view is up there, it is like you are atop of the world. You can see the long beach and the imposing big rock located in front of it.
On the way you encounter Torre Aurora (Aurora Tower) a defensive location built when Monterosso was under Genoan republic rule and it was mainly used to stop the attacks of the pirates. This place is really magic especially when the sun sets down and the sky is painted in a scarlet red. There is also the statue of San Francis from Assisi.
Why you wonder? Well, just above there is the Capuchin Monastery dedicated to him. I must say friars really chose the perfect place where to build the monastery: the view is breathtaking and is far away from everything but still quite near Monterosso town.
Have A Stroll Around Monterosso’s Old Town
But do not think of Monterosso as a too modern place, yeah it is more modern and bigger compared to other Cinque Terre, which are more picturesque and have pastel-like houses perched on the rock, but even here there are very picturesque corners, that is to say the oldest part. It is even better to visit during winter as the crowds of people are almost non-existent and you can see better the lovely corners of this underrated Cinque Terre town.
As many other Ligurian villages, the historical centre is made up of crumbling narrow alleyways that creates a very peculiar atmosphere, as if you went back to the past. By wandering around you will find many sea food restaurants and some churches.
The main cathedral, called Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist‘s church) and the small but creepy oratory – Oratorio della Morte e Orazione/Death and Oration’s Oratory – just like the name points out. I guess it was surnamed like this because there are death symbols everywhere.
How To Reach:
- From Riomaggiore to Monterosso: As I said in my article Cinque Terre Tips, the best way to visit the Cinque Terre is taking the train. From Riomaggiore to Monterosso is just five minutes. The price of the ticket is something like 5 euros.
- From La Spezia to Monterosso: Same for those who are staying in La Spezia, they just need to go to the train station and buy a ticket for Monterosso. It is just five minutes more than going from Riomaggiore and the price is more or less the same.
- From Genoa to Monterosso: For Genoa it is still possible to take train but the journey will be longer. Instead of 10 or five minutes, it will be something like one hour.