Riomaggiore is one of the five little fishing villages in the Cinque Terre. This town of 2,000 residents has become a popular tourist destination in recent years due to its picturesque coastline of colorful buildings built on the gently sloping hill that falls right into the ocean.
Riomaggiore has one main street, Via Colombo, where all the restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and tourist shops are located. Cars are prohibited in the town and must park above the town (except for vehicles with special permits). This creates an excellent atmosphere for walking the main street and enjoying the uniqueness of the town. Because of this, train is the best way to enter Riomaggiore. It’s the first stop of the Cinque Terre.
At the bottom of the main street is the marina – you must walk under the train to get to the coast. Here, you will find restaurants and jetties that you can sit outside on and enjoy the sun and waves crashing. It’s the perfect spot for a beach lover such as myself! Even though there is no beach, the rocky coast is a beautiful place to lay out and take the sun. You can also rent paddle boats (which come with a motor) if the water isn’t too rough.
All of the villages in the Cinque Terre are connected by a footpath called the Via dell’Amore, located above the train tracks along the edge of the mountain. The Path of Love is high above the water and allows for amazing pictures and views of the coast. There are benches to sit and read or take the sun and overlooks to just admire the scenery. Also on the Path of Love is a chain link fence where people have taken to adding padlocks to declare their love.
There’s a story behind the Via dell’Amore. The towns of the Cinque Terre were extremely isolated from each other until the last century because of the mountains and ocean, and most of the people didn’t date outside their little town. After a train line was added in the 1920s, a path was made as well connecting the first two towns, Riomaggiore and Manarola. However, persistent landslides kept closing the path. After World War II, the path was finally cleared and became a meeting point for boys and girls from the neighboring towns. The trail was nicknamed the Path of Love. Closing the padlock with your sweetheart on the fence on the Path of Love is symbolic of unbreakable love.
On a clear day, you will see a beautiful sunset over the ocean. There are plenty of spots to watch the sunset: one of the two restaurants in the marina, the landing just opposite the restaurants at the bottom of the marina, the jetty a little further down, or the Via dell’Amore. Anywhere along the edge of the mountain will give you fantastic views as the sky is painted in all the colors of the rainbow and finally the sun sinks into the waves. Even the seagulls hang out to watch the sunset!
Restaurants & Nightlife
Riomaggiore doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife. Locals say for a bar with live music, head up to Manarola. Riomaggiore closes down around 10pm and it becomes a ghost town. Not surprising for a fishing village; fisherman are up with the sun to get the best catch! Riomaggiore is best seen (and prettiest) during the daylight hours anyway.
There are pizzerias galore in Riomaggiore! Prices are very easy to digest also. Surprisingly, Riomaggiore has a big takeout business (take away, as the Europeans say). Every restaurant had a sign outside that advertised lower prices for takeout. Some restaurants only offer takeout. There were two main restaurants that had a sit-down area and bar (although these too closed down by 10pm and were open by 8am). La Lampara Bar & Pizzeria has 3 tables outside to enjoy the nice scenery and weather, but predictably they fill up fast. La Lampara advertises craft beer for the alcohol enthusiast. Bar Centrale has a nice patio for outdoor seating under a wooden hut. Prices are very reasonable and the pasta is good, and if you’re lucky you can sit in the company of one of the local stray cats.
Finally, an Italian town, no matter how small, wouldn’t be complete without a gelateria. Gelateria Centrale Di Germani E Giaccio is some very good gelato, and I’ve tried it all over Italy! It’s open later than the restaurants so you won’t be disappointed when your sweet tooth gets the best of you.