Monterosso al Mare is the largest village of the Cinque Terre and also the first to be documented (1056).
Consisting of two districts, the old village and Fegina, the more touristy part, Monterosso al Mare also boasts important monuments. Amongst these the XIV century church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), in front of which rose the Medieval Palazzo del Podestà, of which some traces remain. Of great importance, on the colle dei (hills of) Cappuccini, the castello dei Fieschi (the castle of Fieschi) and the monastero (monastry) whose church is San Francesco (St. Francis), contains works of art of unestimable value amongst which pictures attributed to Van Dick, Cambiaso, Piola and Guido Reni.
Villa Montale can be found at Fegina, where the Nobel prize winner for Literature stayed and the Gigante (Giant), imposing statue in reinforced cement built at the beginning of 1900 which originally held up a terrace in the shape of a shell.
Vernazza, considered by many to be the most charming of the Cinque Terre was documented for the first time in 1080. The remarkable economic and social level reached by the village in Medieval times and still today testified by the town planning conformation and by the presence of architectural elements of great importance, like lodges, churches, casetorri and arcades. The village is dominated by the remains of the “castrum” a series of Medieval forts dating back to the XI century, with a cylindrical castle and tower. The built up area comprises separate houses in a single central street and perpendicularly steep flights of steps called “arpaie”. The most important historical moment is Santa Margherita di Antiochia (St. Margaret of Antioch), a Roman-Genovese style church, whose construction dates back to the XIII century in which are recognised a Medieval body and a Renaissance one.
the only village of the Cinque Terre not in contact with the sea, rising on top of a rock promontory. Its low and wide houses are more similar to those of the hinterland than to the typical coastal houses, evidence that the traditional vocation of the village has always been more inclined towards the land than the sea. The most important monument of the village is the Church of San Pietro (St. Peter), of gothic-genovese style built around 1350 on the remains of the previous building. The façade of the church, embellished by a marble rosette is enriched by many decorations, amongst which a bas-relief which shows a deer, the emblem of the village. Also interesting are l’Oratorio dei Disciplinati (Oratory of the Disciplined), dating back to 1700 and from which one has a breathtaking view of the sea, largo Taragio, the small main square of Corniglia, real pulsating heart of the village.
hamlet of Riomaggiore, is a town planning jewel, rich as it is in typical tower houses of Genovese style. Founded during the XII century, the village probably derives its name from an antique “magna roea”, a large mill wheel present in the village. The first evidence of the village dating back to the year 1200, is relative to the events of the Fieschi, whilst in the XVI century there was news of their strenuous resistance against the pirate raids. The most important monument of the hamlet is the church of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence), which was built in 1338, work of the inhabitants of Manarola and Volastra, as testifies the stone on the façade of the church. The layout with three aisles, whilst the façade is embellished with a rosette of twelve columns. Also important is the bell tower, detached from the main body of the church, probably because originally it held a defensive role.