Cinque Terre: Hidden Gem of Italy
Europe has many gorgeous cities, many of them crucially important to some of the world’s biggest industries. However, European countries are also known for their tiny little gems of cities, the ones that are tucked away and off the beaten path. One of those such places is called Cinque Terre, and it’s a little coastal town in the northwestern region of Liguria, Italy.
This hidden gem of a town is actually built into the cliffs of the coastline and has become a very popular tourist destination over the last few decades, despite its villages being impossible to reach by cars from the outside. Cinque Terre is comprised of five small villages that date back to medieval times and are connected only by a 19th-century railway and snaking footpaths.
Like much of Italy, Cinque Terre offers incredible food and wine, with winemaking being a particularly large industry within the region. White wines are the focus here and are covered by the Cinque Terre DOC label, meaning all of the grapes have come from the villages of Cinque Terre.
Vernazza, one of the villages of Cinque Terre, is even claimed to have given its name to the grape varietal Vernaccia, a very popular grape now grown in Tuscany after being transplanted in the 1300s. One of the true points of pride of this region is the honey-sweet dessert wine Sciacchetra, made from grapes that have dried for up to 40 days. It’s fairly expensive though, mostly because it takes 45 pounds of grapes just to get 15 pounds of dried ones, from which a winemaker can only make one bottle.
Part of what makes this such a fabulous wine region is the beautiful climate that comes with being on the coastal cliffs. The summer months are warm and dry with good amounts of rain in the spring and fall. The heat of the summer sun helps to concentrate the flavor within the grapes, which is why the dessert wine is so delicious.
The best time to visit this picturesque region is in the early fall when harvesters are picking the grapes from the robust vineyards. You can visit the cooperative winery and hike through the trails as the vines are handpicked to begin production!