My last village spotlight was on Corniglia, the Cinque Terre’s smallest and most remote village. For my second spotlight, I chose the perfect juxtaposition: Monterosso.
Monterosso is the largest and most bustling of the Cinque Terre villages. It is considered either the first or fifth village, depending on what direction you are arriving from (it’s first from the direction of Genoa or fifth from the direction of La Spezia). It’s the only flat village in the Cinque Terre and also offers the Cinque Terre’s best beaches.
This place is paradise for those looking for the “Italian Riviera experience.”
The village is split into two distinct neighborhoods: the more modern (and very beachy) Fegina and the historical center, oftentimes called Monterosso Vecchio. These two sides of the village are connected by a picturesque promenade and a tunnel that cuts through the rock cliff.
When you arrive by train to Monterosso you will come out into the modern Fegina neighborhood. As you exit the train station, make a left and walk along the promenade (and then through the tunnel) and you will connect to Monterosso Vecchio (about a 10 minute walk). If you’re strapped with luggage you can actually take a taxi (which is a luxury offered only in this Cinque Terre village).
If you take a right as you exit the train station you will head towards the heart of modern Fegina where you will find lots of private beaches (and a few small public sections) and a promenade dotted with playground equipment (this is also where you’ll find two of my recommended restaurants).
Monterosso, although not as characteristic and quaint as the other four villages, is ideal for those wanting modern comforts and those looking for a relaxing, beachy holiday. Monterosso is chock-full of shops, restaurants, hotels and beaches.
Italians LOVE Monterosso. In fact, in the summer months you’ll find more Italian vacationers here than in any of the other villages of the Cinque Terre. Italians adore modern comforts and conveniences (and minimal effort), including the use of the stabilimenti balneare (the private beaches where you can rent a lounge chair and a beach umbrella + have access to showers, changing cabins and a snack bar).
My personal recommendations in Monterosso
My absolute favorite local dessert is the torta Monterossina which you can get a slice of at Pasticceria Laura in Monterosso Vecchio. The torte has a pastry crust and layers of sponge cake, apricot preserves, pastry cream and dark chocolate. My favorite is when it’s served warm and gooey. It’s rich and decadent and something I crave. Beware that the bakery is closed on Tuesdays.
The best focaccia I’ve had in Monterosso can be found here:
It’s called Il Frantoio but you won’t see signs saying that anywhere. A local tipped me off about this place a few years back and, as usual, locals know best! To find this hidden gem just walk up the main street in Monterosso Vecchio and keep an eye out for via Gioberti on the right. You’ll see the doorway located just off the main street on the narrow medieval lane. This is one of the few places that still sells focaccia by weight, which I admire (and pocketbooks appreciate).
I also love the pizza by the slice and focaccia at Il Massimo della Foccacia in Monterosso Fegina (on the promenade, directly beneath Monterosso’s train station). Their pizza margherita (cheese pizza) served by the slice is delicious!
Tasty gelato and friendly faces await you at Gelateria Golosone in Monterosso Vecchio. The entrance to the gelateria is just off the main street (blink and you’ll miss it!).
One of my favorite restaurants in Monterosso is La Cantina di Miky, where the fish is fresh and the pasta is handmade each day. Expat Christine (from New Jersey) and her Italian husband (son of the proprietor of Ristorante Miky, see below) run this little place in Fegina. They have outdoor seating on the promenade with sea views but I personally prefer to dine inside as I love the intimate atmosphere they’ve created. Christine is knowledgable not only about their menu items—which she conveys in perfect English—but also about each ingredient used in every dish. Michele (that’s the Italian version of Michael and pronounced Me-kay-lay), one of their wait staff, exudes professionalism and warm Italian hospitality. Ask about their locally-sourced daily specials and don’t shy from trying their acciughe (anchovy) sampler appetizer so you can walk away with a better appreciation of the little fish that made Monterosso famous throughout Italy. Heads up: La Cantina di Miky is closed on Wednesdays.
If you’re a foodie or just looking for a fine dining experience, check out Ristorante Miky in the Fegina neighborhood of Monterosso. It’s a bit pricey but worth every cent. Things here are made to order so don’t expect it to be speedy. This is the type of meal where you sit back, relax and savor the meal. While Cinque Terre is typically casual, you’ll want to dress a little nicer (or risk feeling out of place).
If you’re wanting to eat in Monterosso Vecchio (the historical center) my favorite eatery there is Ristorante CIAK. Some might see this place as cliché but I can’t help but love the owner in his sailor garb and the fact that you can peek into the kitchen from the main street. This is classic Italian seafood, served in generous portions.
Do you have any other recommendations in Monterosso? Do you find my blog helpful? Please do tell!
26 thoughts on “Village spotlight: MONTEROSSO”
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Hi Amy, You’ve got a great story and very informative website. I’ve learned some very helpful tips from reading your blog. My wife and I will be staying in Monterosso Vecchio at the Capucchini House for a week in September to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I’m thrilled to learn about the week long train pass. We arrive on a Saturday so if I understand correctly we should wait until Monday to buy it. Can you tell me do they have a Santa Margherita to Riomaggiore option? The train doesn’t go to Portovenere does it? Also, Is there a Ferry that goes from Monterosso to Portofino? We’re already looking forward to dinner at Miky and lunch at D’al Billy! Also, Can I get your opinion about L’Ancora della Tortuga and Belforte? Congrats on the new arrival! Joe & Laura
Ciao Joe & Laura!
Thanks for following the blog!
I don’t want to put a spanner in your plans but they are currently reformulating the entire Cinque Terre rail system (substituting with a so-called light rail, still operated by TrenItalia). With these changes they are wanting to considerably raise rates, which will affect everything from single tickets to passes. However, this is currently being highly protested by Cinque Terre locals and the decisions previously made by officials (unbeknownst to locals) are being challenged in a court of appeals. Until we know more I’ve been holding off on posting. Do keep an eye on the blog as I will most definitely post about it here.
FYI: To reach Portovenere you will need to travel by ferry, foot or car as there’s no railway line there.
During peak-season there’s a twice weekly ferry from Riomaggiore to Portovenere (leaving early morning and returning late afternoon).
Belforte in Vernazza is great! I highly recommend it. 🙂
Hope this info helps!
Hi Amy, Thanks for the reply and answers. I will definitely be keeping an eye on your blog from now until the trip and rooting hard for the Cinque Terre locals!
Hi again Amy! Laura & I will be in Monterosso for the 1st week in September. We want to take a day trip to Santa Margherita by train and then the Ferry from Santa Margherita to Portofino. My question is: If we buy a round trip train ticket to Santa Margherita does that allow us to “hop on hop off” at some of the stops in between ( Levanto, Sestri Levante, etc.). If so can you recommend your favorite stops along the way or on the way back. Does this sound like a reasonable day trip? Thanks again for your great website!
Usually your tickets (with a departure location and arrival location) will be good for a set amount of time from when they are validated in the machine before boarding the train (ask at the train station for specifics regarding your ticket). If I were you, I would go ahead and plan where you’d like to stop and buy tickets accordingly (e.g. one ticket for Monterosso to Sestri Levante and then one ticket for Sestri Levante to Santa Margherita Ligure). This way you won’t have to rush! I think if you choose one stop (I’m partial to Sestri Levante, it’s beautiful!) and then do Santa Margherita & Portofino that will be plenty for one day. 🙂
Hi Amy, That sounds like a great plan! Good info. Thanks for the insight. I have another question. We plan on spending our first full day in Monterosso at one of the private beaches to recover from the trip and jet lag. Can you recommend the best beach club to rent chairs and an umbrella with the best sand? I’m thinking Stella Marina but it’s the only one I know of. Do any of them rent Cabanas?
Stella Marina has sand & small pebbles but it’s also one of the most kid-friendly (so if you don’t want to be around a bunch of kids/families it might not be the best choice for you).
Bagni Eden doesn’t have sand (it has small pebbles) but it’s located on the most picturesque stretch of beach in Fegina and has beautiful crystal clear water. You know that gorgeous rock jutting out of the sea? That’s in Bagni Eden’s section of the beach.
Wherever you decide to go, I definitely recommend going early as there aren’t tons of beds available and during prime time they sell out (lots are reserved for a month or two, if not the whole season, by locals or those with holiday homes nearby).
Hi Amy, Thanks again! you are so full of good info! Is Bagni Fegina a separate private beach as well?
Fegina is the stretch of beach on the newer side of Monterosso (the side where the train station is located). Bagni Fegina is one of many private portions of this same beach and will have umbrellas & lounge chairs for rent.
Hope that helps!
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Whe like to go by boat to Manarola from La Spezia ,where will we get te boat in La Spezia ???
Great blog /info site ,learn a lot of the CT area, THANXS.
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I’m so happy to hear you’ve found the blog useful!
If you’d like to take the ferry from La Spezia to Manarola (via Portovenere), you’ll need to pick up the ferry at Passeggiata Morin (right on the waterfront in La Spezia). The nearest parking garage will be beneath Piazza Europa (you’ll have to walk a few blocks to get to the ferry docking point).
I hope this info helps!
Hi Amy, any recommendations to stay in Monterrosso please ,we are 3 people going for 4 days and looking for a nice places to stay , decent budget, thanks , love your blog can’t stop reading all about cinque terre
I’ll need some more specifics in order to point you in the right direction. Are you wanting a triple room? Are you wanting hotel or do you prefer a room or apartment rental (like AirBnB)? What’s your max. price you’re willing to pay per night?
So glad to hear I’m helping you get excited about the Cinque Terre! 🙂
Hi again Amy,
We will be staying in Monterosso for the week of September 23-30. Will the beach rentals still be available this time of year? Can you give me an idea of what the water conditions will be like?
We really want to take the bus from Manarola to Volastra and do the hike on Trails 6d to 7a to Corniglia. Have you done this?
Also thanks to your recent post we have already purchased 3 day Cinque Terre Train Cards. Are the print outs all we need or is this a voucher that we need to use to redeem the actual cards when we arrive?
Thanks again for your great website!
Joe & Laura Guzi
Ciao Joe & Laura!
Most of the “stabilimenti balneari” should still be open for September but it really depends on their particular license/authorization.
I’ve hiked from Manarola to Corniglia via Volastra many times. I’ve never taken the bus from Manarola to Corniglia but that will cut out the most difficult portion of the hike. 🙂 You’ll find the trailhead to reach Corniglia directly in front of the main entrance to Volastra’s church. Heads up: the trail numbers you cited have been replaced with a new numbering system (although you don’t really need them as it’s easy to find Corniglia from Volastra and you’ll find frequent trail markers).
All you’ll need for your purchased cards are the printouts! Your names and the validity dates should already be on there so you’re good to go!
It’s my pleasure to be of help! Enjoy your Cinque Terre vacation. 🙂
Thanks again for the great answers! Yes indeed our plan is to cut out the uphill from Manarola to Volastra :). Interesting about the trail numbers changing. I had not seen that anywhere.
Question: Is it possible to go inside L’Ancora della Tortuga and Belforte and get a drink at the bar without dinner reservations. Do they both have bars inside? We just want to see inside without actually having a full dinner there.
Joe & Laura
Ciao Joe & Laura!
Neither place has a bar for non-dining customers. Both places offer spectacular views from outdoor tables (and nothing too spectacular to see indoors). You can walk by on the public walkway at Tortuga and have a peek or up the staircase at Belforte to do the same.
Hi Amy, OK so I just booked a reservation at Belforte & Tortuga! One last question. We had to give the specific 3 days for the validity of the Cinque Terre Cards we bought on line. If we don’t start using them until the 2nd day will they still be valid for the following 3 days or are we stuck with the original 3 days? Ciao, Joe
Your Cinque Terre Cards will be valid only for the dates you specified online when you purchased them. 😊
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Any recommendations on beach clubs that accommodate day trippers? Traveling in from Florence for the day and would like to have a nice set up for the day.
Thanks in advance.
While there are plenty of locals (or vacationers who stay for the entire summer) who pay for the season at the beach clubs, in Monterosso there will always be some chairs and umbrellas available for hire on a walk-in basis. The earlier you arrive in the day, the better your chances are of snagging one! Getting there early is even more critical if you plan to be there on a weekend (as Italians flock to the beach on their days off).
Without a doubt, the most picturesque section of the beach in Monterosso Fegina can be found at Bagni Nuovo Eden (it’s the beach club closest to the tunnel connecting to the historical center of Monterosso). However, heads up that the pebbles here can be a bit uncomfortable underfoot. If you prefer sand, head to Stella Marina (if you exit the Monterosso train station make a right and walk along the promenade until you run into it). Stella Marina has a more kid-friendly vibe than Bagni Nuovo Eden (which can be a plus or minus depending on who you are traveling with).
Expect to pay €25-30 for an umbrella and two sun loungers for the day.
I hope this helps!
Thanks Amy! Any idea about lockers to rent for the day to lock up valuables?
The beach clubs should offer lockers (or changing rooms with your own key) for an additional fee. Ask about rates and availability before committing to your umbrella and sun lounger. 😉👍