What to do in the Cinque Terre this December

December is decidedly off-season in the Cinque Terre, but catch some nice weather and you’re in for a treat! Nearly empty streets (with the exception of locals and the rare tour group) allow visitors to appreciate the true beauty of the Cinque Terre.

Visiting the Cinque Terre in the off-season isn’t for everyone; if you’re hoping to hit the shops and choose from a plethora of restaurants, you’re going to be disappointed. The off-season is the time when locals catch up on R&R after a long peak-season; many businesses close (some on rotation, others for the entire off-season). However, if you come seeking tranquillity and low-key explorations, you’ll be rewarded, big time.

I will soon be posting an off-season schedule for open restaurants, bars & cafes in the Comune di Riomaggiore. Stay tuned!

For those of you planning to visit the Cinque Terre this December, check out these scheduled events. I’ve highlighted what I think is of the most interest to visitors and I will be updating as various events are announced later on:

December 5th through 9th in Monterosso:

Saturday 12/8:

  • from 2pm: Living nativity scene (with the birth of Jesus at 6pm)
  • 6:30pm: Religious procession

Sunday 12/13:

  • 3pm: Religious procession

Saturday, December 8th in Manarola:

10:30am: Eco-friendly Christmas ornament workshop for children. Free, but advance reservations are required. Email: cea@parconazionale5terre.it

5pm: Candle lit procession on the hillside where the village’s nativity scene is located

5:30pm: Lighting of Manarola’s nativity scene with fireworks

Throughout the day there will be a Christmas craft fair as well as a refreshment stand starting at 2pm.



Patron saint festivities in Riomaggiore and Monterosso this weekend

Are you lucky enough to be in the Cinque Terre this weekend? If so, you won’t want to miss the San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) patron saint festivities in Riomaggiore and Monterosso. Here are their respective calendar of events:

What you won’t want to miss:

  • Riomaggiore’s religious procession at 9pm on Saturday, June 23rd
  • Monterosso’s concert at 9pm and bonfire at 10pm on Saturday, June 23rd (as this coincides with Riomaggiore’s festivities you’ll have to decide between the two villages)
  • Monterosso’s religious procession at 9pm, floating luminaries at 10pm and fireworks at 10:30pm on Sunday, June 24th

Wondering when Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza have their patron saint celebrations? Check out my previous post here.



Holiday happenings in the Cinque Terre

The off-season in the Cinque Terre typically spans from the beginning of November through the week before Easter. However, things pick back up a bit for the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s.

Here’s a running list of happenings over the 2017 holiday period in the Cinque Terre (keep checking back as I will update as more events are released):

December 22nd: A free concert will be held in Vernazza’s church at 9pm. Advance reservations are requested (although I highly doubt they’ll turn people away at the door).

December 23rd: The highly awaited inauguration and lighting of Manarola’s Presepe (nativity scene), which covers the hillside opposite the village, will take place at 5:30pm. Expect fireworks (and lots of people). I recommend arriving early as there will be events preceding the lighting.

Photo credit: Michael Pasini

December 24th: At 9:30pm Monterosso will hold a religious procession which will start in the sea (spectators will be at the water’s edge) at the Molo dei Pescatori in the historical center of the village. The procession will lead to the church where at circa 10:30pm a special Christmas Eve Mass will be held. Following Mass, hot chocolate, panettone (Italian Christmas cake) and Christmas cheer will be shared.

December 26th through January 5th: On various dates there will guided excursions of Manarola’s world famous Presepe (nativity scene) as well as planned visits to local wineries. Advance reservations required (see details below).

December 31st: New Year’s Eve party with deejay in Monterosso’s Piazza Garibaldi starting at 11pm.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!


St. Francis celebration in Monterosso this weekend

You may or may not know that St. Francis (San Francesco d’Assisi) is the patron saint of Italy (as well as the patron saint of animals and the environment). St. Francis holds a special spot in the hearts of Italians and to this day it’s a popular name for boys in Italy. 

Although St. Francis’ Feast Day was October 4th, this weekend he will be celebrated in Monterosso by the Capuchin friars and the local population.

At 9pm today (Saturday, October 7th) a free concert will be held in honor of St. Francis at the Monastery of Capuchin Friars in Monterosso.  At 11am on Sunday, October 8th, a special Mass will be held in the same location. At 12:15pm on Sunday a lunch will be held in Piazza Garibaldi in Monterosso with live entertainment and a missionary fundraiser present. 

The Capuchin friars have been a part of Monterosso since the creation of the village and they are well-loved and respected by locals.  The festivities celebrating St. Francis  are a tradition and rekindle comradery between the friars and residents of Monterosso. 

If you’re in the Cinque Terre this weekend, this is a great cultural event you won’t want to miss! 


July & August scheduled events in the Cinque Terre

Summers in the Cinque Terre are rich in scheduled events. Check out the fliers posted below (in no particular order, although I will delete them after the event has passed) to see if something suits your fancy. 

Foam party in Riomaggiore

July 5th street party & dancing in Monterosso

Monterosso’s schedule of events for July 2017

Cinque Terre Art Festival events take place at sunrise or sunset

For the athletes, mark July 22nd on your calendar (advance reservations required, max. 50 runners)

July 9th & 10th in Monterosso

Ballroom dancing in Monterosso

I’m going to keep this post updated with schedules as they are released so keep checking back. If you need help deciphering what a particular event or activity is, just ask me below in the comments.

Buon divertimento!


International Music Festival preview today in Monterosso 

Today in Fegina (the newer side of Monterosso) preview events will be held for the 36th annual International Music Festival. The schedule is as follows:

  • 5:30pm: Guided walk to points of interest in Eugenio Montale’s childhood. Adequate footwear required for walking/hiking on unpaved paths. The walk will last circa 1 1/2 hours and is free of charge but limited to 25 participants. To reserve call +39 346 8299811 or +39 339 8340911. The meeting point will be at the TI office at the 1st platform at Monterosso’s train station. 
  • 7:30pm: A free welcome aperitif will be served. 
  • 8:30pm: Tales will be recounted of the ties between Montale’s poetry and Monterosso (and the Cinque Terre). 
  • 9:15pm: Madrigal homage to Montale’s poetry (with a pianist, soprano and narrator). 

The latter three events are all free of charge and take place at the Circolo Velico “Gino e Bebe De Andreis” located in the Fegina neighborhood of Monterosso at via Fegina #13.

San Giovanni Battista: Patron Saint festivities today 

Riomaggiore’s schedule of events for San Giovanni Battista

Each village, town or city in Italy has a patron saint and each day of the year is dedicated to at least one saint (called a feast day in English).  June 24th is the feast day of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), patron saint of both Riomaggiore and Monterosso.  Festivities in both places will take place leading up to San Giovanni’s feast day. 

Interested in other feast days for the Cinque Terre villages and other nearby cities? Check out my previous post here

Aside from a special Mass today (Friday, June 23rd) at 6pm, villagers in Riomaggiore will also partake in a special procession dedicated to San Giovanni Battista at 9pm. After the procession (which heads to the marina from the big church, and back) there will be fundraisers on the piazzale (church square). Rumor has it there will be fireworks after the procession this year.

Whether you’re religious or not, these processions and festivities are a fascinating way to observe and connect with local traditions. 

Corpus Domini celebrations today

Corpus Domini (Latin for “body of Christ”) is a celebration in the Roman Catholic Church. In English, we call it Corpus Christi (no, it’s not just a city in Texas). The festivities take place 60 days past Easter (but if the date doesn’t land on a Sunday it’s celebrated on the following Sunday). Corpus Domini/Christi celebrates the body and blood of Jesus Christ through the Eucharist (a.k.a. Holy Communion). In Italy, the celebration is today. 

There’s a beautiful Corpus Domini tradition in Monterosso (the fifth and largest village of the Cinque Terre). Locals create elaborate designs with flowers, petals, leaves, seeds, salt and sawdust on streets throughout the historical center. Be sure to check it out if you’re in the Cinque Terre today! As for tonight, there’s a religious procession that heads down the main street of Riomaggiore (the first village from the city of La Spezia) with the ultimate destination being the water’s edge in the marina.