With its narrow streets and small squares, Vernazza is arguably the most charming of the five Cinque Terre towns, and therefore, usually the most crowded. Historically, it was the most important of them, since it was the only one fortunate enough to have a natural port and, therefore, became wealthier than its neighbors—as evidenced by the elaborate arcades, loggias, and marble work lining Via Roma and Piazza Marconi.

The village's pink, slate-roof houses and colorful squares contrast with the remains of the medieval fort and castle, including two towers, in the Old Town. The Romans first inhabited this rocky spit of land in the 1st century.

Today, Vernazza has a fairly lively social scene. Piazza Marconi looks out across Vernazza’s small sandy beach to the sea, toward Monterosso. The numerous restaurants and bars crowd their tables and umbrellas on the outskirts of the piazza, creating a patchwork of sights and sounds that form one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world.

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Fodor's Essential Italy 2024

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