Vernazza - Photo Gallery 01 Gallery 02
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Vernazza, Province of LA SPEZIA
Corniglia is also situated on the coast but in a higher and better protected location. Like San Bernardino, which lies between Corniglia and Reggio, it is of Roman origin.
Vernazza boasts a glorious maritime history: in the thirteenth-century, when Genoa came into possession of the much-coveted gulf (the first to the west of Portovenere) it awarded important privileges to the Vernazza shipping industry. It also built an important shipyard there and equipped the town with a sizeable defence system, which not only included the Doria castle but also a city wall on the inland side and three watchtowers. The coastal side was defended by the Belforte battlements.
The Romanesque church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia stands on a rock. The coastal area lies inside the Cinque Terre National Park and is a protected area where fishing is strictly regulated. The Maemuna grotto is a natural aperture: you can go into it by boat to a depth of 50 metres into the cliff. The rocky underwater environment is ideal for diving; Vernazza has its own diving centre. The harbour can berth up to 200 boats.
Vernazza is at the heart of a network of roads connecting all the coastal towns of the Cinque Terre. The sanctuary of the Madonna di Reggio, which is situated against the hillside, is less than an hour's walk from the town along the old pathway that takes you through the terracings and past the Stations of the Cross; half way through your walk you will come across the chapel of San Bernardo. This has a Romanesque façade and a Baroque interior. It preserves a fourteenth-century statue of the Virgin Mary from the Tuscan school, which is an object of great devotion, and a beautiful collection of sailors' votary objects.
Olive groves and vineyards grow in an ideal climate on these hills: they have maximum exposure to the sunlight and are well-sheltered from the wind. The grapes that grow here are used to make white table wine and "Sciacchetrà", the famous Cinque Terre raisin wine. An oven-baked speciality called "Tegame alla Vernazzese" is made of anchovies, potatoes, tomatoes and spices. The painter Ettore Cozzani was born in Vernazza.
Note: The above is an extract taken from the official web-site of the Regione Ligure, Agriculture and tourism department - Tourist section.
Travel Hint: Travelling along the Italian Riviera to visit Liguria's coastal towns and cities is recommended by train - they are frequent, comfortable and generally on time. They also take you into the resort centres and give you an additional perspective and 'flavour' of Italian life. The car by contrast is not quite as practical and ideal as first appears. There are basically two roads along the Riviera, the 'autostrada' and the 'Aurelia'. Italian 'autostrada' can be fairly stressed environments and the coastal road (via Aurelia) is pretty in parts but very slow, passing through every little seaside town. Additionally, parking in most Ligurian coastal towns is not in abundance and can take much longer to find a space than ever imagined - during most of the year, not just in summer. With car-hire, petrol, motorway tolls and parking charges, the car soon becomes an expensive and less than ideal way of getting around - and more often than not, slower overall than the journey by train.
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