With castle ruins high above the sea, a pretty natural harbor, and a seaside piazza lined with cafes and bars, Vernazza is the most picturesque of the Cinque Terre villages. Unlike some of the others, you can get here by car — there’s a parking lot above the town. From there, you can take a shuttle bus down to the main street.

The narrow alleys, charming arcades, and colorful, slate-roofed houses make Vernazza a place to linger, even though there’s not much to do. The Ligurian pastel hues here are regulated by the local zoning board.

The Tourist Office is in the train station. And there’s Internet access at the Blue Marlin Bar and at the Internet Point. The small stone church with the iron grillwork is the Chapel of Santa Marta. Take the trail from the church for some spectacular views. Or take Trail No. 2 five minutes in either direction — toward Corniglia in the morning or toward Monterossa al Mare at dusk.

On Tuesday mornings, there’s a morning market. You can rent kayaks at the harbor for a tour of the coast. Or hike up to see the castle ruins. Other than that, most visitors relax on the rocky beach or in the cafes and watch the boats bob in the harbor.

There aren’t many Vernazza hotels. Most of the places to stay here are pensions or private rooms called affitta camere. Virtually all Vernazza accommodations have lots of stairs, so if you have difficulty with them, you’ll be happier somewhere else.

Don’t expect lots of services or facilities. Clean, simply furnished rooms are the order of the day here. The one thing you do want is a view. So request a room with an ocean-view terrace or balcony. Barring that, make sure that wherever you stay has a terrace or garden for guests’ use. Most Vernazza hotels don’t have restaurants, but the nearest trattoria is never far away.

Although Vernazza hotels are less expensive than most Italian coastal resorts, the days of the $25 pension are long gone.

La Mala is the most stylish hotel in Vernazza, and its four rooms book well in advance. This is the only place in town with flat-screen TVs with satellite service and mini bars. The décor is striking and tasteful with exposed beams and stone walls. The four rooms share a magnificent stone terrace overlooking the sea. Rooms 31 and 19 have views of the sea. Rates here are from 150 – 200 euros.

Located right on Piazza Marconi, Albergo Barbara occupies the top two floors of an old house. The views of the harbor from the two doubles on the main floor are some of the best in town. There are nine rooms, some with shared and some with private baths. Rooms are simple with tile floors, and those without private baths have a sink. Doubles start at 60 euros a night.

Vernazza

One of the better restaurants in town, Trattoria Gianni Franzi also has 23 rooms in two buildings. Not all the rooms in the older building have private bathrooms. But they compensate with tiny balconies with sensational views. Rooms in the newer building don’t have views but there’s a nice terrace garden for guests. The rate here includes a full breakfast.

Affitta Camere Elizabetta, also known as Elisabette Carro has two wonderful terraces with 360-degree views, tables, and deck chairs. There are a total of four rooms. All have private baths, and all but one have balconies. There are two suites with queen bedrooms on the ground and first floor. The ground-floor unit has a kitchen without a stove.

Giuliano Basso built his Camere himself from the local stone. The four rooms here are above a ravine of orange trees. There’s a splendid stone terrace, and a common area with refrigerator, dishes, and towels. The family room sleeps four.

Find more Italy hotels here.

1) La Mala
2) Albergo Barbara
3) Gianni Franzi
4) Affitta Camere Elisabetta
5) Giuliano Basso Camere

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