The picturesque village of Riomaggiore is one of the five villages of the dramatic Cinque Terre coast in the east of the Liguria region of Italy, and the first you reach if arriving from the direction of Portovenere and La Spezia.
Most of the village of Riomaggiore is squeezed into a narrow and steep valley, with tall colourful houses on either side of the main road and a small harbour below. Although it is perhaps not quite as beautiful as Vernazza or Manarola, we considered Riomaggiore to be an exceptional village with a great deal of charm and character, principally because of its lovely main street, bustling with shops and cafes - and visitors! It is larger than most of the villages here
Although tourism is clearly a major local industry, the fishing boats in the harbour (and the vineyards you will also come across as you explore) are a reminder that Riomaggiore and the other villages actually have a real working population, not just cafes and tourist shops!
It is possible to arrive here by car, and there is a small car park at the top of the village, but parking places are very limited and we recommend you get here on the train that passes through all five of the villages and to the larger towns just outside the Cinque Terre.
Really you won't need any help finding your bearings, but most of the cafes and restaurants are along Via Colombo to the north-east of Piazza Vignaioli and in the other narrow streets to the south and west of the square. It is worth noting that the train station is a short walk through a tunnel from the village centre.
Because it is easier to get to than most of the Cinque Terre villages Riomaggiore does tend to be busier than the others, but don't let that deter you from visiting!
The principal historic monuments in the town, as in all the Cinque Terre villages, are the small churches. You can see the 14th century Church of Saint John the Baptist in the higher part of the village and the 13th century Church of Saint Anthony in the historic centre of Riomaggiore, and there are also several other small churches and shrines in the village.
There is not a beach in Riomaggiore itself, but if you take the path around to the left of the harbour you reach some large rocks where sunbathing is popular and where you also get nice views across the coast to the east.
Walking from Riomaggiore
The footpath from Riomaggiore to Manarola, called the Via dell Amore (trans: Lover's Lane), is very popular with visitors and not difficult - it will take you about 20 minutes (each direction). Although the same path continues all the way along the coast of the Cinque Terre it is often much harder to follow than this first section.
You should be aware that the coast path starts from Riomaggiore train station, and is not well signposted from the centre of the village: take the tunnel to the train station from underneath the main square in the centre of Riomaggiore. We tried to find the coast path by following the narrow lanes around the coast from the harbour but quickly got lost in a maze of narrow and steep alleys!
Hint: if you want to avoid spending too much on lunch here try the shops that sell cones of fried anchovies: a local speciality, delicious and very reasonably priced!
Of course, you are likely to visit Riomaggiore as part of a tour of the five villages of the Cinque Terre and a stroll along the stunning coast path: see the Cinque Terre guide. The next village along from Riomaggiore (heading north-west) is Manarola.
Slightly further east we also highly recommend that you visit the coastal village of Portovenere.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Liguria guide.