A bit about the origins of Vernazza, cinque terre. The name is thought to derive from the Latin adjective verna, meaning “of the place or “indigenous”. Thus the village’s name would be linked to its most famous product, Vernaccia, the local wine.
As you approach Vernazza from the sea, its small piazza seems to slowly open its arms to greet you.
On the small piazza facing the Mediterranean sea one seems to return to the basics of life. The church standing in this piazza seems to defy the waves as they come in from the sea.
Dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch, the church was constructed in Gothic-Ligurian style.
The harbor is framed by this church and by the cylindrical watchtower of the ancient Doria castle, which together with the square watchtower is all that remains of the ancient anti-corsair defensive works of the Republic of Genoa.
Apart from the terraced houses typical of seaside villages, the upper part of Vernazza is all porticoes, arcades and steep narrow lanes overhung by arches linked by stairways leading to other stairways. The carruggi (alleys) and houses lit up by the sun seem to long for the water, to lean forward and dive into it.
Some of the most beautiful pathways of the Cinque Terre branch out from this small piazza, in particular those leading to the sanctuary of the Madonna di Reggio, erected in the 11th century and housing a black Madonna.
All around are the typical Mediterranean vegetation, sky, sea and the serenity of the Riviera.
On the picturesque terraces cut into the rock and cliffs, the natives have for centuries cultivated pergola vineyards which yield excellent wines: the DOC wines include the white wine of the Cinque Terre and Schiacchetrà, the most famous raisin wine in Italy, of which only a very small quantity is produced every year. The region also produces PDO extra-virgin olive oil and fragrant lemons.
Trofie with pesto sauce is the local specialty. Trofie are a pasta made of wheat (or chestnut) flour. Genoa’s pesto is an ancient Mediterranean product as well: basil, olive oil of the highest quality, pine nuts, marjoram and grated cheese.
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