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Away from the glitz — visit Cinque Terre in Italy and experience the vitality of life

Themed "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", the upcoming Expo Milano will showcase the results of research in agriculture, industry and trade in various countries from around the world. What if you want to go further and truly feel the vitality that nature has brought to the people of Italy? Cinque Terre is definitely your destination!

Simple, unchanging culture

Cinque Terre has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its special folkways and natural landscape. Located at the coast on the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre had experienced torrential rain in 2011 that triggered mudslides several meters deep and flooded most villages, leaving traces of disaster that are still visible today. The villagers took adversity in their stride and rebuilt their homes with a positive attitude. Locals operate hotels, restaurants or little specialty shops for a living, and lead a simple and leisurely life amid the beautiful landscape dotted with quaint houses they built along the steep slopes.

Strolling mountains and rivers

Cinque Terre is famous for its unique architecture, rich variety of wine and seafood. Its local specialty anchovies are granted the Protected Designation of Origin by the European Union, with the harvest and processing strictly controlled for quality. Manarola is the best known among the five villages and boasts a sweeping view from the sea up to the mountains with colourful buildings interspersed with trails on the slope. The unique scenery attracts many visitors from around the world day and night.

The village of Riomaggiore is famous for its Via dell' Amore hiking trail by the mountains. Hikers can start from Riomaggiore and climb about 300 steps to reach a village in the cliffs of Corniglia, with a spectacular view of the sky and sea from the vantage point. The mountains by the village of Vernazza are full of grapevines and tourists can enjoy local wine, delicious seafood, cheese and ham. You can try water sports like surfing or snorkelling, or just lay on the rocks to suntan and listen to the rippling waves. The annual Giro d'Italia cycling race in May this year will pass through Cinque Terre, during which excitement is guaranteed!

Relax and listen to your heart

After passing through four villages, be prepared to embrace Monterosso — the last village of Cinque Terre. You can opt for homestay to experience the simple rural life, but those who can't let go of the city and need internet access should bring their own mobile data Wi-Fi egg for more convenience. The villages of Cinque Terre are peaceful and serene at night, and the sound of waves lapping the shore and the distant echo of a train passing through a tunnel is probably the best, most beautiful lullaby for urbanites.

Travel tips

Transport: Direct flights from Hong Kong to Milan take about 13 hours, then a train to Monterosso takes about three hours. Tickets range from 15 to 30 Euros. For details, please refer to the Trenitalia website: www.trenitalia.com.
Currency: Euro
Climate: Cinque Terre is on the Mediterranean so the weather is humid, rainy, and unpredictable. From May to September is fairly dry and the average temperature is about 25°C.
Consorzio Turistico Cinque Terre website: www.cinqueterre.it

(By Candy Chan, winner of the third Young Writers' Debut Competition)

Enjoy the picturesque view of Cinque Terre from a train
The vast Mediterranean coast
Patchwork of colourful buildings
Striking scene of hills and sky
The clear water and fine sand attract numerous visitors every year
A mural outside the train station shows the destruction of the mudslide
A little girl tans on the rocks and listens to the waves
All the wine, cheese and ham you want
Vernazza clock tower
The famous Via dell Amore