Monterosso al Mare is the largest village of the Cinque Terre and also the first to be documented (1056).
Consisting of two districts, the old village and Fegina, the more touristy part, Monterosso al Mare also boasts important monuments. Amongst these the XIV century church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), in front of which rose the Medieval Palazzo del Podestà, of which some traces remain. Of great importance, on the colle dei Cappuccini, the Castello dei Fieschi and the monastry whose church is San Francesco.
Vernazza, considered by many to be the most charming of the Cinque Terre was documented for the first time in 1080. The remarkable economic and social level reached by the village in Medieval times and still today testified by the town conformation and by the presence of architectural elements of great importance, like lodges, churches, “casetorri” and arcades. The village is dominated by the remains of the “castrum” a series of Medieval forts dating back to the XI century, with a cylindrical castle and tower.
Corniglia, the only village of the Cinque Terre not in contact with the sea, rises on top of a rock promontory. Its low and wide houses are more similar to those of the hinterland than to the typical coastal houses, evidence that the traditional vocation of the village has always been more inclined towards the land than the sea. The most important monument of the village is the Church of San Pietro (St. Peter), of gothic-genovese style built around 1350 on the remains of the previous building.
Manarola, hamlet of Riomaggiore, is a town planning jewel, rich as it is in typical tower houses of Genovese style. Founded during the XII century, the village name probably comes from an antique “magna roea”, a large mill wheel present in the village. The first evidence of the village dating back to the year 1200, is relative to the events of the Fieschi, whilst in the XVI century there was news of their strenuous resistance against the pirate raids. The most important monument of the hamlet is the church of San Lorenzo, which was built in 1338, work of the inhabitants of Manarola and Volastra. Also important is the bell tower, detached from the main body of the church, probably because originally it held a defensive role.
We have the first news of Riomaggiore only in 1251, when the inhabitants of the district of Carpena, swore faith to the Republic of Genova. Between 1200 and 1300 the inhabitants of these settlements decided to go down towards the sea and give life to the village. A movement which was favoured by the consolidation of the genovese rule which allowed a more tranquil access to the sea on which commerce could develop quickly and safely. Riomaggiore boasts monuments of great interest, among which San Giovanni Battista and the Oratorio di Santa Maria Assunta. Also important is the castle which dominates the historical centre.
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