I just saw the trailer for Pixar's new movie, "Luca" (a boy's name here in Italy = Luke) and couldn't believe it was set in the Cinque Terre, where I've been taking groups hiking for over 20 years! The "Cinque Terre" means "five lands" and refers to 5 small villages tucked into the cliffs of the Ligurian coast south of Genoa. The set for the new animated movie is based loosely on the colorful village of Vernazza, albeit with a very idealized "old Italy" feel. Today the main street is lined with souvenir shops and many of the apartments have been turned into tourist rentals. But who cares, it's still gorgeous, and should make a great backdrop to the new movie!
I'll post a few stills from the trailer and then some pics of the actual town to give you a preview. This image above is lovely but you actually never see Vernazza from that angle (at least you don't from the trail, and you pretty much have to stay on the trail during that stretch of coastline). It can actually be quite dangerous to wander off!
Here below you see the real village, on the approach from the trail coming in from Monterosso. You can see the series of dry-stone wall terraces cut right into the hillside for growing grapes. It's back-breaking labor (to build the walls AND to harvest the grapes), and the walls were the reason that the five villages got classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The next village, Corniglia, is on the next ridge over and the 5th village, Riomaggiore, is by the ridge beyond that.
Here's the Pixar view from the breakwater, and below that is the actual village.
Here's their highly imaginative town square, complete with 3-wheeled "Ape" (Ape means "bee" as it's basically a Vespa -- which means "wasp" -- with a cab on it) and a woman carrying a wicker basket on her head. You still see Apes driving around (it's pronounced "Ah-pay" by the way!) but I doubt any woman has carried a basket on her head for a long time!
Nowadays the square is full of visitors enjoying a cappuccino or glass of wine at one of the many cafes.
Or on a quiet day it might be just you and the cats. :-) You'll notice that they got the two arches right! But they put the main street (there is only one) on the other side.
The port area is pretty accurate, and you can see the small jetty where the ferries come in right behind the kids.
Current view of the port:
The area in front of the church has a lovely sun pattern made of pebbles, a Ligurian tradition:
It's actually a tiny town with only a few alleyways parallel to the main street. And of course there are lots of STAIRS.
Here below is a still from the trailer again, showing the idealized town basking in the sun. It's fairly accurate, just a bit prettier than the actual view.
They even got this right! That little hole actually exists!
Vernazza can be crazy-crowded in the high season but all you have to do is climb up a bit and you get spectacular postcard views from all sides.
From this shot you can see both of the medieval towers, and in the far distance you can see Monterosso al Mare, the 1st and largest of the Cinque Terre.
And while we're at idealized versions of things, here's ME 15 years ago!
I've been to this area SO MANY TIMES in the past 25 years, but their beauty still takes my breath away. In fact, it was the first place I went when we were let out of lockdown last summer! Hope you enjoyed the tour :-)