Exploring Cinque Terre Through 6 Hyperlocal Culinary Delights

Age-old recipes, indigenous ingredients, and a passion for simplicity—the culinary secrets of this charming region on the Italian Riviera will have you saying molto deliziosa on repeat.


Five medieval fishing villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—with postcard pastel houses on the craggy cliffs of the dramatic Ligurian coast of Italy make up the region of Cinque Terre. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its arduous terrain was brought to life organically by humans who carved terraces on steep slopes to cultivate grapevines, olive and fig trees, lemon groves, big-leaf basil, rosemary, thyme, capers, and more. These are the ‘hero’ ingredients ruling its cuisine today. For locals, taking out time to enjoy a leisurely meal, with plenty of wine and shared conversations, is the essence of la dolce vita or ‘the sweet life’. Here are six local eats you can try to sample that sweetness, too.


Polpo con Patate


Ancient Greeks brought the art of boiling and marinating octopus to the Mediterranean, and the Italians came up with the idea of mixing it with potatoes. And so emerged a winning summertime dish! Eaten as both an appetiser and main course, classic Italian Polpo con Patate or ‘octopus and potatoes’ is a light, refreshing salad that celebrates all things local. Think tender and exquisite octopus fresh out of the Ligurian Sea, along with buttery, homegrown potatoes dressed with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice. Served either cold or slightly warm rather than hot, this hyperlocal speciality is sure to get you energised for all the sightseeing!
Try it at: Corniglia’s Ristorante La Posada offers its own version of Insalata di Polpo with an addition of tomatoes, olives, and scenic coastal views.




In the 19th century, dockworkers engaged in fishing on the Italian coast would opt for a quick yet satiating lunch of bread, olives, and vino bianco (white wine). And this led to the invention of focaccia in Liguria. This tasty, filling, and affordable snack is characterised by a crisp outer crust, tender inner crumb, and an earthy, fruity flavour from the abundant use of olive oil and salt. Focaccerias and cute cafés in Cinque Terre sell this delicious, dimpled flatbread by slices or weight, with an assortment of toppings like olives, onions, rosemary, sage, pesto, and tomatoes. Most Ligurians love to dip the classic focaccia into their frothy cappuccinos for breakfast!
Try it at: Il Fornaio Di Monterosso or La Cambusa in
Monterosso al Mare.


Frito Misto


A delicious helping of assorted fried seafood! The day’s fresh catch comprising local shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams, octopus, and more is dipped in batter, fried to perfection, skewered, and served in a paper cone. The best way to enjoy this treat is to sprinkle it with lemon juice and dip it in mayonnaise. A special mention must be reserved for the Monterosso speciality, anchovies or acciughe. Nicknamed pan du ma (bread of the sea), they are eaten fried, marinated,
pickled, or stuffed.
Try it at: Il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore for Frito Misto, and the Hotel Villa Adriana in Monterosso al Mare
for cheese-stuffed anchovies.




This deep-fried, tubular pastry, made from flour, butter, and sugar, filled with mildly sweet, luscious ricotta, and dusted with powdered sugar, was invented in Arab-occupied Sicily as a tribute to their Sultan. Soon, it became a mainstay in all of Italy, including in Cinque Terre. Today, gelaterias and pasticcerias dish out special cannoli variants, with pistachio, lemon, and chocolate-flavoured ricotta, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, and candied fruit. All we want to say is no one can-noli stop at one!
Try it at: Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre in Vernazza for its
handmade cannoli.


Pasta Al Pesto


This creamy, green sauce is known to all. Cinque Terre’s pesto, however, has a unique citrusy taste, thanks to its dark, flavourful basil. The 18th century, local pesto recipe remains unchanged till date: fresh basilico is ground with cheese, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts, using a marble mortar and pestle. After all, pesto comes from the Italian verb pestare meaning to pound or crush!
Try it at: Trattoria Gianni Franzi in Vernazza serves the region’s speciality pasta dishes with a view.




Lemons have been cultivated in Cinque Terre since the 17th century, especially in Monterosso al Mare, where favourable soil, humidity from the sea, and mild climate aid their growth. With numerous lemon trees lining private gardens and hillsides, limoncino was first formulated as a way for people to preserve this abundant fruit. The sweet, refreshing, neon-yellow, and well-balanced liqueur is every local’s beloved digestive (drink had after meals). And is best enjoyed alongside lemon-flavoured sorbet or gelato for dessert.
Try it at: Cinque Terre Wine House in Riomaggiore.

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