The only natural port of the Cinque Terre, the village of Vernazza develops along the Vernazzola stream (now covered) climbing up the rocky face of a cliff, which hides the view of houses to those who come at it from the sea.
Very narrow, steep paths descend towards the main road which leads onto a small square located facing the small port. Along with the typical tower-shaped houses, which are also present in Riomaggiore, Manarola and Monterosso, there are more architecturally elaborated buildings decorated by portals and porticos, as a reminder of the prosperity the village once enjoyed under Genoese domination.
Very well maintained are the ancient castles, characteristic of Cinque Terre and of Vernazza particularly. The small harbour can host small/mid size boats and provides sufficient shelter for mid-sized waves, but it’s not enough for the great winter sea storms.
Vernazza has been for several years the main point of attraction of Cinque Terre, together with Monterosso. The views are spectacular, from the sea as well as from the paths. The vital center of Vernazza is located in the square abutting the harbour and everything is very concentrated. Thus, the over-crowding may prove excessive for the fastidious, especially those who choose to stay the night.