Photo: Boats in a picturesque harbor

In 1997, Italy's Cinque Terre was named a World Heritage site for its beauty and cultural significance.

Photograph courtesy Country Walkers

By Kim Brown Seely

On Country Walkers’ private seven-day Cinque Terre circuit, families follow the Italian Riviera, hiking between hillside fishing villages and paddling beneath the cliffs that line the Ligurian Sea. An additional perk: refueling with cappuccino and handmade gelato at each rest stop.

“The villages are connected by footpaths and linked by boat, rail, and trail,” says Country Walkers’ Tricia Dowhan. “So you can walk two miles [three kilometers] every day—or eight [thirteen kilometers]. It’s easy to improvise.” Kids hike, but also love climbing aboard trains to transfer towns or go deep into the caves of the Gambatessa mines. After your arrival in Genoa, a local guide leads you on a trek through olive groves and chestnut trees to your seaside hotel in Monterosso al Mare. From there, you’ll catch a boat to neighboring Riomaggiore, where you can explore the ruins of a 15th-century castle. The trek back follows a series of steep pathways overlooking the sea. Afternoons are free for hiking terraced vineyards or snorkeling the Mediterranean.

Where to Play

Work up an appetite hiking, touring, and swimming, then do as the Italians do: mangia! Picky eaters won’t be a problem­—kids make the transition readily from Easy Mac to macaroni con formaggio while you savor fresh local fish and hand-rolled gnocchi. On your trek through the Appennines, stop at the cheese factory, flour mill, and bakery along the way to pick up fresh foccacia for your picnic lunch.

At Day's End

Kids take a cooking class to learn how to bake a traditional Italian pizza or make their own gelato while you slip away to sample local vino.

Details

7 days; $3,698 per person; www.countrywalkers.com

Based on articles from National Geographic Adventure and updated by Greer Schott

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