Monterosso al Mare is located at the center of a small natural gulf, protected by a small artificial reef, to the east of Punta Mesco in the Riviera of La Spezia. It is the westernmost of the Cinque Terre. In the west part of the original village, beyond the hill of the Capuchins, it is the village of Fegina, natural expansion and characterized by a relatively modern tourist resort facility compared to the ancient village that is reachable through a tunnel of a few tens of meters. The local train station is located at Fegina and the beaches are relatively larger compared to the narrow cliffs that characterize the other villages of the Cinque Terre.
The town is divided into two distinct parts: the old town and the new town. The two areas are divided by a single tunnel that caters to pedestrians and the very few cars in the town.
The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line and is well used by tourists and locals. The beach is the only extensive sand beach in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a small town overrun by tourists in the summer months.
The village was briefly excluded from the Cinque Terre trail in 1948, but was re-introduced in mid-1949. Italian officials considered the village too large to be considered part of the historic trail.
- The Castle, partially ruined, built by the Genoese.
- The parish church of St. John the Baptist (1282–1307). Its façade features four small marble columns and a main portal surmounted by a fresco portraying the baptism of Christ. The building is of a basilica-type plan that includes a nave and two aisles. The square medieval bell tower is crowned by merlons.
- The convent of Monterosso al Mare. The convent is visible from all parts of the Cinque Terre and is a prime attraction for tourists, thanks to its historical and artistic treasures. They are reminiscent of the 1600 building in Capuchin style, with the altar and choir in wood. Among its works of art is a “Crucifixion”, attributed to Van Dyck and “Saint Girolamo the penitent” by Luca Cambiaso. The refectory with its vaulted ceiling features Strozzi’s “Veronica”. The convent has maintained the characteristics typical of the time of its origins, in addition to the sublime view invites contemplation.
- The beach
- Monterosso Giant
Originally, the village was only accessible by sea or by mule paths that connected the villages of the Cinque Terre and to Via Roma, the main road that connected all of Italy to Rome. These mule paths have been maintained and used over the centuries and now provide hikers with a more intimate view of the sea-swept Cinque Terre. The area was recently designated as part of the national park system and is considered a protected area, to the effect of limited development and resource usage. The Cinque Terre hiking trails have been taken over by the national park system and there is now a fee to hike on all portions of the trail.
Today, the best way to go to Monterosso is to take local trains from La Spezia or Genoa or Intercity trains from Milan, Rome, Turin, and Tuscany. The village is connected to the E80 highway via a narrow, steep and winding 20 kilometres (12 mi) long road. Using the train is definitely the best option to get there. The train network reaches the other villages of Cinque Terre as well, while the road network is absolutely not practical.