You’ll read over and over again – including on this site – that the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre are “fishing villages.” The description somehow makes them seem work-a-day, when in reality the vast majority of the money flowing into the Cinque Terre these days comes not from the fishermen who still ply the waters for anchovies every night but from the floods of tourists who visit each year.
But there is still a fishing industry off the coast of Liguria, and anyone visiting the Cinque Terre who likes to fish will no doubt be tempted by the sight of all those fishing boats and all that pretty water. Luckily for you, some of the fishermen who used to make their living doing nothing but fishing are now available to take tourists on fishing excursions in the Cinque Terre area during the high season.
Fishing tours in the Cinque Terre can be challenging to arrange before you arrive in the Cinque Terre, since most of the fishermen who are willing to take tourists on fishing trips don’t have websites or even email addresses set up to schedule trips. There are two fishing tour operators that I’m aware of that do have an online presence, but if you just show up during the high season and ask around, you will absolutely be able to find someone in one of the five villages with a boat and the time to take you fishing.
About Fishing in the Cinque Terre
Perhaps the most common creature fished out of the waters off the coast of the Cinque Terre is the anchovy (there’s even an anchovy festival in Monterosso al Mare each year in September), and fishing for anchovies is typically done at night. A boat used for anchovy fishing is called a lampara (pronounced lahm|PAH|rah), because of the spotlights used during nighttime fishing excursions for anchovies.
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(Don’t worry, most fishing tours in the Cinque Terre are daytime trips – although if you want to join a more traditional anchovy fishing outing I’m quite sure you could find someone to arrange that, too!)
Anchovies in the Cinque Terre – acciughe (pronounced ah|CHOO|geh) in Italian – aren’t always the overly salty and oily fish in little tins that most of us are familiar with. Most often they’re served fresh, sometimes mixed into a red sauce with spaghetti and usually served simply with good olive oil and lemon. Even if you don’t like the tinned version of anchovies, I encourage you to try acciughe in the Cinque Terre if you like fish.
Fishing Tours in the Cinque Terre
The two fishing excursion operators in the Cinque Terre who are online are listed below, with contact information. But don’t worry if you don’t want to set something up in advance. Ask around when you get to the Cinque Terre and someone will direct you to a fisherman with a boat and the necessary fishing equipment for a fishing trip while you’re there.
It is important to go with someone who knows the area, however, as the waters around the Cinque Terre are a protected marine environment and there are strict rules about what you can fish for in what places.
- Angelo’s Boat Tours, Monterosso al Mare – Angelo is a former fisherman whose American wife helped him transform one of his boats into a culinary tour vehicle. Normal trips with Angelo and Paula are boat tours of the area (with snorkeling equipment available) complete with a seafood meal served on board. Groups are no larger than 10 people, and arrangements are flexible if you have a big enough group to reserve the entire boat and you want something different – including private fishing excursions and even cooking lessons. Information about Angelo’s Boat Tours; contact Angelo’s Boat Tours via email; phone +39 333-318-2967
- A Casa Cinque Terre, Manarola – A Casa is a full-service operation, in case you want to take care of everything from your accommodation to your watercolor classes, olive oil tastings, and Italian lessons in one go. (In fact, one of the lodging options is aboard a 12-meter sailboat!) But if all you want is to arrange a fishing trip, you have several boat options to choose from and you’re set up with a local fisherman. Depending on what you want on your tour, you can also combine a fishing excursion with a cooking class. Information about A Casa Cinque Terre (click on Fishing and Boating from the left menu for further details); contact A Casa Cinque Terre via email; phone +39 0187 92 06 66