Today, Michael and Matt share their LGBTQ+ secrets for the famed string of seaside cliff villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy.
The happy, smart, and sexy duo are no strangers to Out Travelers, who were introduced to the married world travelers and their meet-cute in our Spring 2022 print edition. The social media savvy Schueller came out on his YouTube channel in a viral video that inspired Lindsay to come out himself and record a video reply, albeit a year later and 1,300 miles away. The rest is history, as they say.
The pair married in 2018, and when they’re not posting about their travels and life together on their social media, Schueller works as a nurse and Lindsay is a practicing dentist.
Where you choose to eat may depend on which part of Cinque Terre you find yourself exploring! Since there are 5 towns spread throughout this picturesque region of the Italian Riviera, you’ll have plenty of cute restaurants to choose from. The only way to get from one town to another is by train or hiking, so a little planning is needed in advance. Starting in Rio Maggiore, try a Fritto Misto at Il Pescato Cucinato. These mixed paper cups are full of tasty fried fish, shellfish and vegetables. You’ll find them available up and down the coast. Grab dinner at Osteria La Torpedine. In Manarola, make a reservation at Trattoria dal Billy for more incredible fresh seafood. Corniglia favorites include Ristorante La Posada and A Cantina de Mananan. Along our hike to Vernazza, we stopped at Ristorante La Torre for lunch and were impressed with not only the pesto, but also the glorious view of the town. Lastly, Monterosso al Mare holds the most options to choose from, though I recommend Emy’s Way and San Martino Gastronomia.
This is a difficult question because it all depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for in Cinque Terre. Most people take day trips to the region by train, but if you’re like us, you may want to stick around for a bit longer to explore. There are not many hotels to choose from, so by far the most popular option is to rent an Airbnb or VRBO apartment. Places book up well in advance amongst these tiny towns, so it’s important to book as early as possible. Here’s a quick rundown of each town:
Monterosso Al Mare is the largest and flattest town of Cinque Terre. Stay at Hotel Pasquale along the beach for a real treat. Monterosso isn’t known to be the most beautiful of the towns, but it certainly is the most walkable and easiest to find a place to eat.
Vernazza is the most well known, and arguably the most crowded in Cinque Terre. Tiny corridors zigzag up steep hills full of equally tiny rental apartments. What you trade in some comforts, you'll be rewarded with beautiful views of the sea and the town.
For a more quiet retreat, Corniglia sits high up from the water along a hillside. There’s a long and steep staircase that can be challenging to climb from the train station, but if planning to sit back and relax in this little village, it’s worth it.
Manarola surprised me the most. I’ve heard the least about this part of Cinque Terre yet I found it to be the most beautiful. Cute restaurants, not too crowded, access to the water, and dramatic hillsides full of quaint apartments.
Riomaggiore is a very popular place to stay in the region, and for good reason! There’s quite a few good restaurants to choose from, some stay open later than you’ll find in the other towns, and the view of the town from the jetty is stunning.
Though you won’t find any gay bars in the area, the general vibe of Cinque Terre is accepting and warm. As a highly popular tourist destination, we felt comfortable holding hands on the trails, kissing in public, and we even met with other gay couples traveling through. It’s certainly not a place for large parties or rowdy bars, but what we lacked in LGBTQ+ culture in Cinque Terre, we easily caught up in Milan and Rome afterwards!
A big challenge is to hike between all five of the villages. At almost 9 miles long, it’s an all-day experience. The trails are well maintained, but there are many steep areas of high inclines and declines. Even just hiking between two of the towns, Corniglia to Vernazza, we were exhausted enough to grab lunch and call it a day! Making the trek through at least one of the legs of the trail will absolutely blow your mind. Cinque Terre is beautiful in each of the towns, but it’s nothing compared to the views you will get from the trails above. After you finish your trek, make sure to take some time by the water. Grab a spot on the beach in Monte Rosso and go for a swim! There’s nothing better.
The trails from town to town are known to be full of incredible photo opportunities, but there are a couple spots that stand out. The jetty that extends out from Riomaggiore provides the best view of the town. You’ll see many photographers clammer over the rocks to get the perfect shot. There’s also a famous shot of Vernazza that’s been repeated thousands of times over, but is just as beautiful from photo to photo. Walking down the trail from the northwest side of Vernazza towards Monterosso, around a couple bends about a quarter mile up from the town, there’s a wall and chain-link fence along a cliffside that perfectly faces the cove. You can get the best photo from here.
Besides walking the trail and being blown away by the natural beauty of it all, we ended one of our days in Manarola as the shops and restaurants closed down. The sun was setting over the water and we ventured down to the cove where several rock formations jutted out from the surface. I just remember how peaceful it was. We waded in the water and watched others take their turn jumping off the rocks. We got drinks and enjoyed. Really, nothing particularly exciting happened, but I think that’s what visiting Cinque Terre is all about. It’s a place to escape, relax, and simply soak in the joys of Mediterranean life.