Cinque Terre is a series of 5 small villages perched on steep hills
along the Italian Riviera. The five villages are:
Monterosso al Mare
Cinque Terre is popular with French and Italian's for its distinctive
villages and for hiking on the trails between them. The area is
becoming well known with other nations too, but it is not as accessible as
the better known tourist destinations and that keeps the volume of
visitors down somewhat.
Cinque Terre is a summer tourist destination. Average temperatures peak in July and August at
86 F (30 C), while lows are about 66 F (19 C). From December to February average highs are
54 F (12 C) and average lows are 37 F (3 C). The
rainy season extends from September to December. July has the best
weather, but June may be a better time to visit to avoid the peak tourist
period of July and August.
There is no major airport or road servicing Cinque
Terre. Access is all about the train. Despite Cinque Terre's isolation
and rugged coast line, the train service is frequent and an engineering
feat. Instead of following the cliff edges, the train repeatedly
burrows through the mountain sides. It emerges from tunnels to drop
passengers at the isolated villages. From the south, trains come up
from Pisa through La Spezia. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach
Riomaggiore from Pisa. La Spezia is only 10 minutes south of
Riomaggiore. From the north, trains from Genoa take about 2 hours
to reach Monterosso al Mare. It takes about 20 minutes by train to
cover the entire length of the 5 villages. Refer to the Bahn.de
web site for train schedules.
Consorzio Marittimo Turistico 5 Terre-Golfo dei Poeti operates
seasonal ferry service between the villages and also to various other
towns along the coast, such Portofino.
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Attractions in Cinque Terre:
Things to see and do:
Visit each of the 5 main villages on the Cinque Terre coast
line by train or by walking. Hike the Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail) that connects the five villages.
Some sections require a small fee. Sections may be closed to
due to landslides caused by erosion after rainfalls. Don't
miss the popular Lover's Walk from Riomaggiore to
Manarola. There is a small fee to walk its coastline
pathway. Padlocks are locked together all along the trail, as
a symbol of binding love.
Have dinner at one of the quaint restaurants.
Find local specialty foods for sale in the street
Cinque Terre Visitwith Tim Anderson
We picked up our bags at Gli Arlecchini in Pisa and caught the reserved train to La Spetzia.
The next train was unreserved seating that
stopped at all the Cinque Terre towns.
I thought this would be a slow train
twisting along the mountainous coast, but it was a fast train that spent most of its time in tunnels. So, there weren't many views.
Our stop at Vernazza was a shock. The nearly full train emptied and the people filled the one main street with little room to move.
Not what we expected at all from the quaint little town. It was over run, apparently by a holiday weekend.
accommodation was great,
with a view of the town square, the bell tower and the bay. We immediately headed back on the train to Riomaggiore and then took
the Lover's Walk to Manarola. This too was crowded with people.
There was seldom a break in the continuous string of walkers. At Manarola we picked a restaurant to eat at.
We chose the one with Rick Steves pictured with the owner instead of the one
recommended by Rick Steves' across the path. This was a remarkable and inexpensive meal.
We had tofu pesto, tuna
capriccio and spaghetti with meat sauce. All three of us raved about our meals.
The waiter also scolded us that we should
not tip for meals in Italy. There is separate pricing for seating and no tips.
We then took the train back to Vernazza, hiked
around town a bit and all fell asleep early.
Lovers Walk, Cinque Terre
In the morning it was raining and we determined that we needed to leave right away if we hoped to see
Monterosso al Mare. We retrieved my passport by paying the bill (cash only) and arrived in Monterosso with a 2 hour
window. We found little to do in the rain. We spent our time at a quaint cafe with the balcony right on the oceanfront.
We listened to the rain drops, ate brioche crema and drank cafe latte.
The lattes were amazing. My addiction to European
lattes and pastry was already well established. A thoroughly enjoyable morning in tune with the Italian spirit that dictates
you move slowly and only when completely ready to do so.