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day 4 and 5 – travel journal – cinque terre,italy

On day 4 we took the train from Florence to Genoa to get close enough to Cinque Terre so that on day 5 we could spend the entire day trekking (maybe) through the five fishing villages.

We woke up early on day 5 to catch a seven a.m. train to Monterosso, which was the suggested first stop by the agent at the train station. The train ride from Genoa to Monterosso costs 6.10Euros per person one way on the regional train, (which meant way too many stops until we reached our destination. So, after two hours on the train experiencing delays and stops, we finally reached Monterosso and got off the train without realizing we had no idea what to do next.

Although I read many tour books and online suggestions on how to get around the five villages, nothing prepared me for adventure we were about to experience.  Thankfully the agent at the train station spoke enough English to explain our choices. Either purchase a day pass for unlimited train/bus rides from one village to the next, or trek from village to village or go down to the pier and purchase a ferry ticket. We opted for the visitor card at 10.00Euro’s each, when we discovered it also covered the entrance to the lover’s lane and came with a map and a train schedule.

From Monterosso, we took the train to Varnazza and within five minutes arrived to village number two (closest to Genoa side). Apparently while we opted for the train, other’s trekked from Monterosso to Varnazza, which according to the train station agent, was the most difficult terrain.

After spending 45 minutes in Varnazza taking pictures, we took the train to Comiglia, the next village over.  From the train station, we discovered there are two ways of getting to the actual village. First option was to climb 362 or so steps to get to the top, and second, which was my preferred option, was to take the bus to the top (the fare is covered with the Cinque Terre day pass). Although the village was colorful, I didn’t particularly care for it much and almost immediately wanted to leave. I guess I didn’t want to miss the bus going down, which ran every 30 or so minutes.

From Comiglia we took the train to Manarola and here is where I spend the majority of my day. It was the most beautiful and picturesque village compared to all the others, I almost didn’t want to leave. We had lunch in a quant restaurant and of course their specialty (well for most of the villages), is any dish made with pesto sauce, any type of seafood pasta, foccassa bread and tiramisu.

After lunch we climbed to a lookout point and sat at a picnic table overlooking the village.  Since Manarola and Riomaggiore (the next or last village closest to La Spezia)  are connected by the much hyped lover’s lane, we decided to forgo the train ride just so we could experience walking down the path. This is where they actually ask to see your ticket or day pass and without it, they do not allow you to pass through the lover’s lane to get to Riomaggiore. Well, here is a hint: take the train if you don’t have a day pass, no one checks them on the train and as for the lover’s lane, it feels more like a fort than anything else. Nothing to write home about.

After spending 30minutes in Riomaggiore, we took the regional train back to Genoa for 6.10Euro per person. The ride took 2.5hours and it was excruciating to say the least.

Here’s a list of my observation
1. Avoid traveling the area when the weather is muggy and hot
2.The area is not recommended for those with health problems
3.Please don’t wear high heels or flip flops – consider a good pair of walking shoes due to the terrain.
4.Be patient as the trains are never on time
5.Carry cash, train depots do not take credit cards nor do buses or boats
6.There are public restrooms located in every train station
7.All five villages have an area you can swim however, there is no place to change so be prepared if you are only spending a day in Cinque Terre or you don’t have a hotel room.
8.The regional train is crowded and occasionally unsafe, so stay awake as much as possible, or be protective of your personal belongings.
9.Muggy and hazy weather is not good for photography so consider the season when traveling to the region, if you are an avid photographer.
10.Be prepared, stairs are steep and difficult to climb or descend.
11.Train hopping is the best way to see the five villages all in one day.

I will say one thing, I am glad I finally got to see Cinque Terre, but I will also say that this is one destination, I will consider checked off of my bucket list.

{photo property of http://www.rawsilkandsaffron.wordpress.com, please do not use without permission}

4 Comments

  1. Good advice! I’ve had a couple of failed attempts to get to the Cinque Terra, but am determined to get there early next year. I have heard about how difficult the walk can be but was not aware of the issues with the train, so thanks for posting!

  2. Pingback: A Mother and Her Two Daughters | Not the Family Business!

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