Cinque Terre

Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 05:09 AM
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Cinque Terre

We are conflicted. We are travelling in Italy this September and a lot of what we have read on travel message boards, including this one, make us wonder how good a destination the Cinque Terre is. It appears that it is so overrun with tourists, particularly Rick Steve disciples, that little of the original ambiance remains. Our current plans have us spending three days in the Cinque Terre making Manarola our base. Should we keep this plan or make somewhere like Levanto our base and make surgical strikes into the Cinque Terre proper via train or ferry (we do not intend to hike the trail except form Manarola to Riamaggiore)?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 06:02 AM
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We visited the Cinque Terre in May 2002. I didn't find it as crowded as some other parts of Italy. Tourists don't really bother me. I find that if a lot of people go to a place it is usually for good reason. The little towns of the Cinque Terre are charming. I'd go back tomorrow. We stayed in Portovenere which is about a 30 minute boat ride to the first Cinque Terre town. Portovenere was a little gem itself. We only did the easy walk betwee two of the towns and just sailed between the others. I'd love to go back some day and walk all the trails. Also the pesto and the seafood were wonderful. Go and have a great time.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 06:02 AM
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My husband and I spent three nights in Monterosso last month and I couldn't have been happier. Yes the towns got a bit crowded during the day, but that was because of daytrippers. Becoming a daytripper yourself isn't going to solve that problem. However, at night they all left and the town became peaceful and charming. I do think three full days might be a bit too much if you're not planning on doing the full hike. We arrived in the evening, spent the next day hiking, spent the day after that relaxing on the beach, and left early the next morning. I felt like that was enough time there.

As far as which town to stay in, I think Monterosso was perfect for us because it had a few (and I mean two or so) bars to hang out in at night and a nice beach. We had dinner one evening in Vernazza and while it is pretty, it did feel a little more crowded than Monterosso. If you want a quiet town and a good beach isn't a priority, I'd recommend Corniglia.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:02 AM
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My wife and I spent 3 nights in Monterosso last May. Winderful -- highly recommended. Perhaps it gets more crowded in the summer, but May was just fine. September should be about the same. Lots of travellers, yes, but not too crowded. You can buy a one-day unlimited trip train pass good for all 5 towns (plus one at either end) for about 8 Euros).

I recommend you go for it.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:22 AM
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Agree with the above. Most of the folks who complain about the CT are the ones who train directly to Vernazza (the Rick Steve's HQ) on a day trip. You'll be very happy in Manarola - it will be very quiet at night. If you're concerned it will be too quiet, choose Monterosso.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:24 AM
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I am a huge fan of the Cinque Terre, having visited 4 times - 2001, 2002, 2004, and most recently May of 2005.

Yes, it does get overrun by tourists in the summer. In my opinion, Vernazza gets the most overrun - it gets as many tourists as Monterosso but is much smaller so it feels more crowded.

That said, the CT is a beautiful and unique area and is well worth at least 2 days. Do the hike between the 5 villages, stopping in each for a while to explore and soak in the subtle differences in ambience. The hike is strenuous (esp. from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia), so if you are not in good shape you might want to do part of it on one day and the rest on another day.

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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:25 AM
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P.S. The "old town" of Monterosso still retains much of its old world charm. Hotel Villa Steno is a favorite place to stay for us.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 02:35 PM
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Please don't change your plans. Just stayed at Villa Steno in April and love it and the other towns.

Do eat at Gambero Rosso in Vernazza!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2005, 10:39 PM
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I must have missed something...I don't think the CT is all that it is made out to be. Rick steves almost makes it a holy place. I've seen it and that will do for me and my husband. It is lovely and charming but so is most of Italy. IMHO one day is plenty and move on to somewhere else less crowded and perhaps undiscovered.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 09:56 PM
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I stayed in Manarola from June 14 - June 17 and didn't find the CT crowded much at all, especially before 11 am and after 4 pm. The path from Manarola to Riomaggiore is basically 5 feet wide and paved, so it's more a stroll than a hike, and it can get crowded because of how easy it is to navigate. However, hiking to some of the other towns is not so easy. I thought I was in relatively good shape, but I found my hike from Manarola to Corniglia via Volastra (the coastal path between Manarola to Corniglia was closed) to be so difficult that I practically kissed the ground in Corniglia when we arrived (and the only guide I could find in the CT that mentioned that hike listed it as "easy.") I spent my other full day in CT sunning on the rocks at Vernazza instead and lunching in Monterosso (getting there by train)returning to Manarola by ferry, rather than hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza or Vernazza to Monterosso. I admit to being disappointed in myself that I found the hiking too strenuous, but I'm not a hiker or distance walker at home (more a Pilates/stationary bike rider) and I think you need to be to do the more strenuous parts of the CT hikes.
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Old Jul 4th, 2005, 07:19 AM
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Hi B,

We visited Cinque Terre 5 years ago in mid-May. As another option for you, we stayed in Santa Margherita Ligure and loved it! From there we took the train (1 hour) to Riomaggiore and hiked all the way to Vernazza with a lunch stop in Corniglia.

We did find parts of the hike and Vernazza very crowded. It was all beautiful, the villages are charming. We regreted not starting our hike earlier. We started at 10:30 am and it did get very hot and humid for hiking. If I did it over again, I'd be in Riomaggiore and ready to go by 8:30 am. Then stop for lunch along the way.

SML is a wonderful town in its own right. We stayed 3 nights, doing the day trip to Cinque Terre, 1 to Portofino (go early there too). We could have stayed another day.

Buon viaggio!
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