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Micheled Jul 26th, 2010 11:21 AM

cinque terre
I will be spending 10 days in Italy this October. We are thinking of spending the first 5 days in Rome, then traveling to Florence for the remaining time. Is hiking through Cinque Terre a worthwhile experience? Looking to see something other than a big city every day.

bellini Jul 26th, 2010 11:25 AM

The Cinque Terre is not exactly on the doorstep for Florence. If you want some down-time (and after 5 days in Rome you will!) then I'd suggest a couple of days in Lucca- a beautiful little Tuscan town. It's surrounded by thick walls on which you can cycle! Has excellent restaurants and lovely walks through quiet streets and squares. (about 1-1/5 hours from Florence by car or accessible by train also via Pisa)

k9korps Jul 26th, 2010 12:12 PM

I'm a little confused by your description of your itinerary. Do you mean you're going to break up your stay in Florence and hop over to CT for a day of hiking? If so, that doesn't seem reasonable to me.

You'll be in for a fairly long round trip by train (requiring a change in Pisa).

dani007 Jul 26th, 2010 12:20 PM

well, it's true Lucca is a very nice town to visit. but a day is quite enough, you can also visit san gimignano, a superb tuscan village close to florence.
anyway, it all depends on your preferences, the "cinque terre" are small fishing villages on the mediterranean coast. i would say that is worth visiting these lovely villages.

zeppole Jul 26th, 2010 12:36 PM


The weather and the clock changes during the month of October. Nice weather and long daylight hours are in the beginning, and it goes the other way as the days progress.

If you don't mind my saying so, polling people who post of Fodor's about how you should spend your time in Italy might really end up spoiling your vacation and costing you money.

You get really mixed opinions on message boards about what's "too far" or "not on your doorstep" and "what is worth it." And people have little basis other than whimsy for what they say. For many people, going to le Cinque Terre from Florence is "too lonr" but going to Venice is not -- even though it's about the same travel time.

For many people, le Cinque Terre is the highlight of their trip. For others it's just a "cute" sight they didn't need to cross the Atlantic to see. Besides, almost all the food is fish and vegetables, and the wine is not great -- so some people want a fatty-wine experience.

For me, personally, Lucca is rather boring place, and having been there more than once in the rain -- since there is next to nothing to do in the town except stroll about or ride a bike -- is just irritating. Bellini thinks the town has excellent restaurants, I don't. And although Lucca does not have cars, it is just as big a city as Florence.

I can really appreciate that you want to vary your experience. Perhaps a day trip to Orvieto from Rome-- might be something you'd enjoy. Look up the town.

Maybe you would enjoy the small wine town of Panzano in Chianti -- a bus ride from Florence -- for lunch.

Maybe you should spend 5 days in Siena instead of Florence, and daytrip to Florence as much as you like, but you'd also have time for a day trip to Volterra -- although it would be a long one by bus.

You need to spend more time with the guidebooks. Pick good bases for day trips but leave it open, and only go if the weather is nice (and pick some day trips with lots of indoor things to do as back up. Lucca and le Cinque Terre are not that).

Andrew Jul 26th, 2010 12:43 PM

The Cinque Terre is wonderful - one of my favorite places in Italy. It is most certainly more laid back than the "big city" experiences of Rome and Florence, though you will find plenty of tourists in the Cinque Terre as well. Don't go there expecting untouched villages anymore - though the area is much less spoiled (in my opinion) by tourism than many other places in Italy.

Whether it makes sense for YOU to go there on your trip depends on your itinerary. You're heading up from Rome to Florence and then...? Flying out of where - Milan? Pisa? Some people apparently do Cinque Terre hikes as a day trip, but I personally can't imagine doing that. I had three nights there - I'd want at least two if I were going back. One night would be doable but pushing it just a little, since you might want a long day to hike without the constraints of arriving or departing the same day.

Micheled Jul 26th, 2010 02:16 PM

zeppole, you are funny! It certainly sounds as if it is all very subjective! I am planning on making Florence a base and doing day trips. for four days and then traveling back to Rome the last night to fly out. I can hike 8 miles through cinque terre, just wondering if it was beautiful and a great experience, (weather permitting). I will look up Orvieto

Andrew Jul 26th, 2010 02:49 PM

Yes, I thought hiking between towns in the Cinque Terre was a beautiful and worthwhile experience, and the villages are adorable. My one picture from all of my Europe trips I have hanging on my wall at home (big 20x30 print) is a shot of Riomaggiore. Everyone who sees it oohs and aahs over it.

zeppole Jul 26th, 2010 03:00 PM

Well, thank you Michaeled. Some people never read my posts with a sense of humor.

You should also consider a travel plan that has you heading directly to Florence. If haven't bought your plane tickets, see if you can fly directly there. Or it is simple to take the train into Rome from Rome's FCO airport, and switch to another train and 90 minutes later, be in Florence.

That way, you can end your trip in Rome, period. Plus, the earlier you get north, the better your chances of enjoying nicer weather - but no guarantees.

There are so many beautiful places and experiences, it would be silly to say we all know which are worthwhile for you and which are not. If you read a few trip reports, you'll see that people fell in love with towns so tiny I'm surprised they could find them, and it was the best part of their trip.

I know Andrew likes Parma -- so do I -- and it can make a good day trip from Florence if it is raining. (Bit shorter than le Cinque Terre). You may go home talking about nothing but Rome as the most atmospheric place on the planet, and though those "breaks" you took were "eh."

But actually, more things in Italy are wonderful and fascinating than not -- which is the real reason it is so hard to help you pick only 3.

franco Jul 26th, 2010 03:34 PM

zeppole, may I suggest something re Lucca? Please stop bashing Lucca restaurants as long as you haven't tried the two I recommended you. I swear you will change your mind about eating in Lucca!

zeppole Jul 26th, 2010 04:24 PM

I'm not BASHING them!

I was illustrating how useless people's differences of opinion are -- including mine!

I can't wait to change my mind about eating in Lucca. (Do they have take out -- like to Liguria?)

franco Jul 26th, 2010 04:37 PM

I suggest to give them a try - just call and ask! ;)

salsac Jul 26th, 2010 04:43 PM

We have traveled in this area and my favorite spot was Volterra. It is a lovely hill town that is very easy to walk about, but interesting enough for at least one full day. I have not been to Lucca, but plan to see it on a visit this fall. I imagine it is worth a day, too.

ParrotMom Jul 26th, 2010 05:45 PM

Somebody suggested Orvieto and I must tell you it is a magnificent village.. Yes, we hiked Cinque Terre too Perhaps it was because it was November but we didn't feel that Cinque Terra was touristy at all..Ah, Orvieto... on a Sunday in October..the magnificent church, a religious revival held outside, the colorful shops, the flea market, the market next to the church..we had lunch there.. lamb..the name of the restaurant escapes me..There are moments in your life and traveling.. that i shall remember until I die..and standing near the church in Orvieto on a Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005, the crisp and cool air, a place so alive.....Then again...I had one of those moments last year in front of the Trevi Fountain...where at noon it's sheer beauty and sized overwhelmed me to tears.. yes, I'm going back this October to see it lit up..the exact date.. Oct. 16, 2010...

curveball2 Jul 26th, 2010 05:59 PM

Best advice Zeppole gives here is about starting in Florence and ending in Rome. If flights can't be arranged that way, do as he says and take the train from Rome to Florence upon arrival. Both are big cities but Rome is far more intense and better after you have had time to acclimate.

LarryJ Jul 27th, 2010 12:19 AM

Although sometimes overrun with tourists if one had to choose between the C.T. and Lucca the C.T. wins hands down. As one poster said, Lucca is a rather boring town. It lacks the beautiful hills and countryside that one expects of Tuscany. It is not lacking for clothing and jewelery stores though as it has all the European chain stores located in the converted medieval buildings. Not to be argumentative but Lucca is a much much smaller city than Florence. It is a town of 84,000 while Florence is a big city of 368,000 in a metropolitan area of 1.5 million.

If you do the C.T. on a week-end in October be sure to have a hotel reservation as locals overrun the area to go hiking this time of year.

Larry J

kfusto Jul 27th, 2010 01:56 AM

The C.T. was one of the most disappointing areas of Italy for me personally, after 18 trips there over 30 years. It was completely overrun with tourists and we left far earlier than we planned. I would never go back.

We did very much enjoy the views of the C.T. from the water, however, as the natural beauty is indisputable. We just really preferred it from a distance.

dani007 Jul 27th, 2010 05:32 AM

You were just criticizing everybody, and you were doing worse.
this is the silliest thing I've ever read!!!!
And how do you know that people have little basis of what they're saying?\
try to understand that this forum is about exchanging opinions and experiences that would be helpful for the inquierer.
how about your little basis and whimsy on what you're saying about the restaurants in Lucca. Lucca is very well known for its exquisite cuisine and restaurants.

zeppole Jul 27th, 2010 06:05 AM

I really hate to bring out the nuclear weapons here, but dani007 escalated to personal attack, which I had not done at all in my posts.

People can read this article in the New York Times to find a discussion of Lucca and its restaurant scene.


Dani007 is welcome to put his or her basis for her opinion up against that and let the readers choose.

But the point of my posts thus far -- a point which dani007 missed -- is that the "experiences" and "opinions" of other Fodor's posters are so idiosyncratic when it comes to Italian travel -- mine included -- that the person asking really should think twice before committing their own time and travel dollars based on this kind of message board information. There isn't an objective or uncontroversial answer to the question Michaeled posted -- as all the posts in this thread prove -- and no amount of huffing and puffing from a Fodorite will change that.

zeppole Jul 27th, 2010 06:11 AM

ooops! I shouldn't have called dani007 a "fodorite". He or she only joined Fodor's this month and this was his or her 3rd post.

dani007, maybe after you've had more experience of Fodor's you'll have some basis for your opinions of what the boards are in reality.

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