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Cinque Terre Area Help - Please , Zeppole?

Cinque Terre Area Help - Please , Zeppole?

Oct 4th, 2009, 06:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,999
Cinque Terre Area Help - Please , Zeppole?

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, I'll be traveling to Italy with my wife late next June and we will be based in Florence for 10 days. I expect to do 5 or 6 daytrips with one or two becoming overnights.

At the recommendation of Zeppole, I'm looking into the Cinque Terre area rather than going to Portofino.

The day we would go to Cinque Terre would be after a day in Pisa and mostly Lucca. I expect we'd arrive in La Spezia some time between 7 and 9PM so it seems to make the most sense to sleep in La Spezia.

Now my questions.

Should we plan on leaving La Spezia immediately after breakfast or spend some time there. The idea would be to see scenery/sights rather than museums.

If possible I'd like to make a relatively short stop in Lerici (optional), spend a fair amount of time in Portovenere and go to Riomaggiore. After spending some time in Riomaggiore I think we'd enjoy the walk to Manarola and possibly go to Vernazzo somehow before returning to La Spezia and back to Florence.

In general I think going between towns (Portovenere - Riomaggiore and Manarola to Vernazzo) by boat would be more enjoyable than by train or bus (if bus lines exist).

However, the boat schedule looks quite sparse. Unless the schedule posted is a reduced September schedule, there doesn't appear to be too many ferry rides between towns. Is this correct?

Any ideas would be appreciated.
Myer is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Myer, I don't have time give you a full answer right now, but watch this space. I'll probably be able to answer by Tuesday.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Loved staying in St. Margarita and taking short bus ride to Portofino and train to Cinque Terre.Also can take train to Spieza and boat to varius Cinue Terre towns. Both ways wonderful.
Portofino, enough for an evening.
frenchwow is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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We, too, loved Santa Margherita last fall. We took the very short ferry ride to Portofina for the day.

We also enjoyed staying im Monterosso several years ago.

Byrd is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 11:34 AM
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Myer, I have just returned from both Santa Margharita and the Cinque Terre and IMO the charm of the Cinque is the walking between the villages. I didn't walk between Portovenere and Riomaggiore but did from Riomaggiore to Monterosso over a period of 2 days.

The walk from Santa Margharita to Portofino is lovely and completely on the flat. Portofino is very expensive and looks better from the sea but Santa Margharita is lovely. La Spezia did not do it for me.

I don't think you have time to appreciate the Cinque Terre in the time you have given yourself.
cambe is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 01:42 PM
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Add me to the list of Santa Margherita lovers. I never get tired of going there.
scatcat is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 03:44 PM
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Since we'll be coming from Lucca and then returning to Florence the next day, I'm looking for an alternative to SML/Portofino.

The idea of staying in La Spezia isn't for La Spezia but for the area.

My questions weren't related to whether we should stay in SML or La Spezia but how easy/difficult it is to get around the Portovenere-Cinque Terre area having slept in La Spezia.

I can see wandering around two or three towns and walking between two or three towns. It would also be nice to take a boat/ferry between a few as well.

I think that day could be a very nice change of pace.
Myer is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 12:36 AM
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Myer, You could take the train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore and then walk to Manarola and onto Corniglia. This is a very easy walk and would take about 1 hour plus time spent in the villages. The walk from Corniglia to Vernazzo is more difficult and from Vernazzo to Monterosso the most difficult IMO (going east to west is easier than the other way around). If you don't have time to do the last walk (which, unless you are very fit I don't think you will) you could train from Vernazza to Monterosso and then take the ferry from there to Portovenere and bus back to La Spezia. This will be a long day and you would need to start off early.
cambe is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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Hi Myer,

To deal with your simplest question first:

I think your assumption that you are seeing a reduced ferry schedule in September is correct. I don't know the ferry schedules for that area, but I know that around here (Portofino area) they drop off in September dramatically. But do bear in mind that even in summer, ferry service in le Cinque Terre area will be suspended if the seas are too rough, and that can happen on a sunny day.

If you are arriving in Liguria after dark, you don't miss much by sleeping in La Spezia -- although do bear in mind that La Spezia is a rather large city, and I don't know where most of its hotels are, or if the better ones are by the train station. You might end up having to take a cab. It sounds like you will have done plenty of walking that day!

Were it me, I would at least look into the logistics of staying on the train until you get to Levanto, especially if you are arriving in time to catch the sunset. Levanto is flat, tranquil scenic town right next door that to le Cinque Terre. It also has ferry service to le Cinque Terre but -- best of all -- if you wake up and discover the boats aren't running, you can get on the train and go to Manarola or Riomaggiore and do the flat walk between the two towns. (There are some stairs you must ascend in both towns to do that walk.)

If after your trip to le Cinque Terre you still want to go on to Portovenere, you can take a boat. Or if they aren't running, you can train to La Spezia and switch to a bus for either Portovenere or Lerici. Or just stay on the train back to Firenze if you are fatigued.

If you are a certain kind of travel, the idea of staying in La Spezia has some quirky appeal. It's got a lot of very ugly modern development, and very few tourists go there. But if you have a chance to see a seaside sunset in Liguria -- either by sleeping in Levanto, Portovenere or Lerici (Monterosso al Mare may also have places to sleep that are not big climbs from the train station), I would make a little extra effort to enjoy that.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 03:38 PM
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Last April, my husband and I spent 2 nights in Riomaggiore as a base for the Cinque Terre..we walked to Manarola. It was a great walk..from there, we trained to Vernazza, then back to Riomaggiore for dinner. And the next day we took the train to Monterossa to explore, and then to Corniglia..trains are right in the towns and only about a 4-min. ride from one town to another..very simple.

We stayed at this great little apartment we found on this website: acasa5terre.com They couldn't have been more helpful..we stayed at Pamela 1 and it was so cozy..a great little balcony overlooking the small harbor..we could people watch and the sunsets were to die for..there are pictures of this and other properties on the website..

Good luck..I loved the Cinque Terre!!!!!!
PamConlan is offline  
Oct 6th, 2009, 06:34 AM
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Thanks. This is good info.

I'm trying not to focus in on a definite plan as that tends to exclude other ideas.

I'm starting to like the idea of staying somewhere other than La Spezia. I originally selected that as a convenient place with a train station.

Riomaggiore or other would work.

The problem I'm having now is moving Portovenere from being first on the "go to" list to the optional list.

Should Levanto be added to the list?

Which of the towns is the largest (or keep us occupied the longest). That would be a tempting place to sleep and start the next day.

Riomaggiore looks interesting. Closest to Lucca. Some substance (?). Spend some time after breakfast. Start of the walk (easy) bewteen towns.

Since scenery and wandering around towns would be the plan, Riomaggiore, Manarola (walk) and Vernazza (train). Then possibly Portovenere and back to La Spezia to train back to Florence.

The weak part with uncertainty seems to be Portovenere. Getting there and then to La Spezia.
Myer is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 09:36 AM
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You might check out the websites of some hotels in Portovenere to see if the have instructions in English about how to get there. I would want to know how often the bus runs, how LATE it runs, how long it takes. And I would want to know the approximate cost of a taxi in case your train arrives later than the last bus.

Otherwise, Levanto is the safer bet in terms of transportation because you can get there by train.

Both Portovenere and Levanto are historic Ligurian fishing towns with historic, lovely churches. Both are bigger towns than any of the villages of le Cinque Terre. Levanto is flat and Portovenere climbs up a hill -- although you can see the church without climbing. Byron and Shelley legends color the tourism in Portovenere.

To me, if your main objective for this jaunt is to experience le Cinque Terre, staying overnight in Riomaggiore makes a lot of sense. There is an elevator in Riomaggiore if climbing is an exceptional problem, but before booking a hotel, make sure you know how many steps you will need to climb to get there from the train station.
zeppole is offline  

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