Cinque Terre...hidden gems?

Old Nov 4th, 2017, 03:23 PM
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Cinque Terre...hidden gems?

My husband and I want to visit Cinque Terre for 2 days/2 nights but are always looking for the road less traveled. We will be visiting September 2018 and would like to know where to stay in the area that would allow us to hike the Cinque Terre and experience the people, food and wine. I've seen mention of Lerici for a stay instead of the 5 cities that are associated with the area. Or do we want to try to stay at one end farther from the trains and the regular tourists? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated to help us plan this portion and your fav lodging/restaurants as well, Our budget is probably moderate vs. budget or high end -- this is to celebrate a special anniversary.
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Old Nov 4th, 2017, 03:52 PM
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We stayed in Vernazza, which put us right in the middle, and we were able to hike to both ends. This was some time ago, and a recent Rick Steves' show indicated that the towns themselves have not changed....but the crowds have doubled or tripled. Still, it is not an experience to be passed up.

I have no current recommendations for lodging or food except to say that you can hardly go wrong.
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Old Nov 4th, 2017, 07:13 PM
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I enjoyed my stay at La Torretta in Manarola, which still gets very good reviews:
http://www.torrettas.com

I would NOT count on any "hidden gems" in the very, very heavily touristed Cinque Terre.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 01:16 AM
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You can no longer hike between all five towns on the lower trails, which are probably the ones that Bobmrg hiked some years ago. The southern end of these trails, connecting Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, has been closed since 2011 because of the risk of landslides. (You can still visit these three towns, and travel between them by train or boat.) The northern end, connecting Monterosso, Vernazza, and Corniglia, is still open.

It's true that the number of visitors has skyrocketed, especially since a bigger cruise port was constructed at Livorno. On the one hand, it might be more pleasant to stay outside the actual five villages. On the other hand, most of the the visitors are day trippers, and your only hope of having a nice quiet walk on the lower trails is to hit them very early, which might be difficult if you're not staying on the spot.

The higher trails, which involve climbing and good hiking shoes, are not as crowded as the lower trails.

Here is the official trail map of the park:

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/sentieri-outdoor.php

The trails on the map marked in black are closed. On the list of trails at the bottom, there is a red circle in front of the closed trails.

Other than hiking, taking photos, and buying postcards and souvenirs, there's not much to do in these towns. On a rainy day, you'll be limited to the postcards and souvenirs (or staying in a bar or restaurant). With two nights, you really only have one full day, and bits of two others. It takes a long time to get to the Cinque Terre from nearly anywhere else.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 01:46 AM
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bvlenci, please. Not only are the chances of rainy days low in September, there is a train that runs right throgh all 5 towns. It does not take a long time to get someplace else. In fact, it is simpler to get from the le Cinque Terre villages to larger townsin Italy than it is from most countryside locations in Italy. In summer, yes: Travelers to Italy would like to go to the countryside. Even Italians like to go to the countryside. It's not a huge problem to do what you want to do in Italy.


kacollier,

Give a serious look at staying in either Bonassola or Framura, which are just minutes away by train but are definitely the road less traveled.

http://girlinflorence.com/2017/05/08...-cinque-terre/
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 06:06 AM
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I hate to burst your bubble, but 2 days and 2 nights isn't enough time for someone who wants the road less traveled. We just returned from a week long stay in Monterosso.

How old are you and how fit are you? The lesser hiked trails can be more difficult, and we were glad we had real hiking boots and trekking poles.

For us the least interesting part of the CT was the towns themselves. The CT is about doing true walking/trekking. In September they will be heaving with people. We were there in October in a time period where for the most part there weren't cruise ships in port in LaSpezia, the season was starting to wind down, and there were still lots of people.

Two mornings we had rain so we definitely weren't interested in hiking those treacherous trails. We relaxed in our apartment and headed out in the early afternoon to walk.

One day we took the train from Monterosso to Levanto and from there rented bikes to ride to Framura and Bonassolo. Back in Levanto we hiked back to Monterosso. Of those three towns I'd recommend Levanto for a place to stay. BUT, even though the train itself quickly gets you back to the CT, it is probably a good 10-15 minute walk to get to the Levanto train station from the part of town near the sea that I'd want to stay in as a tourist. I wouldn't do it on a 2 night visit.

One day we took the train to Manarola and then the bus to Volastra. From there we hiked down to Corniglia and took the train back to Monterosso.

One day we took the first (9:30 ish) morning ferry out of Mnterosso heading to Portovenere, got off in Riomaggiore to walk around for 45 minutes before getting on the next ferry to Portovenere. Then we transferred to a different ferry for the trip around the three adjacent islands. After that we walked around and explored Portovenere and had a leisurely lunch. Then, it was time to catch the last ferry of the day back to Monterosso. It made for a very enjoyable day.

Another day we took the shuttle bus up from Monterosso to Soviore and then walked back down to Monterosso. Afterwards we walked to the Buranco vineyard in Monterosso for a wine tasting with snacks. It was a lovely place perhaps a 10 minute walk up out of town. The walk in town in Monterosso up to the cemetery is also interesting and many tourists don't do it (or lots of other similar excursions) because it involves climbing.

For our week long stay we were happy we chose Monterosso, but I don't have any hotel to suggest since we stayed in an apartment.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 06:43 AM
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Thank you....You have all given us great information to start planning for the area. The map is wonderful and loved Julie's comment about biking--a favorite activity. Yes, we are very fit and fast travelers. Our friends did this trip last September but felt we wanted more input from the Fodorites. Unfortunately, we rarely stay a week at any destination -- we don't linger much and are always looking for the next adventure. Not young, but young at heart.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 06:54 AM
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julies,

I hate to burst your bubble but 2 days on the Italian Riviera is plenty to take the road less traveled. As you yourself found out, booking yourself in Monterosso, there is very little of interest in the actual villages of le Cinque Terre.

So what's the point of staying in a place one finds not very interesting when there is the opportunity for equally beautiful hikes and bike riding just two train stops away? People who want to get onto the road less traveled aren't necessarcily going to be interested in going to a cruise ship port like Portovenere.

There's no reason to discourage someone from thinking they can have a beautful non-touristy experience of that part of the Riviera -- and even get a peak at le Cinque Terre if they want -- in two days.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 11:05 AM
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I would recommend a boat ride between the villages if you have time. You will get the quintessential view of the Cinque Terre that you can't get from land.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 02:18 PM
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massimop--

Please explain to me how one can be on the road less traveled (hiking the higher trails and those outside of the main towns) and visit adjacent places like Levanto, Framura and Bonassolo in 2 days and 2 nights? A taste yes, but the OP mentions, "hike the Cinque Terre and experience the people, food and wine". The dilemma here is that the regular lower trails are partially/mostly closed. Thus, the need to do more strenuous (and time consuming) hikes.

By the way, did you ever consider the fact unless one is extremely wealthy and can afford to hire a private boat to see the area from the water, the public ferry is the only way to do this? Perhaps it is not the road less traveled, but it certainly is the only reasonably priced way to do this.

And, I don't get your reference to Portovenere as a cruise ship port. Yes, the ferry docks there, and there were smaller shuttle ferry boats we saw going across to the adjacent island. Large cruise liners though can't dock there. We thought it was a nice little town to walk around and visit the church and see the views from the ruined castle.

And, don't get me wrong about Monterosso. We were in the old part and had an apartment with terraces overlooking the harbor (and the train track). It was a fine place to conveniently base ourselves to do the hiking and excursions that interested us. What was of least interest to us about the CT was what most tourists do--aimlessly strolling around the villages with their shops and restaurants. It is the setting the villages are in that is special.
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Old Nov 5th, 2017, 06:46 PM
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<By the way, did you ever consider the fact unless one is extremely wealthy and can afford to hire a private boat to see the area from the water, the public ferry is the only way to do this?>

If you are addressing my 'boat' reference then yes, I should have said 'public ferry' instead. Still doesn't diminish the fantastic view.
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 04:27 AM
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In 1994 we visited three of the five towns and we were the only people on the streets, for the most part. My kids were 13 and 11 and went swimming with some of the local kids in Manarola. The area was quaint with shops selling local items such as bread, pasta, and the like.

We returned in 2013 and only visited Vernazza and Moterossa al Mare and the towns were JAMMED with Italian and American tourists, especially Vernazza. Vernazza was shoulder to shoulder crowded. The quaint shops now sold touristy schlock.

Since the place was so crowded we decided to leave and the station was so jammed we were afraid of being pushed onto the tracks.

If there is a hidden gem in Le Cinque Terre...good luck finding it.

Buon viaggio,
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 04:51 AM
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No michele--actually I was referring to massimop's comment about Portovenere as a cruise ship port. I agree with your point about the boat/ferry trip.
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 05:03 AM
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julies

I suggested to the OP that they stay in Bonassola or Framura rather than in le Cinque Terre, and just do a visit to le Cinque Terre. That will certainly be a different off the beaten track hidden gem experience of the region, and a delightful 48 hours. I never suggested they take a boat.--?

There are cruise ships that dock in Portovenere in September (when the OP is traveling), and when they do, and when other cruise ships are docking as well in La Spezia and Livorno, Portovenere can be as wracked with tourists as le Cinque Terre.

Hope your bubble is burst now!

The OP's original post indicates he/she is quite open to staying in Lerici or somewhere else outside le Cinque Terre and visiiting le Cinque Terre or not. You don't need to have "good luck" to get what the OP is looking for out of going to that area and not being stuck in touristy villages filled with knick knacks and tourists.

It's not bubble thinking. It's outside the bubble thinking. Nothing to burst, and a lot to be gained by asking the question. Don't tell people it doesn't exist. It does, and it's easy to get to, and 48 hours is dreamy fun.
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Old Nov 6th, 2017, 05:12 AM
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kacollier,

I meant to add before that Lerici is a fine choice, especially if you would like a real town, and Tellaro is a true gem if you really prefer a village. Both have some boat access to le Cinque Terre on non-windy days, and getting to le Cinque Terre using land public transportation is possible but more complicated than if you choose Bonassola or Framura.

All these places haven excellent hiking opportunities of their own if the le Cinque Terre trails are closed or sound to crowded for you.
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