Cinque Terre-to see or not to see?

May 21st, 2005, 07:20 AM
  #1  
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Cinque Terre-to see or not to see?

I'm getting conflicting informtion from people about the Cinque Terre. Some say we absolutely have to see it, others say don't bother it's become too touristy and has had all its charm ruined because of that. How do you Fodorites weigh in on this question? And if not Cinque Terre, where on the coast would people recommend? We are thinking of 2, possibly 3 days in that area in the fall of 2006. We would be going there after about 4 days in the Piemonte wine region. We're not overly interested in big cities, more in the quiet yet beautiful little towns and villages and areas where we could walk and cycle. We'd be interested in recommendations for places to stay also, I've picked out a couple of places in Piemonte, but really nothing in the coastal/Italian riviera area. We'd prefer to stay in Bed and Breakfasts.

Thank you Fodorites! I look forward to your input!
goingtoitalia is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 09:52 AM
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Sure, why not. It fits well with a Piedmont itinerary. Try Villa Margherita in Levanto.
bobthenavigator is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 10:27 AM
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"Some say we absolutely have to see it"

Si. See. I also agree with Bob's choice of Villa Margherita in Levanto. We've stayed there twice. Hike (strenuous and non), take a boat ride and hop the train in between towns. Beautiful views. Two or three days is plenty to get a good feel of the area.
maitaitom is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 10:57 AM
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That's 2 positive endorsements for the CT!
I checked out the website for Villa Margherita, it looks quite lovely! Thanks for the input.
goingtoitalia is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 11:11 AM
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goingtoitalia,

Just a little more info on Villa Margherita. The rooms are nothing fancy, but they are clean, and the price is better than a lot of places in the area. They serve a nice, little breakfast and there is a garden where you can bring some wine and cheese after a long day of hiking.

Federico (owner) is a nice guy who can give you shortcut to the train satation and other info (he helped us on our first vist when Lufthansa decided to send our luggage to some other country rather than to Italy), but he can be a little flaky when you try and reach him at the hotel. Be persistent, and make sure he emails or faxes you a confirmation.

Levanto is a good base with some good restaurants and a few interesting sights. Not as touristy as places like Monterrosso and Vernazza. Vernazza is a good town for dinner (pretty harbor with lots of colorful boats), but remember the last train back to Levanto leaves at 10:59 (check for latest schedule).

Walk between Riomaggiore and Manorala is easy. Walk between Manarola and Corniglia is easy until you reach the one million steps up to Corniglia (we did it, anyway). Walks between Corniglia and Vernazza along with Vernazza and Monterrosso are more strenuous.

If you don't want to take a full walk from Vernazza, but want some spectacular views, walk up toward Monterrosso and you get some incredible views of the harbor and boats. Go from Vernazza in direction of Corniglia, after about 15 minutes look back and see Vernazza town jutting out toward the sea.

If you can't tell, I like the CT, but unfortunately will bypass it on my Fall trip. So much Italia, so little time.
maitaitom is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Definitely worth it. The fall will not be a bad time in terms of overcrowding.
Edward2005 is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 02:39 PM
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I can tell you are CT fans! Does anyone know the room rates for Villa Margherita? I looked at their website, but there were no rates given.

Is it easier to travel the CT towns by train or by car? We will have a rental but would definitely take the train if it's easier.
goingtoitalia is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 03:01 PM
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A couple of years ago, the rate was 85 euros a night. I believe I have seen some posts that it is now at least 100.

Park your car at Villa Margherita and take the trains. No need to drive anywhere. You can walk anywhere in Levanto, and the trains, your legs and boats will transport around the CT.
maitaitom is offline  
May 21st, 2005, 06:19 PM
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thank you for the rate information!
goingtoitalia is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 01:45 AM
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One thing you might not realise is that Levanto is a proper town with traffic etc whereas the 5 CT towns are more like eccentric villages, clinging to the cliffside. You are not allowed to drive in the villages so they have a different feel and are much more picturesque than Levanto. If you are going to visit the CT, stay IN the CT and not in a town outside.
We stayed in Manarola and also in Santa Margherita Ligure, a lovely resort town on the waterfront which is about an hour by train from the CT. I would recommend both places. Portofino is also a short bus ride from SML.
Kay
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May 22nd, 2005, 01:56 AM
  #11  
 
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"Some say we absolutely have to see it, others say don't bother it's become too touristy and has had all its charm ruined because of that."

Unfortunately, the above perfectly describes some of the "Fodorites" who post here.

Fortunately, you've heard from some who have actually been there and enjoyed it. The others (who didn't) were probably hanging out at the Spanish Steps trying to convince themselves that it isn't "crowded with tourists."

By all means, go to the CT and enjoy it for what it is; I don't think you'll regret it.
Intrepid1 is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 02:28 AM
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CT is definitely worthwhile, the towns and views are quite spectactular. If you like walking then its definitely the place to go. However, it does get quite busy and when there's crowds of tourists it can lose its charm. In the fall you should be ok. For the best experience I'd recommend you stay in one of the towns, any of the middle 3 are the quietest, Vernazza, Corniglia or Manarola. There are several excellent B&Bs you can try, they book up early so do start making your inquiries ASAP. You can also try looking into some apts, however many require a 7 night minimum, some don't and some are flexible with shorter stays in the off and shoulder seasons.

In Manarola these are two B&Bs and they also rent apartments:
www.baranin.com
www.torrettas.com/
Also in Manarola here's some more apts:
http://www.mareterra.it/

In Vernazza there's a great B&B, try:
www.giannifranzi.it
or rooms/apts try www.francamaria.com

You can also book hotels, rooms and apts through Arbaspaa, who are a local tour company in CT at:
www.arbaspaa.com
Traveler863 is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 03:58 AM
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We just spent three days in CT this April as part of our trip. It was really relaxing and beautiful. We stayed in Monterosso and, I know people say that it is touristy but we did not feel that way. The lemon trees were full of fragrant fruit and beautiful. We walked on the beach and hiked some of the trails, and it was very peaceful.

Our hotel was Villa Steno, 130 euro per night for a room with a terrace and view. We really enjoyed sitting on the terrace at night with a bottle of wine. Also, you must eat at Gambero Rosso in Vernazza. The best meals of our trip.
motor_city_girl is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 06:02 AM
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After all these recommendations it looks like we'll be going to CT! Now I just have to decide on where to stay, there seems to be an even split of staying just outside of the villages or staying right in one of the villages. Decisions, decisions!!!!!

Thanks for all the input! One more question...what is the weather like in CT in middle to late September?
goingtoitalia is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 10:00 AM
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I would say that if you (like me) enjoy hiking, swimming, kayaking, or just relaxing along the coast, then you'll love the CT.

The people who disparage the CT, it seems, either need more "attractions" (shopping, musuems, churches), have physical limitations or personal preferences that keep them from doing the outdoor pursuits that are so wonderful in the CT, OR they travel to the towns as day trippers, thus encountering huge crowds in the most popular towns. Stay overnight and stay in Manarola or Corniglia, if you are worried about crowds.
Also, make reservations now-I will be there next week and my first few choices of lodging were booked when I tried in February.
christy1 is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 10:05 AM
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I want to add one more thing about staying overnight. I don't think you ever really get the feel of any place as a day tripper. The towns north of the CT are also beautiful and charming-I can see how this is a difficult choice-but being in the CT for sunrise, sunset (after the day trippers go home and the villages are quieter), getting your morning cappuccino at the same bar, striking up conversations with the produce vendor you've patronized three days in a row-that, to me, makes the experience especially valuable. So if you are MOST interested in the CT, I really think you need to stay there.
christy1 is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 10:13 AM
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A friend was planning a honeymoon in Italy and Greece a few years ago and I happened to see a Rick Steves' segment on CT. I told her about it - they added it in - and they thought it was the best part of the trip.

I'm sure there are lots of folks that have read RS' books - but it still is on my "must see" list. I agree that tourist towns are a different world once the day trippers have departed.
starrsville is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 10:53 AM
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"that Levanto is a proper town with traffic etc whereas the 5 CT towns are more like eccentric villages"

Yes, Levanto has cars. I don't think I'd constitute it as traffic. If you want to stay in a CT town, go for it. This is just an alternative. What I like about Levanto is when I walk to a place for my morning coffee, I step up to the counter with a bunch of Italians, not my neighbor from L.A.

I love walking and seeing the sights in CT. I like staying in Levanto. Either way, you won't go wrong.
maitaitom is offline  
May 22nd, 2005, 10:56 AM
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My son--21---traveled Europe for 1 1/2 months. Cinque Terre was one of his most memorable places
adamsparks is offline  
May 23rd, 2005, 03:16 AM
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topping this thread for the Monday morning Fodorites!
goingtoitalia is offline  

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