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Finding train from Genoa to Cinque Terre and return

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Aug 28th, 2010, 12:38 PM
  #1
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Finding train from Genoa to Cinque Terre and return

I do not speak anything but English and will be in Genoa for a day in September and would like to take the train to Cinque Terre (last village), work my way back and then find the train back to Genoa. How difficult will it be to find the correct train? Are the trains between villages easy to navigate for English speaking only tourists?
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Aug 28th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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You can see schedules on www.bahn.de. The two main stations in Genova are Genova Piazza Principe and Genova Brignole. Regional trains stop at all five Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Some Inter City trains stop at Monterosso.
I'd suggest noting the times and train numbers of the services you want to use, and learning Italian pronounciation so that you can say the place names correctly if you have to ask for help.
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Aug 28th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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I find the Swiss rail site easier to use as you don't have to put in your age, etc. to get it to show schedules. Also, it will show the journey starting at Genoa Principe, the "main" station, as the default starting instead of Genoa Bignole, which is a suburban stop.

For Swiss rail in English, use www.rail.ch

Put in "Genoa" at the start point and "Riomaggiore" as the end, assuming you want to go to the southernmost village and work your way back up.

You'll see that there are routes with one change and routes with no change. If you take an intercity (IC) train, you will have to change to a regional train at some point, as the IC trains do not stop at the Cinque Terre villages. If you board a regional train at Genoa, you won't have to change trains at all, but it may take slightly longer. You will have to know when to get off, as they don't announce those stops. Use the "show intermediate stops" button to see all the stops along the way, and note the last stop before you desired one so you are ready to jump off. They don't stop for long at the Cinque Terre villages. And sometimes the train is long and your car is still in a tunnel, but you still need to get off the train there.

I suggest you print out the schedules of the train you want in each direction, and take that with you. You can buy your ticket from the machines, which display English if you want. Be sure and stamp it to validate it before you board the train.

Once you are in Cinque Terre, at least half the people around you will be English-speakers, and will help you get the right train. You don't have to worry about platforms in the 5 towns, as there is only one track in each direction. Just know which one you want when heading back north.

There is a very good explanation of using the trains between the 5 villages in the Rick Steves book, and maybe on on his website as well.
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Aug 28th, 2010, 06:26 PM
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And if you want it from the horse's mouth, the website of the company that actually runs those trains (Trenitalia) is www.ferroviedellostato.it/homepage_en.html - it might take you a moment to learn the displays and symbols, but it is not rocket science.

If you wish to make an online ticket purchase (not necessary for Genoa-Cinque Terre trains but maybe for other trips), before you do it and enter a credit card on the site, call your bank that issued the card and tell them that you're about to make a purchase from Italy - they have to unblock the security software, otherwise the transaction may not go through (due to it being an unusual and therefore suspect use of your card).
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Aug 28th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Thank you so much for these sites and info.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 05:00 AM
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I too am interested in the trains to Cinque Terre.
Tapping into the good information...thank you
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Aug 29th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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The trouble with the Trenitalia website (and you can get there by going www.trenitalia.com as well) is that it only shows the regional train, not the IC to regional train option. And it shows a confusing list of stations by abbreviation. for example, for the 12:28 departure from Genova, it shows this:

GE BRIG
GE VOLT
GE PRA
GE PEGL
GE SEST
GE CRNI
GE SAMP
GE PP.S
GE STUR
GE QUAR
GE QUIN
GE NERV

All in red below the departure station. True, it's not rocket science, but it's confusing. What I did on our recent trip is use both sites, cross-referencing by train number. The Swiss site did a better job of displaying the intermediate stations in a readable format.

As for purchasing the tickets online from Trenitalia, that is definitely not necessary for regional trains like the Cinque Terre run. also, the website is notorious for rejecting American credit cards, even if one calls the bank first to authorize the charge. apparent Canadians have better luck with their cards. I've never seen an explanation of this, and it doesn't apply to purchasing ticket when you are actually i Italy. Both the ticket machines (which are easy to use) and the agents at the window took our credit card without problem.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Ignore the red station abbreviations, they are the "other" stations and stops in Genova - it's the black that counts. PPS means Piazza Principe Sotterranea - the subterreanean tracks below the station.
It is true that the Italian site doesn't list the backtracking options with the IC to La Spezia and regional train back to Riomaggiore. While that is backtracking, it is still quicker than taking the regional that stops everywhere...
But even if the other sites weren't available, if you look at a map and realize how close R. is to LS, wouldn't you try that option on your own? Input G. to LS then, note the time for the faster through-train, then search for L.S. to R. and - voilà.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 01:36 PM
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I think the reason why Trenitalia doesn't list connections via La Spezia is that you'd have to buy two tickets: Genova to La Spezia and La Spezia to Riomaggiore.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 01:58 PM
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You can also change from some IC trains at Monterosso or Levanto without backtracking.

The Trenitalia site seems to show the simplest and least expensive options, but I always like to see all the choices.
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