Genoa and Cinque Terre

Old Sep 11th, 2017, 09:58 PM
  #1  
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Genoa and Cinque Terre

I would appreciate some advice about traveling to Cinque Terre from Nice, where we will be spending a few days in May 2018. If we take a train to Genoa (about 4-5 hours), I’m wondering if we should overnight and sightsee the next day in Genoa, or head straight to one of the coastal villages where we will be staying for two nights. I have heard conflicting opinions about Genoa and don’t know whether to allocate time there en route to CT and/or on the way back when we catch a train from Genoa to Milan. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 04:03 AM
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In addition to breaking up the long train ride, there might be 2 reasons visiting Genoa after Nice would appeal to you. (1) Although Genoa is more steeply & dramatically set against the mountains, and its unrenovated medieval center is more dramatic as well, both cities used to be Italian (Nizza). So you might find it interesting to see how very different the two cities now are in personality. (2) Another reason you might want to visit Genova is that you are very interested in all-things maritime, because Genova was one of the world's great port cities, from the Crusades forward, and even today it sails ships all around the globe. So if that kind of history interests you, Genova is interesting.

However, if busy city life & museums are not the thing you are most looking for on the Riviera, you can also break up the trip with a stop in either the charming Italian small town of Albenga, which has a unique medieval center that is easy to see in less than an afternoon. Or if you prefer just a beautiful colorful town with a beautiful view & a nice seafood dinner, you can go to Cervo or Finale Ligure. These towns have very few tourists so that is also a plus. They also have excellent food.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 05:01 AM
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Direct trains from Nice to Genoa are more like three hours. (I took the Thello train in the other direction in May.) Some people do seem to love Genoa. I spent only an afternoon there. The old town area has some charm and a lot of history, but outside of that area, Genoa feels sprawling and busy and a little ugly in spots. I'm not sure what your interests are, but personally, with only two other nights in the riviera, I'd spend only a few hours in Genoa and head south for one more night in a smaller riviera town.

I've been to the Cinque Terre a few times and liked it very much, though the towns are crowded with tourists even in May. This last May, I spent three nights in Camogli (about a half hour south of Genoa by train) and loved it: very quiet compared to the Cinque Terre towns, at least in May. (Seems to get a lot of Italian tourists in the summer months.) There are other lovely towns on the riviera if you want to spend a third night somewhere besides the Cinque Terre.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 07:09 AM
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I visited Genoa last spring after several times bypassing it because I wasn't sure I'd like it and so it wasn't a priority (like a trip where I went from Nice - changed trains in Genoa - and on to Rapallo and the CT). Well I really like Genoa, I only did a day trip there (from Milan) but plan to return. I wrote about it in my blog - http://andiamo.zenfolio.com/blog There are also lots of photos.

But the trip is only about 3 hours from Nice, then if you continued down the coast another hour or so depending on where you are going. So you could either do it for a night on the way, or do it as a day trip.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 10:58 AM
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Actually, Nice/Nizza was never a part of Italy. It was part of the Duchy of Savoy, whose ruler was also King of Sardinia. Savoy was partly in what is now France, partly in Switzerland, and partly in Italy. It was an independent country, although it had once been part of France, for about 20 years after the French Revolution.

The Savoy king, Vittorio Emanuele, was offered the rule over a united Kingdom of Italy, by the Italian patriots fighting to unite Italy (in the 1860s). Negotiations between France and Savoy resulted in ceding the French-speaking part of the Duchy to France, and a plebiscite was held in Nice to decide to which country it would belong. Nice decided for France. (I'm not sure how Switzerland got its piece of Savoy.)

So Nice became French when Italy wasn't yet a country.

The prevalent language spoken in Nice at that time was a dialect of Occitan, which is similar to Italian, especially the Ligurian dialect, but with a strong resemblance also to French, especially the dialect of Provence. There was a sizable Italian community in Nice as well.

The Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi was from Nice, and it's said he was heartbroken when Nice decided for France.

The Italian regions of Piemonte and Val d'Aosta were parts of Savoy. There is still a French-speaking part of Val d'Aosta. Torino was the capital of Savoy, and there are numerous Savoy historic residences there.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 11:09 AM
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I'd rather spend a couple of days in Genova than in the Cinque Terre. I spent several weeks there because of work a few years ago, and have since been back a couple of times. I just loved walking around looking at the buildings. I also enjoyed walking along Corso Italia until Boccadasse, and the food.

But there are things that could be improved and I can see why some people avoid it. The very narrow alleys in the old centre have been allowed to decay in a way that's very sad and frustrating. It's not just that some buildings are unkept and full of graffiti, the ambiance is not too nice. Prostitutes and people selling fake bags. But I did notice an improvement the last time I was there and of course Cinque Terre can be terrible too and probably more so, depending on the time of the year. The alleys are also a small part of the city.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 11:39 AM
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I have spent a few days in Genoa a couple of times and loved it - especially the myriad of tiny lanes near the old port - that said one full day would be enough for many - yes Thello trains are faster than Trenitalia trains because Thello goes right from Nice to Genoa -other connections require a change of trains at Ventimiglia, border station with France so try to Thello (www.thello.com) - they also have some very cheap discounted fares if you book far enough in advance to get.

You can take Regional trains Genoa to all Cinque Terre villages - just buy those tickets once at station - no need and reasons not to pre-book- flat fare dirt cheap - no seat reservations even possible-just jump on (after validating your own ticket)- for more on Italian trains: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 01:09 PM
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I haven't been to Genoa yet (going the end of this month for 3 nights and 2 full days). Every guide book I've seen, and I've read at least four or five of them, recommends Genoa for at least several days. We'll see. I'll try to update after I've been there.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 01:13 PM
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Disagree totally with the notion that Nizza was not politically & culturally Italian before becoming officially French. Anyone interested can read this. It's authoritative. (Not going to continue to argue the point)

http://www.ishlt.org/ContentDocument..._EdCorner.html
massimop is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 03:07 PM
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Whether Nizza or Nice was or not Italian is irrelevant to OP's question.

The alleys are also a small part of the city.>

But so so neat - like an Italian kasbah - it's the one thing I remember vividly about Genoa
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 03:39 PM
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Wow! How kind of all of you to provide such detailed advice. Thank you all. Our trip isn't until May but I do plan to write a trip report. Andrew, thanks for your suggestion about Camogli. Can you recommend the hotel where you stayed?
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 04:10 PM
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Camogli would be a great base for Cinque Terre for sure - more normal city and freqeunt trains to all 5 Lands.

We day tripped in from Santa Margharita Ligure, about an hour south of CT and hiked the 7-miles footpaths between towns. And also famous Portofino was just a short hike or boat ride away.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 04:44 PM
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I've stayed in both Camogli and Rapallo and think either of them make a great base. I don't remember the hotel I stayed in Camogli but in Rapallo I stayed in Hotel Italia which is right next to the adorable castle that juts out into the sea. Great hotel, wonderful breakfast, amazing views. Photo of the hotel is in the second pic of this gallery: http://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p946045812
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 08:06 PM
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stricky, I stayed at the Hotel Casmona in Camogli. It's a modest, fairly basic but comfortable hotel in an excellent location right above the beach; I had a view of the beach and the sun setting every night right into the ocean! (I got the idea that all the rooms have views like this; I didn't pay extra for it.) The Casmona is quick walk from the train station. I would definitely stay there again.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 09:19 PM
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I don't think Camogli is a good "base" for seeing le Cinque Terre in May. If you want to you can take the train, but you will find yourself in the thick of the daytripper crowd. If the point of going to le Cinque Terre is to hike, it's a roll of the dice as to whether it might already be unpleasantly hot for mid-day hiking. If you are just going down for lunch and a look-see, fine.

I would choose one or the other. And if the choice is le Cinque Terre, I would break up the trip by stopping before Genoa, not an hour's train ride after it.

-- Also, saying that the "alleys of Genoa are a small part of the city" is like saying "the Renaissance buildings in Florence are a small part of the city." The unrenovated medieval center of Genova is THE LARGEST of its kind in all of EUROPE. Or course there is a lot of post-medieval construction beyond the medieval core, but that is true of nearly every Italian city one would visit: Rome, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Lucca, Pisa.... etc. In addition, Genova is an important port (it is the port of Switzerland.) If you just go to the train station & the port, (which a lot of people do), and poke your head into the alleys, you will have quite a misleading impression of Genoa.
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 12:40 AM
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I visited Genoa for a short day in late September 2015, a perfect day weather-wise, which in no doubt contributed to the utter success of that short visit.

I was astounded by the look of Via Garibaldi. Then the alleys, a few steps away. I'd deliberately avoided the port area, to give myself a first view of it in a future visit with more time to allow the town.

I can say that for me there's nothing like being in a large less-touristy Italian town that also has plenty to see. I absolutely love the atmosphere in such places. Also I found the food displays very tempting, far more so than anything I had previously saw in smaller towns in Liguria.

So I'm going back for several days next month, making it my base also for rainy days should there be some, lots of things to see indoors. There are enough museums and churches to keep me busy and also walking and hiking options abound in the whole area, a short train ride from Genoa.

That said, a stop in Albenga, Finale Ligure or Varazze is a good idea, too. It's been 2 years since I first visited Liguria and I'm coming back for more next month for my 3rd visit now. I can't get myself away from this place...fabulous on all accounts. Just sitting on a rock enjoying the sea view, walking along beautiful promenades (like the one in Varazze) with a gorgeous view, enjoying gelato in the evenings, hiking the hills. Priceless.
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 07:32 AM
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Yes Genoa is one of the most underrated Italian cities - do give it a few days to ferret out its joys like massimop and others describe.
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