la spezia vs. levanto

Old May 21st, 2015, 06:31 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
la spezia vs. levanto

Which would be better (or how to compare) for 1 night to see cinque Terre - la spezia or levanto. Want to pick up rental car and drive to pienza the next day.
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old May 21st, 2015, 08:24 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,428
Levanto is a lot nicer than la Spezia, but I think la spezia is quicker and easier to drive to Pienza on the next day. Check the driving times and if that is not important or not that different then stay in Levanto.
yipper is offline  
Old May 21st, 2015, 08:28 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,510
Levanto doesn't have the same "built into the side of the hill" character as the five villages, but it's still a nice beach town - I've stayed there twice to visit the CT.

You could, of course, stay in Levanto but take the train to La Spezia and pick up the car there.
Andrew is online now  
Old May 22nd, 2015, 07:33 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Levanto !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 08:29 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
Revisiting this...

We are now (still tentatively) planning to drive from Provence (outside Avignon) to CT, arriving in time for dinner and then leaving the next day in time to be outside Florence for dinner (still with rental car).

I'm not finding many nice hotels at all in Levanto or the five villages of Cinque Terre. The nicest ones I did see in Levanto were not that near the water. I'm now thinking about Portovenere (Grand Hotel looks really nice, and great location), though I realize that adds more (too many?) logistics. We'd like to take the train between some of the villages, do one hike (~2 hrs) and take a boat at some point. Thoughts?

Are there other places to look for hotels besides hotels.com, booking.com etc? Don't want to bother with Airbnb or similar for just one night.
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 09:11 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,510
When are you going? The busiest time of the season? The B&B I booked last minute in Levanto in September 2011 wasn't on Booking.com at the time, which is maybe why they were available and cheap, but now they have signed up.

You need to be more realistic about your schedule; you have incredibly little time for the things you propose to do, and I don't think you could really do them all. The trains between villages don't come every ten minutes; sometimes you have to wait an hour for the next train, and they are often late, and they will probably be mobbed with tourists. I wouldn't factor in proximity to the water in Levanto - you may not even have time to do much more than an evening stroll along the ocean and, honestly, it's not that quaint of an experience. I'd personally want to be closer to the train station myself. It's easy to walk from there down into town.

I'd also find out which trails are open ahead of time - they can be closed due to slides even last minute.

I'd probably work backward: figure out what time you need to leave Levanto for Florence, then that will set your schedule for the half day you'll have in the Cinque Terre. Plan to do one of the hikes (maybe also Riomaggiore to Manarola, which is super short, barely a hike) and explore a few of the villages. You can pick up the boat schedule but you may not have time to work it in.
Andrew is online now  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 09:27 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
End of April.

Yes, I realize I have a bit of a problem with overscheduling. Maybe we will just do the tiny hike and prioritize the boat. What are your thoughts about Portovenere?
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 09:52 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Portovenere is fabulous!
We have stayed there 3 times and regard the village as our favorite venue on that entire coast. We take the ferry from there to see the CT from the water, and hop on/off at will.

Of course, you must taxi or take the bus into La Spezia, but it is only a :20 ride. You could taxi right to the car office for convenience. Let me know if you want to see pics---I have some good ones.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 11:51 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
Sure! Do you know the Grand Hotel? Where do you stay?
It looks like there is also a 30 min. Boat between portonovere and la spezia? Would there be any benefit in taking the ferry one way and train on the return to la spezia (in terms of scenery)? Or just take ferry both ways ( which would bypass need for transportation from la spezia, come to think of it)?
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 12:31 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,159
Can you widen your search north of the CT? Beyond Levanto? The train runs along the coast north. You'll need a hotel with parking.

Or just stay in Portovenere and enjoy it.
Mimar is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 12:43 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
The GH is fine--great location and views--was badly managed for awhile but better now. I have stayed there twice. Have also stayed at Albergo Paradiso, a nice 3 star.

Here are some pics of the area you may enjoy--look at the first two pages and click on any image to enlarge and select slide show.

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...at=4553&page=1
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 01:08 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
What is your departure point in the Provence, and what would be your "end of April" travel day? (April 25 is an Italian national holiday.) Boats may not be running in the le Cinque Terre area due to unstable (and unpredicatable) spring weather.

If you stay in Portovenere and the boats aren't running due to high winds, then you will have a much more complicated logistics visiting le Cinque Terre than if you stay in le Cinque Terre itself or a town with a train station (Portovenere doesn't have one). If the boats are running, and you stay in Portovenere, I doubt you will want to take the boat both ways. Go there by boat, then take a train to La Spezia to return -- but you will need a taxi or a bus to get back to Portovenere from La Spezia.

If you are driving a rental car, and if you haven't done this already, you should check to see what the drop off fee is going to be for taking it out of France and depositing it in Florence.

It is a non-stop six-hour drive from most areas in Provence to Portovenere. Presumably you will want to take breaks along the way, so in reality you are looking an 8 hour travel day.

Were it me, I would stop sooner in Camogli (check out the Cenobio dei Dogi) for the overnight, and then the next morning, drive to le Cinque Terre if the weather is nice. Take the boat from Monterosso al Mare. Have lunch in one of the towns. Maybe a hike if you have time. Take the short train ride back to Monterosso al Mare and head on to Florence. (Remember that the daylight hours are not terribly long in April)

Finally, if you are going to skip le Cinque Terre, you might as well stay in Camogli rather than go out of your way to Portovenere. Both are nice towns and very similiar, but it is less time consuming to get to Camogli if all you want is a taste of the colorful Italian Riviera inbetween Provence and Firenze.
sandralist is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 01:34 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,189
We love Portovenere too.
On the CT, we stayed at Hotel Porto Roca in Monterosso, very nice, excellent dining too. Beautiful ocean views.Private area of beach for guests. Large parking lot near water in town.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 02:17 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
Thank you for the information and tips! What are the implications of the Italian holiday??

In Provence I am looking at Vaison la Romaine. It seems that multiple country driving is included in fees for autoeurope.com and the costs are reasonable.

What about this boat from Portovenere to CT (although Camogli sounds very smart)? http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti....o.asp?lang=eng
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 02:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...a_Liguria.html

We stayed here. We arrived in Florence and took the train so decided we would stay in La Spezia. We took the ferry one way and the train coming back to hike. We liked the hotel and if you see the steps with the bike under that was our apartment. Four of us rented it for two nights. We walked the town, ate, walked to the harbor and sat by the water in outdoor cafes. Very nice. We decided on that for our early departure back to Florence and it worked out well.
flpab is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 02:46 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 34
Hotel Porto Roca is almost $600/night. So that's out!
Colleen20191 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 03:35 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
The boats only run if the seas are not too choppy due to wind or storms because the harbors are extremely tiny, so the boats can't easily get into them if the seas are very active.. It is just a crap shoot in spring/April whether the day you want to take a boat it will be running. If you stay in a town with a train station or in le Cinque Terre itself, then it is a simple matter to visit all the villages of le Cinque Terre. If you stay in Portovenere and the boats are not running, you either need to drive back north to visit Le Cinque Terre, or take a bus or taxi from Portovenere to La Spezia, and then get on a train from there (and the same to return).

If Camogli is too far north for your taste, than you could look in Sestril Levante to see if you can find a hotel you like if you'd rather not bother with Portovenere.
sandralist is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 06:03 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,720
But Portovenere is so pretty, and has history, and some of the best food I've ever had.

Could you be happy there if you had to take a taxi to the train station in La Spezia to get to the CT if the boats weren't running?
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2015, 06:12 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,618
Bookmarking
Sassafrass is offline  
Old Aug 1st, 2015, 06:34 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
tuscanlifeedit,

Try eating in Sestri Levante some time.

I've truly nothing against Portovenere, and I think you are asking the OP the right question. Personally, I find most of the Italian Riviera towns extremely charming, and the food is my favorite in Italy. But also, personally, I would want to mimimize that drive from Avignon to the Italian Riviera, and thus, would pick a pretty town that is right along the route to Firenze, rather than a dogleg. And I would spend the night north of le Cinque Terre, rather than south -- hence the suggestion of Camogli or Sestri Levante.

Also, what is slightly complicating this quest for the OP is the preference for a 4-star hotel. Otherwise, the thing to do would be to go to le Cinque Terre -- period -- if le Cinque Terre is really what the OP wants to visit. I am shocked that anybody in the 5 villages is charging $600 per night. That is more than a month's rent in most of the Italian Riviera. I can't help but think that for half that, in April, one can have a beautiful stay in an upscale b&b -- but up to the OP.
sandralist is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO