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dina4 Oct 25th, 2005 06:27 PM

Need base for cinque terre
Would anyone recommend staying in Santa Margharita or Portovenere INSTEAD of Monterosso to explore the cinque terre? (or is that really dumb!?) We have 2 nights, want to see the villages, take a boat or 2, hike, eat good food, etc. We also want a charming hotel--not luxurious necessarily, but also not too plain/basic. We could spend about 250 euro/night for family of 4. (I had orignally chose Monterosso as a base becuase our teens enjoy the beach so much, and I heard it was the only "sandy" beach.) We also have a car.
Thanks for any advice!

tuscanlifeedit Oct 25th, 2005 06:36 PM

If you want to explore the CT, then that is the place to stay. Monterosso is nice, but I have only stayed at the Porta Roca and can't recommend anything else. I thought it was swell, but prices might be higher for four, and in high season, they insist on three nights minimum.

chevre Oct 25th, 2005 06:50 PM

I would recommend staying in one of the towns of the Cinque Terre if you only have 2 days. Monterosso does have a large beach, but it is not the "village" that the other 3 towns are. Vernazza would probably be the best bet with teenagers. There is a bit of beach there, though nothing like Monterosso. Santa Margharita is a wonderful town. It has a great beach, its probably the size of Monterosso but has a different feel. It would be difficult to see the villages if you stayed there with only 2 nights though. I really love Vernazza, there are many who feel it has become too American because so many guide books recommend it, particularly Mr. Steves. Personally that doesn't bother me. Tourists are going to be everywhere in the Summer, and oddly those tourists are often from a different country! In the case of Vernazza that happens to be the U.S. Thought there will be Americans, the town remains truly Italian. You won't find a Big Mac anywhere.

leuk Oct 25th, 2005 06:58 PM

Everything is really close by train. Just buy the train pass and off you go. Just make sure you check the schedule. Not all trains stop in all towns. Staying in Monterosso is OK. Another option is staying in Levanto. It's a little bigger and only a couple of minutes from Monterosso. There are a lot more amenities in Levanto than in the "5 towns" We know some people who just came back from Italy and loved the markets and restaurants etc in Levanto. Because it's not in the actual Cinque Terre, you may be able to get a better room rate. AT 250 Euros a night... you'll be staying in a palace.

azure0327 Oct 25th, 2005 07:02 PM

If you only have two days and are looking for a place with a sandy beach, Monterosso is the only choice in the Cinque Terre. I stayed at the Albergo degli Amici in the "old" part of Monterosso - it is a clean, affordable hotel choice. No seaview, but it is located next to a residential area so it is very quiet and not far from the beach.
Monterosso is not the prettiest town in CT (Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore are the most quaint/picturesque) but it is a good base to explore the area and has the most convenient transportation options (train and boat). Portovenere and Santa Margherita are definitely worth visiting if you have the time.
The food in that region is some of the best I had in Italy. Enjoy!

Mincepie Oct 25th, 2005 08:04 PM

Porto Rocca hotel is nentioned has a beach. However, we always stay in Portovenere at Hotel Sporting. Great can start hikes from there and boat service is great to the other villages.

stickyrock Oct 25th, 2005 09:29 PM

Definitely refer to Rick Steves Book.

auntieapple Oct 25th, 2005 10:15 PM

I highly recommend Monterosso for teens, which worked for our family of 4 with two teens. Perfect town with enough action to keep them interested, yet safe enough to let them go exploring on their own and allowing the parents some quality time. Good beach with boats that they can rent to explore the coastline. We stayed at the Hotel Pasquale, right on the waterfront, in their "family room" that is an interconnecting

auntieapple Oct 25th, 2005 10:18 PM with a double in one room and singles in the other room, connected by a large (by Italy standards) bath. Perfect. My younger teen still talks about the fun we had at the CT.

BellaVita Oct 26th, 2005 01:01 AM

Considering the Cinque Terre is my backyard, I think I can help you here! I would highly reccommend either Portovenere or my hometown of Lerici. (Santa Marg. is just too far norht in my opinion.) I don't reccommend actually staying in the CT as it can get very crowded by day and the accommodation selection is limited. In PV, try the Grand Hotel (it's thebest but needs a little revamping). In Lerici, try:
Let me know if you need more help!

bobthenavigator Oct 26th, 2005 05:53 AM

I agree with Megan that the GH Portovenere would be a good choice. The village is charming and the ferry boats leave from there to access all of the CT.

givemeaticket Oct 26th, 2005 08:01 AM

We stayed in Levanto as it is easy access to Cinque Terre (on the hiking trail), is big enough to get food in and is close enough to both Cinque Terre, Santa Marg and Portofino. You can also sit on the beach there if you wish.

zootsi Oct 26th, 2005 09:04 AM

I will also recommend Levanto - it's only a 5 minute train ride, or beautiful 2 hour hike, to Monterosso. Levanto has a large beach, lots of hotels and restaurants, and even a small casino.

dina4 Oct 26th, 2005 03:27 PM

Thanks, everybody for the good advice. I am looking into all the different options.
I do have a reservation at Villa Steno, which doesn't seem to have 1 bad review on any forum. Villa Pasqual was booked.Porto Roca seems to have a lot of mixed reviews.
I am still going to check out Levanto. Lerici, or Portovenere, but I'm not sure what the advantages are to NOT staying in Monterosso. If it's too crowded during the day in the C5, then isn't it GOOD to stay there in order to experience the non-crowded/local time--the early morning and evening? Otherwise, we're just day-tripping in and will only experience the "crowds". We will be there in June, too, so I hope it won't be as bad as July and August. (And, afterall, we only have 2 nights.)

itsv Oct 26th, 2005 05:41 PM

WE stayed in the family room at the Villa Steno and it worked out very well. We parked our car in their small lot at the hotel and left it there until we left for rome. Be sure to get the code or passcard for the city gate that is near the hotel that you have to pass if you have a card. One day our kids and us just hung out at the beach in town and loved it. The next day we took a boat to the furtherest of the 5 cities and then did a combination of hking, train and boat between the 5 cities with a stop for lunch in Vernazza. My kids really loved the little square in monterosso at night and we ate at the Belvedre restaurant, fabulous pesto pasta that I am still craving. For lunch at the beach we went to a place that had about pizzas with 30 different toppings. Although everyone is right that Rick Steves fans have overtaken the area, it still is very pretty and worth a visit. Also the couple that run the Villa Steno are very nice and helpful. A very beautiful terrace is at the hotel where you can have breakfast. hope this helps.

dina4 Oct 26th, 2005 07:04 PM

Thanks ITSV, that is very helpful and reassuring.

itsv Oct 26th, 2005 10:57 PM

Sorry for all the spelling mistakes, tried to type while helping the kids. I forgot to mention that the family room is divided in two with a double bed on one side and then a wall where you can pull two sliding doors shut and the kids are in twins on the other side. We too only spent 2 nights there, but we got a nice feeling for the place. What was incredible is that arrived sick at the hotel and a doctor made a house call on a sunday for only %50 euro, and arranged to have a prescription filled for me and delivered to the hotel which quickly cured my ailments. Wonderful service. Note that you have to pay to layout on the beaches (I think it was 15 euros for our family of 4), but you got nice beach chairs to sit in and an umbrella. The hotel rented us beach towels. My kids rented paddle boats what they used around the beach to go exploring. Enjoy your stay, itsv

dina4 Oct 27th, 2005 05:49 AM

That is so nice. It sounds like a great place. I'm so excited. I'm curious, how old are your kids? Mine will be 13 and 16. I think they'll love it, too.

motor_city_girl Oct 27th, 2005 11:14 AM

We stayed at Villa Steno in April and loved it. I would not have stayed at Pasqual. Although it was a very nice hotel, it is RIGHT under the train tracks.

Just so you know, Steno is at the top of a hill in the old town. A 10 minute walk from the train station. We walked to the Pasqual and I could not walk any futher with the luggage. I am NOT a light packer. The Pasqual made arrangements to take our bags to the Steno...same owners. Very nice.

Definately eat at Gambero Rosso in Vernazza. The best meal of our trip.

itsv Oct 28th, 2005 07:14 PM

Dina4, just checked the posting and saw your question. My children were 7 and 11 at the time. They are pretty good travelers and game for just about anything. We are taking them back to Europe this summer again (England, Scotland, Holland and Belgium) and they will be 10 and 14 then. I know this must sound corny but we had them watch the rick steves program on the cinque terre so they know what to expect. If you want any other advice for traveling to europe with kids, feel free to email me at [email protected]. Have fun and be sure to eat that pesto, it was incredible, itsv

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