Pisa-Lucca-Cinque Terre itinery

Old Jul 31st, 2016, 09:55 AM
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Pisa-Lucca-Cinque Terre itinery

Hi. I'm flying into Pisa for 1 week at the end of September. Arrive 4pm Friday, then fly home the following Friday 10.30am flight. I'm wondering how best to split my time, between Cinque Terre and Lucca. I am thinking because I have an early return flight I will need to stay in Pisa the final Thursday night, but other than that I'd like to hear people's suggestions. Should I stay in Lucca first, then move onto the Cinque Terre area after a few days, or the other way round, or does it not really make any difference, travel-wise with the trains etc? I'm not sure how many nights to split between Lucca/Cinque Terre. I am planning on doing some walking in the Cinque Terre area, perhaps also visit Portovenere and Portofino. Thanks in advance for any advice, suggestions.
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Old Jul 31st, 2016, 12:27 PM
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You don't necessarily have to stay right in Pisa the night before you fly home. You could stay in Lucca, too, and take a bus from there to the airport. Some people prefer Lucca to Pisa for an overnight, anyway. (I didn't fall in love with either city, myself, but they are both nice in their own ways.) But if you are certain you will want to spend a night in Pisa anyway, obviously spending the last night there makes sense.

I loved the Cinque Terre - have been there twice. You don't really need all that much time there. Two nights is probably plenty unless you are an avid hiker and want to explore trails beyond the main trails between towns. Note that a couple of the trails - the easier ones between Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corngilia, are still closed. The two hikes between Corgnilia and Vernazza and between Vernazza and Monterosso are moderately difficult hikes - not impossible if you aren't an avid hiker but I wouldn't call them "walking." There are a lot of steps up and down, too. But the views on both hikes are amazing and memorable.

The Cineque Terre is extremely touristy even in September. Lodgings may be expensive. Don't be afraid to stay in the town of Levanto, one town north by train from Monterosso (but still included in the park pass / train pass). Levanto is more of a conventional beach town than the five villages but still very nice and convenient.
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 07:25 AM
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Thankyou. From reading other comments, I think my main objective for Pisa would really only be to see the Tower, but I just wasn't sure how feasible it would be to travel form Lucca early in the morning to ensure I didn't miss my flight?

As for the Cinque Terre region, yes I think the villages may be too expensive for me, so I'll take a look at Levanto, but I was also thinking of La Spezia. It seems easy to travel to from the airport if I maybe wanted to start there, then finish with Lucca/Pisa? I appreciate it doesn't sound one of the prettiest places but it seems a good base to get the train to the villages?

I'll do some more research regarding the trails, as I'm finding it a bit confusing! But yes, I really want to do some hiking, I'm OK with steps etc. So if some of the easier trails between the villages are closed, apart from the two already mentioned (Corgnilia-Vernazza, Vernazza-Monterosso), are there any other trails you would recommend?
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 07:37 AM
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We actually took train trips to Cinque Terre and Lucca from our Pisa base. We also went to Siena and (with bus trip) to San Gimingnano (sp?).

The trails were closed when we made our March visit so no help with specific hikes.

Take a look at the train schedules but you could probably make good trips from Lucca also.

It's so nice to stay in one place where there are lots of places to eat in the vicinity.
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 07:46 AM
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Like a lot of national parks, CT has a website. It describes all of the hikes
http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Eindex.php

Logistics-wise. I would do to Lucca first just to visit CT on a weekday instead of weekend (so maybe fewer crowds). While you could easily get to the airport from Lucca, I would spend the last night in Pisa because I bet I would like Pisa (as I typically like underrated cities) and to avoid having to split stays in Lucca.
Any of the towns along the train line would work for visiting CT.
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 07:53 AM
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The Vernazza-Monterosso trail can be extremely crowded. We did Levanto-Monterosso--not one of the trails known as the Sentiero Azzuro -- but very nice and a little less crowded.

We also did one of the upper trail hikes from Manarola through Volastra to Corniglia--even prettier and less crowded.

Trail updates can be found here: http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Eindex.php
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Old Aug 1st, 2016, 08:11 AM
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Sorry--in the time it took me to find the park website, yorkshire already posted it.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 01:31 AM
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Thanks everyone for your comments. So I'm now thinking maybe the first 3 nights in Lucca, so I have 2 full days there, then move onto CT region on Monday for 3 nights, then onto Pisa sometime on Thursday for the final night. Does that sound about right?

Thanks for the National Park link, I'll take a good look at it, but there are a lot of walks listed! Sorry I can't spot the Sentiero Azzuro, is that listed there?

Also, mamma_mia mentioned Levanto-Monterosso and the upper trail Manarola- Volastra -Corniglia. Are these in the list? Thanks
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 04:17 AM
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Pisa and Lucca are only 25 minutes apart by train (3-4€).
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 05:39 AM
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Re the trails...

I am no expert but if you look at the listing of trails on the park link, the trails marked 592-1 (SVA2) Riomaggiore - Manarola (Via dell'Amore) and 592-2 (SVA2) Manarola - Corniglia are two of the trails that form the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path).

This was the popular walk that linked the 5 villages. But, because of landslides and other issues, these two trails have been closed for some time. (Other trails are occasionally closed for same reasons.)

It looks like only one other trail is closed now, but that can change with the weather. If you also notice on the park website, there are welcome centers in each of the 5 villages and also Levanto. You can get updates there, purchase the Cinque Terre card and get maps and directions to the trail heads.

I had a book that gave directions for the Manarola-Volastra-Corniglia hike and also the Levanto-Monterosso hike. But you should be able to get info in the towns; the trails are marked and not too difficult to follow. (I think from the website, it would be part of the 506 from Manarola to Volastra and then veer off onto 586 towards Corniglia--but check with the welcome center.)
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 09:16 AM
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As for trains - all the trains you need to take are regional trains - dirt cheap, flat fare - no need to book in advance -just buy as you go- validate your own ticket before boarding.

For lots of info on Italian trains in that area check www.trenitalia.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com.

There is a secondary Pisa station a short walk from the Leaning Tower - S Rossore I think - from Lucca take regional trains there.

I would stay in Pisa the night before your flight - train strikes do pop up occasionally.

<Should I stay in Lucca first, then move onto the Cinque Terre area after a few days, or the other way round, or does it not really make any difference, travel-wise with the trains etc?>

Absolutely no difference.
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