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Staying in La Spieza as a base for Cinque Terre?

Staying in La Spieza as a base for Cinque Terre?

Old Jun 4th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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Staying in La Spieza as a base for Cinque Terre?

I'm 55, traveling in October with my 30 year old daughter, so she wants the hiking and trails of Cinque Terre, but I'm concerned I can only do the easiest short hikes, due to bad knees even though I'm very active and physically fit. Should we stay in La Spieza and just take day trips to the towns or will that create more hiking and stairs then if we stayed in Vernazza perhaps? I've heard La Spieza is not the quaint ambience of Cinque Terre, so might regret it?
We love small beach towns so am concerned La Spieza will not suit us? thank you for comments.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 05:51 AM
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I'm concerned I can only do the easiest short hikes, due to bad knees even though I'm very active and physically fit.>

I've hiked the whole seven miles in one day and IME there is only one easy segment - Riomaggiore to the next town but that path I think is temporarily closed - a flat boardwalk - the rest all entail upwards and downwards climbs.

No reason to stay in La Spezia - the towns themselves save high-up Corniglia, are flat on the sea. You can take trains between the four seaside villages - you could take the mini-bus up to Corniglia and walk down though down can be as strenous on the knees as going up.

Stay in Vernazza perhaps, a perpetual favorite here.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 06:00 AM
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One factor to consider is the uphill climbs in the towns themselves - - something to consider in booking accommodation - - in Vernazza, for instance, you can find yourself at a place that is up several flights of steps just to get to the B&B, then more steps inside the B&B. Monterosso may have fewer steps and lots of accommodation (though less total charm); if you want to stay outside of the Cinque Terre, instead of La Spezia, which is kind of commercial and undistinguished, have a look at this Fodors thread about staying one town north of the CT, in Levanto:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...experience.cfm
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 06:05 AM
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http://www.hotelcrismar.it/en
We stayed here and loved it. The building where the bikes are leaning against was a two bedroom apartment and very nice. We took the ferry at 9 am, short walk to the boat from the hotel. We stopped at many of the villages and then hiked taking the train back to La Spezia. I think we decided on this because it was close to the train, more to do at night and a beautiful place. I really would do it again.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 06:08 AM
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Do not stay in La Spezia--it is a rather unattractive naval town. I would stay in Monterosso which is rather flat and gives you more hotel options. The CT is more than hiking to me. The best expereince is to take the HOHO ferry along the coast and also to Portovenere---the most charaming of all the villages. Let her hike---you meet her in Vernazza for lunch.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 06:22 AM
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Thank you for the ideas. I love the idea of using the Ferry to get around. We are taking the 5 hr train from Venice, so on arrival, we'll need to see how easy it may be to get a fairly quick connection to Monterosso? I think that's what made La Spieza convenient.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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It is very easy to get train connections from la spezia to the 5 villages and easy to catch the trains between the villages. I travelled with my daughters as well and I am also in my 50's. We stayed in manarola which was a lovely town. However, there were lots of stairs and ramps up to our apartment. If you stay there make sure you are at the bottom of the city. Don't stay in corniglia. The stairs might be too hard on your knees. Lots of stairs and ups and downs on the trails as well.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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I didn't think it was an unattractive navy town. We stayed in a very pretty area with shops and cafes a short walk to the palm tree lined water. We sat at a café drinking sparkling wine and enjoyed the view. The cruise ships dock a distance away.

We had flown all night and then taken the train from Florence so it was the best and easiest option for us to agree on and much cheaper for the apartment that we booked. Also many connections to get back to Florence two days later.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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We were just in Cinque Terre and stayed in Manarola. It was lovely, but someone with knee issues might choose accommodations lower in the town, as noted above. Also, the easy trail to Riomaggiore was still closed and so made the town feel more isolated. Riomaggiore and Monterosso get a few more trains each day, so maybe consider one of those towns, with the flatter Monterosso maybe getting the edge.

That said, both Monterosso (old town)and Vernazza were overrun with tour groups (from cruise ships? They seemed to depart on different boats than the regular ferries).

The only Sentiero Azzuro open at that time was the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza, which was busy. We did other enjoyable hikes between Levanto and Monterosso, Manarola to Volostra and then to Cornilia, and Riomaggiore to the Sanctuary. All less crowded but too challenging for someone with knee issues.

I do not think the Levanto suggestion is a bad one, although we only walked through town in passing. There are other towns along the coast that have hiking opportunities that other Fodorites might have better info on.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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Thank you. I'm working on finding a place in Monterosso based on several of the very helpful postings above.
Please pass on your favorite cafe or restaurant that you think we should be sure to find.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 12:39 PM
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A place with MIKY in the name---owned by an American.
Near the main beach and parking lot.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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I stayed in lovely Santa Margharita Ligure and day tripped into the 5 Terre and did the whole seven-miles in a day with time to look around each village.

SML is a more real town though still touristy - being the closest town to Portofino, just a short hike away - that hike I enjoyed even more than the hikes in the 5 Terre - hiking to San Fruttoso was also great - there are like mama mia says other great hikes than the very well beaten trail between the 5 Lands in the area.

Even in September I found the 5 villages hopelessly overcrowded for my tastes.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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During your stay in Cinque Terre, make sure you try the anchovies. Don't confuse these with the shriveled oily things from a can. They are wonderfully fresh and are best with just lemon and olive oil.

In Monterosso, we had nice lunches at La Barcaccia and Cantina di Miky (white wine, anchovies and a nice farro salad at their beachside cafe, on a sunny day after a long hike--heaven).

In Riomaggiore, a nice lunch at Dua Cila, down by the harbor.

In Manarola, we had dinner twice at Trattoria Dal Billy (reservations necessary). They have a wonderful seafood antipasto that is something like 12-14 (small) dishes to be shared by two. Their fresh fish (sea bream baked with potatoes) was about the best I have ever had.

We had a very nice ricotta and fig gelato at Gelateria Vernazza.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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Try to get over to Portovenere if you can (I took a bus from downtown La Spezia), which is also on the Bay of Poets, but not accessible by train. Even more beautiful than the Cinque Terre towns--a little larger with a castle, a beautiful sheltered harbor with the quietest waves--I was ready to fall asleep on the spot and stay forever. I was only there for about 3 or 4 hours but it was enough. The most romantic place I went in 6 weeks in Italy!
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 07:35 PM
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You could also stay in Levanto, a very nice town on the coast. Not in the Cinque Terre , but approx. a couple minutes away by train. Nice town with more accommodation options and relatively flat.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 09:00 PM
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Bookmarking
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 09:43 PM
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I've stayed in Levanto on two separate visits to the Cinque Terre and found it a convenient budget option vs. staying in one of the five villages, but FYI, it is a slight uphill walk from the center of town to the train station. But at least you can walk up on the sidewalk not up steps!

As busy at it is, I think I'd prefer staying in Vernazza for someone with bad knees. It's a small town and the train station is almost smack in the middle of town. However, getting to your accommodations might involve some steps! You need to read the reviews carefully of any place you book in the region. It may be hard to avoid some sort of inconvenient walking or a little uphill staying anywhere in the Cinque Terre. I assume anywhere nice in a good location that doesn't involve stairs or walks is also very pricey.
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Old Jun 4th, 2014, 11:27 PM
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Another vote for Levanto. Although it is slightly uphill to walk to the train station, you can take a taxi, or you can take a ferry if you are visiting le Cinque Terre. It also has the advantage of not being overwhelmed by foreign tourism, so it has local Italian charm and most of its food is cooked by locals!
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