tips: cinque terre on the cheap

Old Oct 21st, 2008, 09:01 AM
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tips: cinque terre on the cheap

Having come back from the Cinque Terre, I offer the following advice, some of which may help in these times of credit crunch:
1 Portovenere is a beautiful coastal village near enough to the Cinque Terre to make it a cheaper option for accommodation and dining;
2 The Hotel Belvedere has a lovely ambience and overlooks the harbour in Portovenere, it is much cheaper and nearer the Centre than Hotel Royal Sporting in Portovenere;
3 Regional train travel is very cheap and allows you to explore the area very well;
4 If you are going to walk the Cinque Terre try starting at Manorola as opposed to the usual choice of Riomaggiore to beat the tourist traffic on the trails between Riomaggiore and Manorola;
5 The trail between Riomaggiore and Manorola is a mere stroll suitable for non avid walkers;
6 If you go by train to Riomaggore make sure you are near the front of the train as you may not be able to get off (the back end stays in the tunnel and no one warns you);
7 Tuesdays seemed to be a busy day for walkers on the trail (I wonder if this is the usual pattern) Wednesday is not;
8 According to local sources mid June or late September is a better time to visit (May is a month of Viking invasions early June is the Italian holidays and July and August is packed out). October and November are supposed to be the wettest months but we were lucky;
9 Coffee and wine are cheap but Beer is a rip off;
10 Fill up with Focacia at lunchtime as opposed to a full lunch - much much cheaper and delicious;
11 The ferries (which do run in October) are cheaper from Monterrossa as opposed to Portovenere;
12 If you are catching the ferries make sure you are at the ferry stop 10 minutes before they depart - because they are frequently early and depart early.
Hope this might help some of you in your planning.
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 10:10 AM
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This is great information, stevelyon. Thanks very much!
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 12:19 PM
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stevelyon,

We were there last week, too, staying in Santa Margherita.

Wasn't the weather spectacular?!

We walked (part of) the trails on Thursday, and there were no crowds at all.

The trail from Manarola to Corniglia has some fairly rocky uneven stretches, but really isn't difficult.

We were in the CT years ago (pre-Rick Steves) and even though there have been many changes, the area is still so beautiful.

Byrd
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 12:44 PM
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If you are in 4 of the 5 CT villages with beach fronts (Corniglia isn't one of them) they sell an all day ferry pass for 12 euros--good deal. Portovenere is extra.
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 12:51 PM
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One of the reasons beer may seem like a "rip off" is that Italy is not much of a beer drinking or beer producing country -- and distributing it therefore is in the hands of specialty providers, and it is already hard enough for distributors to get food in Cinque Terre and other picturesque places in Liguria. (They are picturesque just because they are remote.)

By contrast, coffee and wine are in such staples in Italy, the machinery for delivering them is much more established, with more competition between vendors.

Steve's tips are good, but remember if you are really on a budget, staying in places even less tourist-driven than Portovenere can be real bargains. Unfamous towns like Deiva Marina and Bonassola are even better connected to Cinque Terre (via train) than Portovenere. And if you go not far into the hills of La Spezia, you'll find pretty view at rock bottom prices, and cheap eats.

The town of Nervi (15 minutes from Genova) has a coastal, cliff-hugging promenade that is actually better kept and more popular with Italians than the via dell'Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola. Likewise, the town of Zoagli has a truly gorgeous path cut into its cliffs for those who enjoy places with fewer foreign tourists, and some charming seaside cafes.

In addition to foccacie, the local Ligurian specialty of "farinata" -- chickpea flour baked as a pizza bread in the afternoon -- is especially nutritious and filling for hikers. It's sold by the slice in bakeries (about 1 euro per slice). More than in most places in Italy, bars in Liguria often offer fresh salads with a variety of ingredients (tuna, olives, hard boiled eggs, carrots and anchovies as well as lettuces), making it an inexpensive lunch choice (and break for the carbs).

People contemplating a hiking visit to Liguria should also be aware that 90 percent of the coastal hillsides -- from the French border to La Spezia -- have beautiful rural, pubic walkways and staircases through olive groves and vineyards, and inexpensive rural restaurants. And there are several important parks (Monte Portofino is one) with spectacular hikes with sea views and secluded swimming. These walks are free, and can be begun in almost ever coastal town. Just head for the hills.

Bus travel between the Ligurian towns is not only cheap, but usually more punctual than the train (and can be a thrill a minute!)

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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 01:50 PM
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Great information! Bookmarking for a future trip. Thanks!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2008, 03:27 AM
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Great stuff zeppole (as usual) I know of the Portofino walks but didnt appreciate that some of the other resorts west of Genoa also had hiking trails - would you know how we would get info on these other hikes?

Byrd, yes the weather was beautiful (apart from Thursday) but I think we may have been lucky. I probably passed you on the trails - I was the dashing handsome young man.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2008, 03:31 AM
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I agree that Zeppole offered excellent info about alternatives to the CT; here is a bit more about Zoagli including brief info on the walking/hiking:


http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2...6-32098502_ITM
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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Thanks ekscrunchy. The weblink contains an interesting hotel right on the beach, and I cant believe the price. I might just give it a whirl.

Samsaf did you ever find a book with good European hikes in it (as requested within a different thread)?
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 08:04 AM
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Stevelyon,

A very good investment for anybody planning a trip to Liguria is the Italian Touring Club guide, and the Cadogan guide to the Italian Riviera and Piemonte. They show innumerable small towns at the seaside and above the seaside, all of which can be departure points for charming and beautiful walks.

While there are well-mapped trails in state parks like the Monto Portofino throughout Liguria, and some right above Genova, avid hikers or walkers can also take a look at Google earth at towns like Recco, Borzonasca, Velva or Montemarcello and notice the roads and paths among the olive groves and farms in the hills. There are roads, staircases, and public paths all through these hills above the sea. For instance, there is a public cable car that goes up to a santuorio high in the hills right above Rapallo. There are fantastic views from anywhere you go above the via Aurelia, which stretches all the way from Nice to La Spezia.

I realize that people trying to plan a trip from outside Italy will find a lot more information about le Cinque Terre, and will probably feel more comfortable staying on the beaten track. But if you even the mildest sense of adventure, realize that the hills along the mediterranean have been farmed and lived in for centures, and they crisscrossed with public roads of every description. They can be reached by bus or on foot, and they are safe, and they very often have nice restaurants hidden in them.
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 08:37 AM
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bookmarking Thanks!!!
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 10:40 AM
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Thanks again zeppole.

I assume that santuorio is a sanctuary, and I guess you could walk back to Rapallo from here, is this what you are suggesting?

I did borrow that Cadogan book from my local library when researching Cinque Terre and will re-borrow it, but I haven't come across the Italian Touring Club book.

I was thinking about locating myself nearer the French border next year, but Zoagli looks interesting.

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 12:09 PM
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Thanks. I've always disregarded this area as too expensive and too touristy. Thanks for giving me a new perspective. I just may have to reconsider.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 12:18 PM
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stevelyon, which hotel did you find on the beach?
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 12:20 PM
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If you don't mind sharing the info that is.
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 04:13 PM
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stevelyon: how did you travel from Portovenere to the other towns? Did you bus, or always use a boat?
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Old Nov 1st, 2008, 05:39 PM
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This thread is gold!! Thank you so much, all of you!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 02:13 AM
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I agree about buying the Cadogan guide and, if you plan to walk or hike, the ITC guide. (I found Cadogan to be more useful but then, I did not hike)

Also, the tourist offices in Liguria do a wonderful job of publishing materials for travelers including brochures and hiking maps..they also have websites; I am guessing that you could request material to be mailed to you:

http://www.turismoinliguria.it/lirgw.../ep/preHome.do
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Old Nov 2nd, 2008, 02:40 AM
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Thanks ekscrunchy, I did find the Tourist Information very helpful but hadn't thought about mailing or contacting them beforehand.

I didn't find North Italy expensive - in fact dirt cheap (apart from the beer )in comparison to Marseilles this summer.

The Hotel Belvedere overlooks the Port in Portovenere (there is a beach at Portovenere but its not near the port) - I have placed a review on Trip Advisor which is very fair. I can not praise Portovenere enough it was a real find, but quiet at night.

The buses are very frequent (every 15 minutes) from Portovenere to La Spezia - but there is a bit of a drag of a walk between the bus stop and the train station - but there are ways in which you can liven this up (if not in a rush).

You can also get ferries from Portovenere to La Spezia but again this is some way from the train station.

I am glad to share some information about some of the restaurants in Portovenere although I haven't the best memory for names but can give directions!
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