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To Cinque Terre or not to Cinque Terre ..? The big question!

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Mar 13th, 2015, 10:20 PM
  #1
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To Cinque Terre or not to Cinque Terre ..? The big question!

Hi all Italian Fodorites!

I have a question loaded with indecision on many fronts! I will be in Antibes from July 12 to 17, arriving from San Sebastian and departing to (at this stage) the Cinque Terre.

This seems like a lot of beach time for someone who comes from the beautiful Australian coast … But there are reasons for this. Namely, San Sebastian is about food, fun, walking and lounging and it will be stop number two on our trip after Barcelona.

Antibes is about seeing the Cote D'Azur, which looks like a lot of fun and unlike what we have here. And staying in Antibes we hope to be far enough away from the expense of Cannes and Monaco but close enough to go and see and enjoy the sights.

Cinque Terre is because it is surely a must do? And I want to do some hiking. And some wine sipping

I would love to see the alps as I do love the outdoors and we don't have mountains like those of France, Switzerland and Italy. So from the CT we plan to go to Verrana (after a detour to Venice) and while I realise this isn't the alps, I am told by an Italian colleague that the walks are truly beautiful here.

Soooo …. with all of that back story now told, I am wondering though if it will be too crowded to enjoy the CT? Is there somewhere nearby that is less crowded but equally beautiful and that would allow us to get from the Cote D'Azur easily and over to Venice, via Milan (I guess?) simply as well, as we don't want to spend endless days travelling . That is another reason for missing the alps on this trip.

We plan to have four nights in the CT. That's really giving us three days, as we will spend most of the day ahead of the first night travelling to get there, and then imagine we will leave on the morning after the fourth night.

Advice would be appreciated!
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Mar 14th, 2015, 03:13 AM
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"Cinque Terre is because it is surely a must do?" It's certainly a pleasant part of Italy, but "must do"? Not IMO. It's been well marketed and Rick Steves is also massively guilty of bigging the place up to the extent that in mid to late July the area will be heaving with Americans all clutching a copy of his guide book.

You have the five villages connected by paths, which are unpredictable in their suitability for walking as they are very weather dependent. Some paths may be closed due to instability from the winter. In July they should be dry and OK, but much of the pleasure for me is taken away by the numbers of people.

The villages themselves are very nice too, but definitely not better than lots of places in Italy which are just as pretty. If you must go, then I also think that 4 nights there is a little too much. You can sip wine in lots of places.

I don't intend that this should come across as totally dissing the CT, as it's undoubtedly a pretty area, but I do think it's way over-hyped.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:10 AM
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Thanks Rubicon. In some ways I would prefer CT to Cote A'Zur but then again the fun of Cannes etc is different to the reasons I like the idea of CT.

Perhaps we could go from Antibes to Venice, via Milan, then to the Como area and spend the four days we were going to do the CT in in Lucca instead before making our way to Rome. So that would be one night in Milan, two in Venice or Padua, five at Varenna, four in Lucca and four in Rome.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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Check out Santa Margarita Ligure (SML) and the nearby Portofino - I know there is a walk that links the two that is pleasant (altho not quite as scenic as CT) and it probably also works better for you logistically. CT can get horribly crowded but there are walking options in the area besides the super-crowded main one.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:18 AM
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I'd suggest adding days to Venice and taking at least one, maybe two away from Lucca. I like Lucca but Venice is much more worth the time. Going to the Lakes instead of the CT is a good idea too - plenty of lovely places to walk there.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:18 AM
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Yes I have looked at Santa Margherita too, but won't this also be just as busy as CT?

What do you think of my other option (do Lucca) instead of more coasts?
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:20 AM
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Thanks suec1, we crossed messages. But we could go to Pisa (and the Tuscan coast) from Lucca so that may mean we'd need four nights?
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:31 AM
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You've already gotten some great advice. I agree - 4 days in the Cinque Terre is defintiely overkill -- give it at most 2 days unless you have a VERY specific interest in spending more time there.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 05:15 AM
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There are just too many options, aren't there? but life is all about tough choices . If it were my trip (I wish) I think I would do (after San Seb. and Cote D'Azur) Venice, an Italian Lake and on to Rome. This gives you a great variety of locales. But you could add in Lucca and do some daytrips out. We actually went from Lucca to the CT for a day trip but it was a bit much. In the end you'll have to decide what you will enjoy most - every poster here probably has a different opinion of the "perfect" trip.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 05:32 AM
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The Cinque Terre, (and Liguria in general) is one of my favourite parts of the world, it really is stunning. Also if you are in the area, Santa Margherita, Camogli and Portofino are all equally as amazing Enjoy your trip!
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Mar 14th, 2015, 06:41 AM
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If you want to go hiking, consider the val d'Aosta or the Dolomiti instead at that time of year.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 06:50 AM
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There are excellent hikiing trails between Nice and Menton, all above the Mediterranean Sea (views!) as well as in the whole hinterland (Sospello, Piene, Breil, Airole, etc.)

The hiking trails around Varenna are fine, just like all the others around and close to Lake Como, Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta.

If you don't fly from Nice to Venice (easyjet has direct flights for about 50 EUR), 5Terre lies more or less along the itinerary from Nice to Venice.

5Terre will be crowded in July. You will find almost no Europeans and no Italian tourists at all, but tons of people from overseas
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Mar 14th, 2015, 04:50 PM
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Ok so perhaps we will stay an extra night in Antibes and then go to CT or Santa Margherita for two nights only and add an extra night to Venice/Padua. I will speak to my travelling buddy first as I am unsure of what her preference is to be honest. I really wanted to go to Dolomiti too (and Chamomix and Zermatt) but I think that will be for another trip all in itself ... I'd love to hike the Mont Blanc ... If I don't get swayed by cycling the Danube first ... But they are each their own separate posts for another trip!

This is my first Europe trip so small, short, easy day hikes combined with the 'tourist' sights are I guess easier.

I do know that it is often the places not all over the tourist guides though that are more magical than the obvious ones. I remember falling in love with a glacier hike that was off the beaten track near Whistler, Canada. It wasn't in any books but was the most amazing experience I'd ever had. It was also hard work so we didn't see many people. The Rockies, by contrast, were very beautiful but crowded and the many man made tracks filled with people just didn't have the same appeal.

I guess I would love to have a similar experience in Italy but am less sure of how to do that ..!

Thanks for all your help everyone
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Mar 14th, 2015, 05:40 PM
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RT

I would join with bobthenavigator in suggesting the Dolomiti! Awesome scenery, variety of hikes and it will be the least crowded place on your trip. I would head there after Antibes and before Venice. Not really out of the way. Google some pictures of the Dolomiti. GO!
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Mar 14th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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I love your enthusias Dayle! But it looks like a 12 hour trip, unless I fly but in that case I'd have to go to Venice first anyway ...
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Mar 14th, 2015, 08:28 PM
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Oh correction. That was sandralist who first suggested the Dolomiti.

and RT, Whistler is in the Canadian Rockies and yest it's beautiful. Great skiing too. If you are talking crowds at Rocky Mtn Natl Park, I can understand although it's one of the few western US/Canada park I haven't visited (yet).

If you want to see the Alps, see the Italian Alps since you don't have those mountains in Oz.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 08:52 PM
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Hi Dayle, I was mainly comparing the amazing hike I did at Lake Wedgemount near Whistler (so stunning, challenging and mentally stimulating the entire way - the terrain constantly changes) to other walks between Banff and Jasper. Funnily enough, Whistler is so man made and commercial as a town - beautiful but like Disnelyland in some ways! But this trek was the most natural thing in the world ... Banff was a joy as well. I loved Sulphur Mtn too. But so different to Wedgemount's hidden treasure. The funny part was about Sulphur was we saw about three other hikers the whole way up but when we got to the top it was teeming with tourists! They all took the gondola and missed the beauty of the hike. However I was happy it was there as this was less than a week after Wedgemount and I still couldn't walk downhill so jumped on the gondola myself!

Yes I am leaning towards Dolomiti! Perhaps Antibes, Venice, Dolomiti and Varenna (via Milan) and then Rome. Although this may still be too much for only 16 days, with at least four spent in transit for three-six hours each ..
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Mar 14th, 2015, 10:01 PM
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I'm sorry but as a British Columbian I can't let this go. Dayle, Whistler is definitely not in the Rockies, it is in the Coast Mountains. There are many many miles and hours of driving between the two mountain ranges, they are on opposite sides of the province.

RT, I think for what you want the Dolomites will be perfect, if you thought the area around Banff was crowded your eyes would bug out at the crowds in CT especially at that time of year.

Enjoy your trip!
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Mar 14th, 2015, 10:12 PM
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Haha, I did have a giggle about the Rockies interpretation but I do love that this fourm engages on so many levels and aspects of travel raincitygirl. Oh and I envy you where you live!

Thanks for the advice. Banff wasn't crazy crowded, it was just interesting to note that the places in the guide books aren't always the best …. but that's the beauty in the frustration of not knowing you'll find the secret place that is so much better until you venture away from the obvious ...
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Mar 14th, 2015, 10:23 PM
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Yes it's a fun place this Forum.
This is a pretty great place to live alright but where you are from is not too bad either! ( in fact I am heading to Sydney at the end of the month)

But where you are going on this trip of yours is my all time favourite...Italy, I am always scheming on how quickly I can get back there for my next fix!
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