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

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

Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:24 PM
  #21  
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Oh and raincitygirl I did drive those many, many hours between Whistler and Banff and have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only do we not have mountains of that size here, nor do we have highways that large or lakes that go for entire regions … largesse of the best kind was to be found throughout BC and Alberta!
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:28 PM
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This will be my first time in Italy and I cannot wait … Australia is beautiful yes, just so far from everywhere! I am from the Victorian coast, not too far from our beautiful Great Ocean Road, so not Sydney. But Sydney is a tourist's delight for sure.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:29 PM
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My husband is cycling in the Banff GranFondo in August so he will be making that long drive and then tackling those mountains on his bike. Glad you enjoyed it. Come back soon and this time go to Vancouver Island! ( I grew up there so am biased)

Oh, and yes we do have all that you described but you have all those glorious beaches which we do not.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:33 PM
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Oh the Great Ocean Road is beautiful! I have a friend who lives in Warrnambool so I've seen your part of the country.

I used to live in Sydney, my husband is from there, so more of a catch up with friends visit that I am doing.

Italy is fabulous, I hope you enjoy it.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:38 PM
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I did go to Vancouver Island! Loved, loved it. We camped on Denman Island for a night and I loved swimming out to a pontoon and enjoying the stunning natural beauty of it all. Unfortunately though this was where I learned the mistake of cramming too much into too little time. Two weeks to do Vancouver (awesome city), Vancouver Island, including the Inside Passage (we were the only people ever to do the boat trip up and back - suffice to say I did not organise this trip myself and I am no longer the partner of the person who did haha … I spent most of the second day asleep in a cabin on the boat) and then back to Vancouver (the greyhound bus was an experience in itself and it would have been cheaper to hire a car - again organisational skills) and then- this time with a car - on to Whistler before Lake Louise, Banff and Kelowna before driving back to Vancouver … it was harder because of all the summer road works, but I fell in love with your country the moment I arrived so none of it was too painful.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:39 PM
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Then you have the best of both worlds - Australian heritage in your family and Canadian. I am two hours from Warrnambool … yes i am sure I will love Italy!
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 09:59 PM
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Holy cow! That was some marathon trip you did! Love Denman Island.

Yes buses on holidays can be dodgy..I once took the bus from Melbourne to Sydney...not fun. Then there was my train ride from Warrnambool to Melbourne where I got to ride up front in the engine (friend's husband worked for the railway and arranged it) and it was all really great until we hit a cow. An experience to remember!

Enjoy Italy. Remember to eat gelato often.
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 10:00 PM
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Argh! Yes raincitygirl, of course you are right. I had Banff in my head, where I have also skied.

How many hours does it take to drive from Vancouver to the Banff area? I have been wanting to do a camper van trip up there for so many years, but wow it!s expensive . Those Canadian taxes are painful.

Loved a trip to Tofino a few years ago. Vancouver Island is a great place. So big. We drove from Victoria all the way to Tofino. Gorgeous drive.

I love all mountains. Live in the Utah Wasatch and my first trip to Europe was a ski trip to the Dolomites. I hope to get back for a summer hiking trip there soon so RT I hope you will report back!

Buon viaggio!
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 10:10 PM
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Dayle it is about a nine or ten hour drive. We have never done it all in one day, usually stop for the night in Revelstoke or Sicamous. I love mountains too but the ocean is my first love. Come on up, your dollar is way stronger against ours now, that should offset some of our painful taxes!
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Old Mar 14th, 2015, 10:11 PM
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Ah the V/line travel experience … where Australia meets the third world! Just kidding, but it's not exactly up there with the Eurostar … And Melbourne to Sydney wouldn't be fun either, although my most interesting bus experiences were in Cambodia …

I hope I get to the Dolomiti area after all of this - will check with what my friend wants to do! FYI I can't remember how many hours it took to get from Vancouver to Banff, but we went via Whistler - if you love hiking you would love Wedgemount - and then from Whistler we took two days. And apart from stopping to pitch a tent and eat, we drove and drove and drove … stunning though which made it easier.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 09:15 PM
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If you click my user Name, and scroll down, you'll find an excessively long Venetian trip report or three. We visited the Cinque Terre in May, 2014, a side trip from Venice, and stayed two nights. Extracted from said trip report:

Cinque Terre, left venice Tuesday 6th May, returned Thursday 8th. Pretty simple, train to Florence, train to La Spezia, and then a ten minute train ride to Riomaggiore, where we stayed for two nights.

We took a ferry ride from Riomaggiore to Monteresso Al Mare, and really enjoyed it. The ferry calls at four of the five towns (Corniglia does not have a harbour), and you can get a really good idea of the terrain when viewing it from the sea. The mountains seem to rise straight out of the Mediterranean, cut by very steep gullies and ridges. You can clearly see how the land has been terraced for horticulture and it is this terracing, some dating back a thousand years, which has made the cinque Terre as World Heritage site.

The towns themselves are quaint and fun to see, with their tiny harbours. The church in Vernazza is really worth visiting, very simple, massive stone columns and cut rough stone ribbing to the vaulting, a construction that I have not seen before.

But it is the horticulture that grabs me. The pure physical work that has gone into creating and maintaining the terraced plots - think a stone wall maybe one and a half metres hight, and a plot maybe two or three metres wide - and you can get an idea of how steep the hillsides are. Olives, grapes and many different vegetables - harvest must be back-breaking. The plots demonstrate a great deal of social cohesion, an undertaking that must have been shared by all the people working together, and many of the walls are several hundred metres long.

Each of the villages has a train station (Corniglia station being at least a couple of hundred metres below the town, great if you are going down the switchback set of steps), and the train trundles between all the villages, about every hour or so.

We trained back to Riomaggiore from Monteresso, and next day trained to Vernazza and walked to Corniglia along the coastal path. "Coastal path" might give one the impression of a beach stroll, but it is not exactly like that. The path is only 3.5 kilometres, but took us a full hour and a half, maybe a bit more. Much of the path is stepped, and climbs steeply out of Vernazza. Approaching Corniglia, the path runs through olive groves, and the views are spectacular.

Some will say that the Cinque Terre have been ruined by tourism. I did not see a lot of non-tourism activities, no shops selling ordinary stuff like electric drills or bags of cement. Maybe people go to La Spezia for those things. Many hikers, hiking poles, tanned, leathered complexions and leder-hosen (actually, no leder-hosen, I just made that up). A lot of American accents, and in the more popular times, the footpaths must be very crowded.

We ate twice at the same place - Vecin Muin on Via Colombo in Riomaggiore. Good food, local wine, and friendly service.

Train back to Venice, with a brief stop in Florence to visit the Central Market for truffle oil and fig mostarda. And at the flower shop opposite the station, we bought agretti seeds. It'll be fun to try those at home.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 11:15 PM
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I did love the Cinque Terre on my visit - the villages are particularly pretty, especially from the sea. I love walking so it did tick all my boxes but I am not in a great rush to go back there.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 03:20 AM
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Cinque Terre is not to be missed - the views from the trails are stunning, and it's one of my best ever experiences of annual European trips for over 25 years, and I'm not even a regular hiker type (Santa Maria Ligure and Portofino are lovely, but no match for the Cinque Terre experience). Some places are worth it even if full of other tourists, and this is definitely one. I agree that there's no need for 4 days there when so many places beckon, but less than 3 nights mean you're pinning your weather hopes on a single day . . . I'd go back in a heartbeat if it didn't mean I'd miss seeing some new place!

We were in San Sebastian last year, so I'll suggest you be sure to take the funicular up Monte Igueldo where there's a small old-fashioned amusement park, but from which the views of San Sebastian are lovely - from the amusement park, be sure to walk up steps to the Holiday Inn Hotel and have a drink on its outdoor terrace with spectacular views of both the San Sebastian horseshoe bay and long vistas of the coastline in both directions - quite incredible. We almost didn't bother, but it was great. Bilbao and its Guggenheim are an easy day trip by bus.

We've visited Antibes several times as a day trip from Nice, the local bus and train service along this section of the coast is frequent, easy and inexpensive. Take a bus to St. Paul de Vence, an art-filled, cobbled hill town well worth a look.

I envy you your first visit to Venice - what a great trip you have planned - enjoy!
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 06:39 AM
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I live on the beautiful Italian Riviera and I would miss it in favor of the Dolomiti, especially at that time of year.

Something you might check out is the Lufthansa flight from Nice airport to Munich (90 minutes), and from there a train to Bressanone (3.5 hours) or Bolzano (4 hours).

Personally, I would take the train to Bressanone and rent a car there and drive into the Alta Badia area of the Dolomiti, staying somewhere near Pedraces or Corvara. Do some hiking, and ultimately drive east across the Great Dolomites Road and drop down into Venice, lose the car.

If a car isn't what you want, you can take the train from Munich to Bolzano and work work your way across the Dolomiti and drop down to Venice via Belluno. Or you can just go not too far from Bolzano for hikes, but then take a train from Bolzano to Verona (90 minutes, then on to Venice).

You can also of course fly to Venice and do this the other way around after visiting Venice -- rent a car and drive up to the eastern Dolomiti, cross the range, drop off the car in Bolzano or Verona, take trains from their to Milan.

The Dolomiti is a uniquely stunning landscape. Thus far it rates for me to be Italy's greatest natural wonder (having seen Etna, the Amalfi and Capri, the Riviera, the major and minor lakes, the val d'Orcia and the Piano Grande).
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 06:40 AM
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PS: I should add that you can take public transportation from Venice to Belluno and on to Cortina d'Ampezzo, and then acrosss the Dolomiti to the west, exiting through Bolzano and down to Verona if you don't want to return to Venice.
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