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Train one way return by Ferry through Cinque Terre

Train one way return by Ferry through Cinque Terre

Sep 29th, 2009, 08:12 AM
  #1  
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Train one way return by Ferry through Cinque Terre

Hi, does anyone have a suggestion for the 4 of us next May of 2010: We want to take the train through the Cinque Terre villages one way and return by ferry (some of us can't climb), staying one night in the area in a reasonable B&B and possibly touring Portofino? We are coming from the Lake District on our way to a Villa in Tuscany.
Any information would be appreciated. We do have a rental car and I've heard it's not advisable to leave your luggage in the car but we may not have that option.
Thank you,
Som
Sominex is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 01:41 PM
  #2  
 
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I think you may have Portofino confused with Portovenere. Portofino is not located near the Cinque Terre. Portovenere is at the tip end of the villages. You can reach it by ferry, but there is no train service. If you do indeed mean Portofino, it is located 10 minutes by bus or about 15 minutes by boat from Santa Margherita. Both places are beautiful. You can buy a day ticket for the ferry for about 20€ each. You are entitled to get off and on at all the villages including Portovenere. I love seeing the villages from the ferry. I have a picture of Varenna set as my desktop.
scatcat is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 02:02 PM
  #3  
 
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Excuse me, scatcat, but Portofino is not very far from le Cinque Terre. Many people day trip between them. And I assume you mean you have a picture of Vernazza -- not Varenna -- set as your desktop view le Cinque Terre.

Sominex,

First of all, you were misinformed about leaving your luggage in a rental car. It is safe, in both the area of le Cinque Terre and Portofino. Just put in the trunk or boot. If anything is still visible, toss something over it like an Italian newspaper or an Italian soccer t-shirt -- but even if you haven't got one, don't woryr. The only thing you should definitely remove from your car is a GPS and its cables and mounts. Otherwise, no one is interested in breaking into your car to steal your clothes.

If you take the train between the five villages of the le Cinque Terre, you will see very, very little. In fact, you will see nothing. The trains, by necessity, go through tunnels in the clifffs. Also, bear in mind that if the seas are rough -- which can happen even in sunny weather -- the boats in the entire area may not operate because of the danger involved in trying to dock in the rocky ports. (Boats to Portofino are seldom affected by this problem).

Okay-- so where does that leave you?

First of all, use your car. You can drive into parking lots in either Monterosso al Mare or Levanto. From there, you can take a boat. Do that instead of the train. If the seas are rough, you can take the train to Riomaggiore or Manarola, and walk the mostly flat "via dell'Amore."

You can drive right into Portofino and park in an underground parking structure that is well-guarded. It is pricey, but quite worth it. Portofino is flat.

Bear in mind that getting on and off a train or boat anywhere in this part of Italy means climbing stairs in a train station or taking big steps onto a boat deck.

If some members of your party can't climb, you want to stay in FLAT town. Some flat towns with good parking that are convenient to both Portofino and le Cinque Terre are Recco, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Chiavari, Lavagna, Bonassola, Deiva Marina and Levanto.

Hope that helps!
zeppole is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 02:23 PM
  #4  
 
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I meant Vernazza. I guess I still have Varenna on my mind. I was just there a few days ago. Yes, Portofino is only about an hour by train, but since Sominex was asking about Cinque Terre, I thought she may have gotten the two mixed up. I have talked with some people who did just that.

Sominex

I stay in Santa Margherita and day trip to the Cinque Terre. It is easily done by train. I've never had a car so I can't comment on it.
scatcat is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 02:25 PM
  #5  
 
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Hope you enjoyed the lovely, lovely, lovely weather! It's a tiny bit more humid now, but people are still swimming at sunset!
zeppole is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 02:32 PM
  #6  
 
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I had the best weather ever on my entire trip. We had a little rain while in Bellagio but only showers. Every day in Switzerland was beautiful. I really lucked out this September.
scatcat is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 02:05 AM
  #7  
 
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Hi Sominex:

I will add my 2 cents since I know the Cinque terre very well for years now (my fiance - now ex - lives in Riomaggiore and I know the area like the back of my hand). I would recommend dropping off/turning in your rental car in La Spezia (the city south of the Cinque Terre) once you've driven down the A3 from the Lakes area. You will not need it in the Cinque Terre and there is no sense paying and wasting rental car fees if you are not driving it. La Spezia has very easy access to the Cinque Terre, you can hop one of the many local trains going to each of the 5 villages. I am partial to Riomaggiore (obviously); however you will find more lodging options in Monterosso al mare (the largest and northernmost of the 5 towns). Vernazza is over-run with tourists, thanks to Rick Steves, and the prices there are higher than in the other 4 towns. It is lovely to visit during the day, but I would not necessarily stay there. There is a daily boat and train service to all 5 towns, so you could take the boat up or down and come back on either boat or train. You can buy the CT card from the train stations' info offices, the card comes in increments of 1-3-5-7 day access to all local area transportation (train, bus, boat, etc). In terms of walking a trail that is easy, as the others have said, I too would recommend the 20 minute walk along the Via Dell'More between Riomaggiore and Manarola that would be very manageable by your group. There are no steep inclines and it is quite lovely winding its way around the mountainside with ocean views below. Once in Manarola, eat at Il Porticello, on the main street heading towards the harbor on your R. My friends own it and they serve the best seafood around (IMO). Try the frutti di mare misto (fried mixed fish plate) or the insalata di mare (seafood salad). Penne pesto al trofie is another local CT favorite made with pesto and curly pasta, with small diced potatoes. I could go on and on about the delicious food....buon appetito!

If you want to take the train up to Portofino for a day trip, it is about 40 mins north, you get off at Santa Margherita Ligure and catch the local bus outside the train station that takes you around the small peninsula to charming Portofino. Camogli and Rapallo are other nice towns to visit in the area too for more local, less touristy flavor. Likewise, I would definitely plan a day trip (ferry boat ride) down to Portovenere (also mentioned previously). It is the Italians' Portofino and not as touristed as the former. Lord Byron, Percy Shelly and other poets lived in the area back in the 1800s. In fact, Lord Byron drowned in the Golfo dei Poeti (Gulf of Poets) there and you can see the memorial to him. Also, there is a Genovese fortress and church you can walk up to, along with lots of cute little ristorantes and shops along the waterfront. Portovenere and neighboring Lerici are fun destinations to visit.

Presumably, if you are staying at a hotel in the CT, your luggage would be there. Upon leaving, there are easy trains accessing Toscana out of La Spezia. It is under 1 hour to get to Lucca, Firenze, etc. from La Spezia. I never use a car when I am in Italia, I travel like the locals do on trains, busses, etc.

Have a wonderful time planning your trip for next year. Let me know if you would like additional information about anything.
Huitres is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 08:57 AM
  #8  
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Thank you zeppole & Huitres; both your responses were very helpful. We have rented a car because we land in Milan and are driving to Lake Como for 2 nights then 3 nights just wandering on down to the Portofino & Cinque Terre area before staying in a Villa in Tuscany for 2 weeks where we'll definitely need a car to tour this area; then on to Positano for 3 nights then (Rome and turning in our car) for 2 nights (we've been to Rome before) before flying home from Rome to Toronto.
Thank you,
Som
Sominex is offline  
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