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Trip report Italian Rivera and Cinque Terre

Trip report Italian Rivera and Cinque Terre

Old Oct 5th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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Trip report Italian Rivera and Cinque Terre

I have just returned from a wonderful 6 days in Rapallo and the Cinque Terre which I highly recommend.
In June this year Ryanair had a great deal from London Stansted to Genoa for £8 return which included carry on and all taxes!! As I was looking for somewhere to go in September I booked it immediately and decided to spend 3 days in the Italian Rivera and 3 days hiking in the Cinque Terre.
On arrival in Genoa there is a bus outside the arrivals hall which takes you to the train station. The cost is 4 euro if you pay the driver and this ticket is a 24 hour ticket for all buses in Genoa. I understand that it is cheaper to buy a ticket from the machine if you are not intending to stay in Genoa for a few hours. I wasn’t but didn’t know this at the time.
Genoa railway station is a beautiful building and trains to Rapallo leave approx. hourly, the cost is 2.40 euro for a single journey and takes about 45 mins – a lot cheaper than the bus from the airport! I booked my ticket at the ticket office in the station and got the next train that stopped at Rapallo. The carriages, 2nd class, seated 6 people and I took an empty seat. Shortly after I sat down a very frustrated American lady screamed at me that I was in her seat. I looked around and there were no reservation stickers anywhere to be seen but apoligised and got up and gave her the seat. Her husband apoligised to me and said that they had all their seats booked for their train journeys but on every occasion a reservation sign had not been put on the seat and they always found other people sitting in their reserved seats. They were not the only people who had reserved seats with others sitting in them and I am afraid the Italians shrugged their shoulders and basically said they did not understand. My advice is don’t book seats on regional trains in Italy.
I choose Rapallo as I was travelling solo and found the prices for hotels to be cheaper here for a single traveller as opposed to Santa Margherita which was my preferred destination (Santa M is lovely). I booked through Venere at Hotel Italia e Lido which is on the seafront and it was excellent. I got a single room facing the sea with a small balcony for 63 euro per night B&B. The hotel contacted me and offered me half board for an additional 18 euro per night which was a reduction of 11 euro on their evening meal. The food was quite good – pasta or risotto to start, main course, choice of either fish or meat and dessert again, 2 choices or ice cream. As I was on my own this suited me very well but there are many very good restaurants in the area and I probably wouldn’t go half board again. Breakfast was fine except for the coffee which was awful, it was one of those machines that serve anything from a cappuccino to a latte – not good.
Next day I took the train to Santa Margherita and loved it. The buildings are beautiful, in lots of different colours and decorated with Trompe L’oeil frescos – gorgeous. I spent the morning wandering the town which is sumptuous and ended up at Villa Durazzo – what can I say about this place, the gardens the mosaic courtyards it was really lovely and a must for anyone visiting Santa M. Outside the villa and overlooking the sea is the church of San Giacomo one of several lovely churches.
In the afternoon I walked to Portofino which takes about 1 hour stopping for photo shots along the way. There is a pedestrian pathway for most of the journey which is just as well as the road is quite busy and narrow. The walk was very easy and had some lovely views along the way. On arrival in Portofino I was a little disappointed as it did not look at all grand however the prices in both the shops and the various restaurants and cafes were very grand!! This is a very expensive place and I felt it was a bit unreal somehow. Had a coffee which cost 3.50 euro and took the boat back to Rapallo. The boat journey was a lot more expensive than the train but definitely worth it, looking back on Portofino from the sea was very picturesque.
The following day was market day in Rapallo and if I had been self catering it would have been a real treat to go shopping at this market, the mushrooms, in particular the porcini’s where wonderful.
Wandered around the town and visited the cathedral in the centre which was impressive both inside and outside. The Oratorio Dei Neri looked lovely but as there was a christening going on I was only able to look through the door. Did some shopping in the lovely shops in Rapallo and then took the Cable Car to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro which is a lot easier than walking up the mountain. The walk to the sanctuary from the cable car is an avenue lined with beech, oak and chestnut trees to steep steps at the end. According to legend the virgin appeared to a farmer here and there is a fresco inside the choir which represents the apparition of the virgin to the farmer. There is a lovely walk around the sanctuary with brilliant views of Rapallo.

Next stop Cinque Terre
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Had the same feeling about Portofino when we visited it a few years ago, but we loved the walk from San Fruttuoso to Portofino.
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Old Oct 5th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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How great you took the cable car! I'm so eager to do it.

I think all the fun of Portofino is just taking the boat it. Or out. It is otherwise exactly as you reported.

You got a wonderful rate on Hotel Italia e Lido, and you are right that it is fun to shop for food in Rapallo!
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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Zeppole, great views from Montallegro and it was so easy with the cable car. I had intended walking down but it was very hot so I changed my mind. The hotel Italia e Lido was excellent highly recommended.
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Old Oct 6th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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I made my way to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre. The train service is regular but like all trains that I have ever experienced in Italy nearly always late, however I was in no hurry.

When you arrive in Monterosso it is a short walk through a tunnel to the old town where I was staying. My hotel was Albergo Amici which was just OK. When I booked it they insisted that I take half board and as the price was right I agreed but unlike my hotel in Rapallo the food was not good in fact 1 night it was inedible. The first course was a selection of 4 different pasta dishes which generally speaking were OK but the second course was not good. Breakfast however was excellent with OK coffee (better than Rapallo). The room was nice and again had a small balcony overlooking the roof gardens and washing lines of the village street – very amusing to watch the locals watering their plants etc.

I had a walk around the village and went to the tourist office to get information on the hiking trails in the area. I liked Monterosso; it has an old town and a new one and is the biggest of all the villages. I also felt that there were fewer tourists here and like everywhere on the Cinque Terre lots of places to eat or have coffee. The prices here are much cheaper than Rapallo or Santa M an Americano was generally 1 euro as opposed to 2 euro in Rapallo and a fortune in Portofino.

The following day I was up early, donned my walking boots and set off for my first hike from Monterosso to Verenzza and then onwards to Corniglia. The park is not free but you can buy a one way ticket or a pass for 1,2 or 3 days and this covers the park and the trains. I got a 2 day pass cost was I think about 10 euro. I am not the fittest in the world but neither am I unfit and I must say I found the steps up the mountain heavy going especially as it was 32c. The majority of people had walking sticks which I hadn't bothered bringing, I had also left home without my orthotics which didn't help. I was informed by another person coming in the opposite direction that east to west is much easier than the way I was doing it west to east. Arrived in Vernazza and a cold fizzy water with lots of ice in an outside cafe was sheer nectar! Vernazza is very picturesque but also the most crowded of all the villages and I felt the most touristy, the castle is a must but your pass does not cover it. I stopped for a light lunch here and then continued on my way to Corniglia, perhaps my legs were getting used to all the climbing but I did not find this leg of the journey as difficult as the first. All along the trails there are grape vines, lemon trees and in places the smell of wild basil fills the air. The views in some areas are brilliant.
Corniglia is at the top of a hill and the train station is near the bottom – more steps. I think this was probably my least favourite of the villages but by the time I got here I was quite tired which is perhaps the reason.

The next day I took the train to Riomaggorie and made the mistake of walking up the hill from the train station and then back down to the village – if you turn right you walk along a long tunnel to the village and the port. Took a boat to Portovenere (not covered with the pass) which was very nice but in retrospect I wish I had taken it from Monterosso instead. Spent some time wandering around the town and having a coffee then took a bus to the train station in La Spezia and train back to Riomaggorie. The trail from Riamaggorie to Manarola starts basically at the railway station up two flights of steps and is very very easy. It is paved the whole way and also has a hand rail. I rather liked Manarola although it was quite small and I would think staying in it for 3 days would be a little quiet, however it was a very nice spot to stop have a coffee and move onwards towards Corniglia. The path here is not strenuous but it is arduous and very uneven under foot. It is also not very nice at the other end near Corniglia but does have some lovely views along the way.
Up several more flights of steps to the train station and back home to Monterosso.

The following day it was back to Genoa for my flight home. I had checked the train schedule on the board outside the station and it showed a train leaving at 08.45 but when I arrived there was no mention of it on the monitor at the station. I asked the lady in the ticket office and she said it was cancelled and I had to take the next train to Sestri Levantri and change there for Genoa. This journey took almost 3 hours in total as both trains stopped at every station, I advise anyone doing this to check with the ticket office in advance and not rely on the boards outside unless you speak fluent Italian. Luckily I had plenty of time so it did't really matter but it was a long boring journey. The good thing was it left me at the station I had departed from so I knew where to get the bus to the airport and bought a ticket from the machine outside the bus stop rather than the driver.

I didn’t really have time to see and do all that is possible in this lovely area but I will most definitely go back again.
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Old Oct 11th, 2009, 04:21 PM
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What a wonderful report, thank you. I will be headed to that area in May and your report was most helpful.
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Old Oct 11th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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Thanks for sharing your holiday with us, we hope to go in May 2011 so I will be keeping your walking notes.
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