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Arriving in Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

August 26th · 37 Comments

From Montreux, we took a six hour train down to Vernazza, by way of Milan, to spend the next day and a half (two nights) in an area known as Cinque Terre, or “five villages.” Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage site (#826), with the region known for anchovies, pesto, and, of course, olive oil. It was added to the list in 1997 and I am glad it was, the place is wonderful.

About Cinque Terre

Cinque Terra is located on the Italian Riviera to the west of La Spezia. Here it is on the map:

Hiking Map of Cinque Terre

Hiking Map of Cinque Terre

It is a collection of five medieval villages connected by a train, boat, and hiking paths but inaccessible by car unless you’re a resident. We were staying in Vernazza, the second most northern of the five villages. The largest and most northern town is Monterosso al Mare. After Monterosso is Vernazza, then Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

The towns themselves are “tiny,” by all accounts, which adds to the quaintness of the whole experience. Vernazza, like many of the others, has only one main “road,” lined with all manner of shops and restaurants. That road leads to a “square,” that sits next to a “marina,” where kids can play. All those descriptions are in quotes because they are really small. πŸ™‚

Marina/Beach at Vernazza

Marina/Beach at Vernazza

View of Water at Vernazza

View of Water at Vernazza

Vernazza from the Pier

Vernazza from the Pier

Incredible Pizza

We got in at 3PM and didn’t have a lunch, since all of our travel was on trains, and after checking into our pension, Albergo Barbara (right on the square), we decided to get some food. We split a ham proscutto and mushroom pizza at some nearby pizza joint named Pizza da Ercole (it’s the only one that looks like a pizza joint, the rest all look like restaurants). The pizza was absolutely delicious and exceeded our expectations. You order at the counter, savor the smells of the wood burning stove, then move outside to enjoy your pizza. The pizza, and any beverages, are passed through a convenient windows/opening.

Martha at Pizza da Ercole

Martha at Pizza da Ercole

Jim Reacts to the Pizza

Jim Reacts to the Pizza

After some food, we hopped on a train to the southeastern-most village of Riomaggiore.

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37 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jan // Nov 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Going to Cinque Terra May 2010. Possibly using trains. Did you have a rail pass or just catch individual trains. How long did it take you to walk it?

  • 2 Jim // Nov 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Jan, we just bought individual train tickets. To walk the whole way would take several hours and some areas are a tougher hike than others. The only reasonable casual walk is between the lover’s walk between Manarola and Riomaggiore and that would probably take you an hour (it costs 5 euros to walk the #2 path, the easy walk between each of the towns). If you enjoy hiking, you can do it, if you’re trying to save money, I’d buy the train tickets.

  • 3 hi Jim // Jan 20, 2010 at 11:29 am

    hi Jim….just curious as to how you guys got to cinque terre from the airport say Milan Malpensa…did you take a train somewhere or bus or both?why did you choose vernazza to stay at vs. the other towns?..thanks John

  • 4 Jim // Jan 20, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    We took the train, the train system is pretty good there and the people at the station can usually direct you which train to take, where to change, etc.

    I’m not 100% sure why we chose Vernazza, Martha was in charge of that, I’ll try to get her answer and post it.

  • 5 Jose // Mar 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Planning a trip this summer. We are two families, 4 adults and 4 teenagers. Which village would you reconmmend most to find accomodations.

  • 6 admin // Mar 17, 2010 at 3:10 am

    We stayed in Vernazza and the Albergo Barbara was a nice size, though not for your size group. I think your best bet is somewhere in Monterosso, which is the largest of the villages and probably has some sizable accommodations. You can really stay anywhere in Cinque Terre and travel to the other villages easily (and it’s fun!).

  • 7 Julie // Mar 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    We are going to Lucca, Tuscany in May. We would like to go to the region of Cinque Terre, does anyone have any idea how we should get there from Lucca? We will have a car but don’t mind taking a train if is easier.

  • 8 admin // Mar 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I recommend the train, you won’t be able to bring a car into any of the villages unless you are a resident and there really isn’t a need to have a car there anyway (the towns are, for the most part, tiny).

  • 9 Ken // Apr 14, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    We (adults) are thinking of going to Cinque Terre in late September, driving in from Geneva to meet friends flying into Milan (they will travel to meet us in CT, probably by train). Then we go back north/west to Nice. Where do you suggest we drive and park to and stay a couple of nights so we can hook up with our friends? We thought of Rapallo or Chiavari where we can also go to a cooking school.

  • 10 Marcia // May 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Jim,
    We are going to Italy in 2011 and our travel agent just suggest Cinque Terra for our 3 week. It looks beautiful, my husband and I are older, however we are in good shape and walk alot. Will we have to climb up and down hills in all of the small towns? Do you feel that you need to speak Italian to go to this area?
    Thanks for the help.

  • 11 admin // May 4, 2010 at 4:30 am

    You won’t need to climb a lot of hills unless you decide to go on one of the hikes. The towns themselves are very small and connected by train, so there are alternatives to hiking.

    As for speaking Italian, it never hurts to speak the local language (or at least try!) but many people speak English.

  • 12 Deirdre // Aug 6, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Hi Jim! I want to visit Cinque Terre in September but am scared of heights, is the hill walking on ledges and such or can you navigate by road / path without having to look down!

    Regards

  • 13 Jim // Aug 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    It gets to be high, relative to the villages, but you’re never peering over a cliff. I never once felt scared and I’m not a fan of heights.

  • 14 Debbie // Aug 27, 2010 at 7:02 am

    My husband and I just returned from a 3 week vacation in Italy which included a 3 night stay in Cinque Terre. We stayed in Manarola, which we enjoyed very much because we found it to have a more local flavour than the others. The other towns seemed too busy. We stayed at an excellent quite B&B, the exceptional service called La Torreta. It’s right at the beginning of the town with an amazing view. You do have to walk down to the town which is really a 5 min walk but of course coming back is an uphill climb which we didn’t mind….you just take it slow and it’s really not a problem if you’re good with walking. We walked the entire path from one end to the other..took us alittle over 5 hours…but we took our time and stopped in each town along the way…it was an amzing experience if you like walking of course…:) Otherwise the train system is really good and not expensive.

  • 15 marina // Sep 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    how many km and approx. time would it take to walk the entire trail? are there options to what route one takes? going in november – would finding hostel accomodation be difficult last minute? thanks

  • 16 nella // Sep 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Hi
    Four of us are planning a trip to Sicily (base around Catania or Ragusa) June 2011 and wonder if anyone has had experience in renting a house or aptmt on the water to accommodate 2 couples. We will most likely be driving from Rome south so any advice on out of the ordinary towns along the way would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    N

  • 17 Ver // Oct 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    We were planning of spending a couple of days at monterosso next week but everyone is telling us that the weather is terrible. we were planning to drive up from Rome. Do you think we should leave it for our next trip to Italy, or is the news we are recieving exagerated

  • 18 » Maps.com Discount Coupon Codes // Nov 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

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  • 19 mike // Nov 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    if anyone could help me out. i am planning a 10 day trip here and would like any suggestions and input. i am leaving from rochester,ny. no set date or time frame. i am open to any help, thx

  • 20 Jasmine // Jan 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    We will be spending some time in Nice, France this summer and wanted to follow that with a trip to Cinque Terre… any advice on what rail station we should go to from Nice?

  • 21 Timmy // Feb 13, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Jasmin, you might want to try getting to Genoa or Ventimiglia and then getting a line to the villages. I went two summers ago after starting out on the CΓ΄te d’Azur, but my trip was a bit different because I went to Verona from Nice, then Bologna, then Cinque Terre, so I’m giving you advice but I wouldn’t take my word because I’m not ENTIRELY sure. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • 22 Heidi // Feb 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I spent several days in Cinque Terre about ten years ago – it’s a beautiful spot. Loved the trails and photo ops.

  • 23 Heidi // Feb 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    When I went to Cinque Terre, I took the train from Parma to La Spezia and then on to Riomaggiore. Afterwards, I took the train up the Italian Riviera to Genoa.

  • 24 Katrina // Mar 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    My finace and I are planning our honeymoon for August 2011. We are going to go to Venice for three days but would love to go to the Liguria Coast for a few days also. We’ll be flying from Dublin. Where would be the best place to fly to and how would we get to Cinque Terra? Also, how would we then get to Venice? Would renting a car from La Spezia to travel across to Venice be smart? We would obviously get rid of the car when we arrive to Venice.

  • 25 craig // Mar 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I will be staying in Pisa for several days in June and will want to take a day trip to cinque terra – will i be able to visit cinque terra in one day or should i plan on staying overnight?

  • 26 ROBERT // Mar 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Need input on getting to Cinque Terre from Monte Carlo, Monaco in October: info on train, car or ferry travel & time for each would be appreciated.

  • 27 Rosalind Barr // Mar 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    My ship will be in port in La Spezia the end of April. How can we get from there to the Cinque Terre? Riomaggiore or Vernazza.

  • 28 Le Bourreau // Apr 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Rosalind – that is a perfect place for your ship to be in port. There is a local train from La Spezia to Cinque Terre. It’s been a couple years, but I believe the trip is approximately 30 minutes. Cinque Terre is my favorite place in Italy. Enjoy!!!

  • 29 Tim // Apr 13, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Wishing I could go back to the Cinque Terre tomorrow. My wife and I went there three years ago in summer. Flew into Milan, train to Monterrosso. Stayed in Monterrosso, but got to all the other towns on foot or on the train – it is so easy. Monterrosso had good options for dining and a little night life. Rented chairs and a big umbrella on the beach one day and just hung out, getting tasty food and drink from the shops close by. We loved the fact that it was mostly Italians and other southern Europeans in Monterrosso, not over run with Americans. What a great place to relax and unwind.

  • 30 Paddy Dowling // May 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    How electric wheelchair friendly is travel in this area.? Are there lifts from train to squares? Are there lifts in hotels etc Can any of the walks be travelled by wheelchair?

  • 31 Paddy Dowling // May 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

    How electric wheelchair friendly is the area

  • 32 Jim // May 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I’m not sure, I didn’t think about it when I was traveling but I don’t think it’s very wheelchair friendly.

  • 33 VJ // May 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Jim,

    Just a little quirk – you and martha look like you could have done the walk – it was well worth it when we did it in 2005 and only takes about 5hrs for the someone with moderate to good fitness levels. Heading back there this coming August and looking forward to doing the walk again!!!! *though we have a couple travelling with us who will prob do the train πŸ™‚ Enjoy your travelling and I am bookmarking Martha & your blog

  • 34 sam // May 14, 2011 at 4:59 am

    My husband & I are thinking about travelling to Italy in March – & considering the CT – Is the weather still too cold to enjoy or is it a reigon best enjoyed in the warmer months?

  • 35 Jim // May 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    We probably could’ve and if/when we return, we’ll probably give it a try. πŸ™‚

  • 36 Carmel // May 17, 2011 at 6:28 am

    In lucca and want to go to cinque Terra by train. Want 4 star with soft bed. Any suggestions

  • 37 Dee Dee // May 30, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Please help with the best advice of nearest airport and tranportation to Lavanto, Italy.