October 27, 2019 Cinque Terre IT

Todays trip was driven by the weather.  So far the weather has been spectacular, the one day it did rain it was nice enough to do it during the night and by morning the sun was out again.  But our good luck is changing and we are supposed to get a week of rain, starting tomorrow night.

One of Ton’s bucket list items on this trip was the Cinque Terre.  This location is really weather dependent, and since today was the last guaranteed good day for a while we decided to head over from Florence.  We will end up heading back into Tuscany for a more extended visit once we are done here.

One of the pastel colored villages in the Cinque Terre.

We were up bright and early, and it turns out today was the day Europe Falls Back from Daylight savings time.  With our early start we covered the 140km’s to La Spezia quickly and arrived at the Sosta on the outskirts of La Spezia at 9am.  After a quick breakfast it was off to the train station to buy our two day Cinque Terre pass.

The Cinque Terre is a series of 5 coastal villages carved into the sides of cliffs along the Ligurian Sea.  They are part of an Italian National Park as well as UNESCO Heritage sites.  While they are difficult to reach by road, the Italian Railway has carved tracks that connect them all.  This is by far the best way to explore the Cinque Terre.  A two day pass is only €27 per person and allows unlimited trips on the line between La Spezia and the five towns (it also includes free access to the walking trails between the towns, and the bathrooms in the train stations!).

One of the UNESCO listed villages on the Cinque Terre.

As today was the only guaranteed good day we picked the three largest villages, Riomagiorre, Vernazza, and Monterosso.  They are all in spectacular settings with small harbors at the bottom of steep roads leading to the ocean.  

We started the day in Riomagiorre and as we got off the train we heard a lot of Thai being spoken all around us.  It turns out we had stumbled into a tour of about 25 Thai.  We listened into the guide for a while until he caught on and we introduced ourselves.  He thought it was funny.

The harbor in Riomagiorre.

Monterosso is the largest of the towns and has the largest of the harbors but probably the least spectacular setting.  I was a little disappointed when I saw a big parking lot on the edge of town with about 20 RV’s parked in it.  It turns out this is the one place you can camp in the Cinque Terre.  I missed it in my app because it was listed as parking and not a Sosta.  In Italy I am not looking at parking areas like I have in France and Germany as places to stay only Sostas and Campgrounds.

The beach at Monterosso.

Vernazza is the smallest of the towns we visited today and is considered by most people to be the prettiest of the towns.  It only has one main road that leads down to a small harbor.  As you walk down to the harbor you see pictures of a massive flash flood that shot down the road in 2011.  After walking around town we headed up on to one of the trails that connect all of the towns on the Cinque Terre.  We wandered up there by accident but the view was so good we kept going.  At one point Ton was shooting some pictures when she overheard 4 Thai taking turns taking pictures of each other, she could not resist and asked if they wanted a picture of all 4 of them.  They reciprocated by taking pictures of us.

The hiking trail between Vernazza and Monterosso, it is steep in this stretch, there are vineyards on the right behind the fence.

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