Cinque Terre, Italy

In preparation for our trip I have been researching topics such as potential accommodations, activities, landmarks, and transportation methods for each destination. I figure this will give us a better idea of the daily cost, and therefore help determine how long we will want to stay in each country. It will be interesting to see the difference between the ideas I have researched and what we actually do when we are on the road!

Click the small arrow button on the top left of the map header (left of where it says “Potential Destination”) to expand out additional details about many of the locations and activities described below.

U.S. Visa/Travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/italy.html
Currency:
http://ww.xe.com/currency/eur-euro

Cinque Terre is located between Genoa (Genova) and Pisa, Italy and made up of 5 fishing villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. While not typically seen as a budget-conscious travel location, particularly because of the high cost of sit down meals, I think we can make it happen if we eat cheap by skipping sit down meals, buying groceries in co-ops and local grocery stores, and eating lots of pizza and focaccia. And if we like it as much as I think we will, this may be a spot to hunker in and stay a while.

Helpful Websites

Accommodations

We would most likely stay in La Spezia or Levanto which are just 10-15 minutes away by train and considerably less expensive. According to friends of ours who recently went to Cinque Terre, another plus of staying in Levanto is that it is on the Northern end, which is the best starting point for views along Sentiero Azzurro hiking trail (described below). There are a few hostels in Cinque Terre area, running around $25-35 per bed for mixed dorms, which is pretty expensive when you are looking at paying for two beds. For the same amount we may be able to find an apartment all to ourselves on Airbnb. I found one for $50 in Levanto with a kitchen to prepare our food, and a balcony with water views to enjoy our meals (and wine of course).

Transportation

The closest airports to Cinque Terre are Genova and Pisa, which both offer international flights from most European cities. Which one we fly into would solely depend on the cheapest/best flight. We would then take the train from Pisa or Genova to Levanto (or whichever village we end up finding accommodations) which would cost around $12-18 per person. Train tickets can be purchased through Italiarail (https://www.italiarail.com). Each of the five towns has its own train station, so no matter  where we are staying we can travel into/between any of the Cinque Terre villages from there very easily. Train tickets cost $6 per person between the villages. I suspect walking, however, will be our main mode of transport within Cinque Terre.

Click for larger photos.
Source: Our friends Cody and Dallas, who recently visited Cinque Terre.

Landmarks/Activities

Hike the Trails

Speaking of walking, not only will we be hoofing it within the villages, but also using multiple hiking trails which connects the 5 villages. These trails are part of the Cinque Terre National Park, with the most popular being Sentiero Azzurro (the Blue trail/No. 2). As mentioned earlier, friends of ours recently visited the area and encouraged us to travel Sentiero Azzuro north to south for the best views. And it is all about the view during this hike! If we want to really stretch our legs, maybe we will hike Sentiero Rosso (the Red trail/No.1). This trail is considerably longer traveling from Porto Venere to Levanto, high above the Cinque Terre villages. It is about 24 miles long and can take between 9-12 hours to complete. Fortunately, it sounds like it is pretty flat for the most part and there are restaurants and bars interspersed along the way. 

To purchase entry to the trails we will have two options, buy the Cinque Terre Card or the Cinque Terre Card-Train. Basically, each gives you use of the park buses, access to trekking paths, and wi-fi internet connection (yup, you read correctly, wi-fi), while the Cinque Terre Card-Train gives the added bonus of unlimited train travel on the Levanto-Cinque Terre-La Spezia line (2nd class). Each comes in 1 or 2 day options, with Cinque Terre Card costing 7.50 Euro for the 1 day pass and 14.50 Euros for the 2 day pass, while the train option card costs 13 Euros for 1 day pass and 23 Euros for the 2 day pass.

Kayaking

We will most likely rent and venture out on our own for 6 Euros per hour per kayak, since Pete and I are experienced kayakers. There are some great looking Kayak tours (https://www.viator.com/tours/Cinque-Terre/Cinque-Terre-Kayaking-Trip-from-Monterosso/d22149-6531KAYAK?eap=lonelyplanet-main-6296&aid=vba6296en2) but they are not cheap, costing around $98 per person. One of the draws to Cinque Terre is how beautiful the buildings look from the water, stacked up on the hillsides with their pastel colored walls. Kayaking will give us the perfect vantage point to take some beautiful pictures and really get a sense of the landscape.

Torre Guardiola

This is a bird and nature observation center located just southeast of Riomaggiore marina on Fossola Beach. The building was a former naval installation in WWII, known as La Batteria Racchia. Another opportunity to see some amazing views. 

Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours

I suspect a large amount of time will be spent checking out local stores, people watching, and grabbing stuff for picnics, which will of course include a sampling of local wine. To further our exploration of the region’s wine, we will have to visit a local winery. Cantina Cinque Terre (http://www.cantinacinqueterre.com/en), is located about a 40 minute hike north of Manarola in the town of Groppo. Their signature wine is Sciacchetrà, a dessert wine the color of dark rum with notes of honey, fig, and apricot. Yum!! Sounds like it will be worth the hike. 

Any thoughts about our ideas above, or suggestions of “must see” activities/landmarks? Please include those below!