Five Cinque Terre Villages – Getting There
For our visit to the five Cinque Terre villages, getting there was quite simple. The only common route to get there is by train. After our Pisa Self Guided Tour, we took a reserved train ride to La Spetzia. Nearly everyone going to the Cinque Terre five villages needs to reach the coastline from the south through La Spetzia. At La Spetzia our next train was unreserved seating that stopped at all five Cinque Terre villages. I thought this would be a slow train twisting along the mountainous coast, but it was a fast train that spent most of its time in tunnels. So, there weren’t many views.
Five Cinque Terre Villages – Vernazza
We chose Vernazza as our home base for our visit to the five Cinque Terre villages. The crowds at the Vernazza train station were a shock. We didn’t realize is was a holiday. People from all over Europe were visiting Vernazzza that day. Almost every train passenger got off here. There was no room to move at the small station or on the single main street of the small village of Vernazza. Not what we expected at all from the quaint little town.
Five Cinque Terre Villages – Lover’s Walk
Our Francamaria Rooms accommodation was great. The room had a view of the town square, the bell tower and the bay. After dropping our bags, we headed back on the train to the village of Riomaggiore. The train trip took only a few minutes. In Riomaggiore we took the waterfront Lover’s Walk to Manarola. A continuous line of hikers were making their Cinque Terre villages walk between Riomaggiore and Manarola on the Lover’s Walk. An attendants collects a small fee at the beginning of the Lover’s Walk. The path is level. The sea and coastline views were lovely. Padlocks were attached to chain link fences along the Lover’s Walk. The padlocks are symbols that couples are bound together by love.
Five Cinque Terre Villages – Manarola
At Manarola we picked a restaurant for dinner. We chose the restaurant with a picture posted of Rick Steves posing happily with the owner. Directly opposite this restaurant was one claiming they were recommended by Rick Steves. The meal was remarkable and inexpensive too. We had tofu pesto, tuna capriccio and spaghetti with meat sauce. All three of us raved about our meals. After dinner, the waiter scolded us that we should not tip for meals in Italy. The waiter also explained that the standard in Italy is separate pricing for seating or to go, but that either way we shouldn’t tip. After dinner we took the train back to Vernazza. Our Lover’s Walk was a perfect introduction to the five Cinque Terre villages.
Five Cinque Terre Villages – Monterosso al Mare
In the morning it was raining and we determined that we needed to leave right away if we hoped to see the Cinque Terre village of Monterosso al Mare. The desk at the Franamaria returned my passport. They only accepted cash for our room, but we knew that in advance. Then we took an early morning train to Monterosso al Mare. This gave us a 2 hour window before our train connection that would take us all the way to Nice, France.
Monterosso al Mare offered little to do in the rain that morning. So, we spent our time at a quaint cafe with the balcony right on the oceanfront. We listened to the rain drops, ate brioche crema and drank cafe latte. The lattes were amazing. My addiction to European lattes and pastry was already well established. A thoroughly enjoyable morning in tune with the Italian spirit that dictates you move slowly and only when completely ready to do so.