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Posted by
7050 posts

That sounds like good news, not bad news - for visitors, locals and the towns themselves. There's not enough detail in here to ensure this will work as intended (they definitely need to get data first and then fine tune the ticket allocation to hit the sweet spot of "not too many/not too few" based on the peak period) but as long as it doesn't discriminate between different classes of tourists and give the appearance of unfairness, then it has the potential to be an improvement over the status quo.

Posted by
1237 posts

To me, this sounds like good news. I was last there May 2015 and the trains were packed like sardines. The tourists were the rude ones, I could see why the locals got annoyed. Trying to walk through Vernazza was like going through a mob. But, at least I knew the area well enough to get away during the day and visit the other towns.

Posted by
3580 posts

This may not be true. Remember the rumor that wheeled luggage was to be banned in Venice? Anyway, the CT is too crowded much of the time. It can't handle the mobs comfortably. Trains are sometimes dangerously overcrowded. Find another "riviera" spot if you can. I still go to the CT but in the off-season.

Posted by
7078 posts

A splendid idea! Should have been done sooner. Just hope the cruise ship tours don't buy up all those 'cards' and make it harder for individual tourists to get them.

For the previous posters: it's easy to blame RS but, believe me, he's not the only travel guru promoting the CT. He may have a widespread readership but I doubt that 2.5 million visitors a year are going there just because of him. Wow, what power the man has! lol

Posted by
1890 posts

My husband I first visited the villages back in 2000. Hubby wants to go this year and hike (the open trails) I've been hesitant because of this board and RS promotion of the region. We have a hotel reservation, and now I'm considering canceling it.

We do not enjoy the big cities of Italy, and CT has become a big city.

When we were there, cruise ships weren't. We were there when it was still quaint. Don't want to go back and see it become Disneyland. i.e. don't want to stand in line to walk the trails, or for a meal.

Posted by
7209 posts

Well actually it sounds like good new to me, too. It's just bad news if you were planning on visiting this overrun tourist destination this summer.

Personally - I think that are many beautiful places in Italy that surpass the CT. Been there once and that's enough for me.

Posted by
1972 posts

From what I've observed, there are not many popular Italian destinations one can visit between May & September without encountering hordes of tourists almost at every turn. A couple of options, however. Either visit the areas less traveled--provinces like Molise or Basilicata, heck, the whole Adriatic Coast...or travel off-season.

We chose the latter last year, early in March. Coming down from Switzerland by train, we spent 5 days at an apartment in Florence on the 15th century Piazza Santa Maria Novella, a stone's throw from the train station. Believe it or not, even in the chilly temps and wind, the main attractions were still very crowded on the weekends, but during the weekdays it was sublime. Walk wherever you want, not worry about getting a selfie stick in the eye, no reservations needed for most any restaurant. And the locals seemed to be less on edge with less people about--at least that was my perception.

Then we took the train down to Salerno, where up til the last couple years, was not crowded at any time of year. But since the cruise ships recently chose Salerno as a base on their itineraries, according to our B&B owner it's been overrun at times in high season. But for us in March, we encountered only the occasional retired traveling couple and locals--that's it. The less-than-an-hour train trip to Pompei and bus ride to Amalfi was laid-back, on time, and wonderful. In Pompei it seemed like we had the magnificent ruins to ourselves. And Amalfi was just getting going for the season--we lunched at a café on the water that had just opened for the season.

Traveling off-season may not be for everybody, and the potential inclement weather can be a little pain at times, but at least for me it's a far better choice than constantly waiting in lines and dealing with the 'ugly American' syndrome, but believe me, we in the States don't have a patent on that kind of boorish behavior either.

Posted by
1829 posts

In theory this is good news not bad for those who are on this site and planning the trip in advance.
However the implementation sounds very poorly thought out.

As a hotel guest in one of the 5 towns if I am denied access to the footpaths directly next to our hotel because a bunch of cruise ship day visitors got to the ticket gate before me or the ship bought the tickets before I could ; that would be messed up!

The should provide each hotel location with an allocation for each room.
The folks staying in the towns for multiple days are supporting the area with big money, it is the influx of day trippers and cruise ship visitors that have made it too crowded.

Let's hope they do this the right way.
And hopefully someone will post on the board as soon as they notice tickets for sale, so us with planned trips for this year can buy them in time,

Posted by
16114 posts

It'll be interesting to see how the program is implemented what with summer schedules for many tours - cruise/coach and small group - very likely booked at this point. I can't argue with the need, though, and the experience will be more pleasant with fewer numbers. The locals will be able to breathe a little easier as well.

This line from the Genova Repubblica piece below may be the sum of local sentiment:

"….flows of arrivals are (needs to be?) rationalized more sustainably or the villages will empty. Who was it, Croce?, saying, woe to the country that is full of guesthouses."

Reuter's just released this:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-italy-tourism-restrictions-idUKKCN0VP26A

And the Italian news piece that thelocal.it referenced:

http://genova.repubblica.it/cronaca/2016/02/16/news/troppi_turisti_alle_cinque_terre_numero_chiuso_su_treni_e_sentieri_-133505391/?ref=search

I'm not 100% sure from a rough translation but it sounds like the C.T. card may become mandatory to access the villages at all by bus, train or boat whereas currently it's only required for the trails. It also sounds like numbers allowed on the trails may swing based on weather and individual trail condition.

The park's website will probably be one of the first sources to issue definitive information so it'll be a good thing to keep an eye on.

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Eindex.php

Posted by
32268 posts

This is not necessarily all "bad news", but it remains to be seen what the actual impact will be. Unfortunately the Cinque Terre has become a victim of its own success, and that's not totally due to a certain travel writer from Edmonds. A relaltive in the U.K. told me about the area long ago. One thing that's abundantly clear is that the present situation can't be allowed to continue, with tourist numbers (especially day trippers and cruise ship groups) growing every year. The small towns simply can't handle it.

The first part of this initiative seems to be limiting access to the Sentiero Azzurro trails, which is reasonable. The news article doesn't say if that will include the many other trails in the area. Hopefully the local authorities will use some of the extra funds from the Passes to accelerate repairs to the S.A. trails. I have a difficult time understanding why the Via dell' Amore has been closed for almost four years. As I recall, the segment between Manarola and Corniglia has been closed longer than that. With some extra funds, maybe they can get moving and provide tourists with trails to hike for the fees they're being charged. Charging full fees to only hike two segments of the S.A. doesn't seem fair.

If it becomes too difficult for cruise ship and other tour groups to visit the Cinque Terre, it will be interesting to see which destination they move to. The thousands of tourists that disembark from the docks in Livorno and elsewhere in that area will have to go somewhere. Hopefully the cruise ship firms don't get a monopoly on the C.T. Passes, to the exclusion of all others.

I expect that whatever measures they put in place will have to be "fine tuned" so they don't dissuade visitors from going to the Cinque Terre at all, and hotel and restaurant business starts to decrease. If rumours start to circulate online that the C.T. is "hard to visit", people will have second thoughts about even going there. The businesses in the five towns are making a good living from tourists and I'm sure they don't want the numbers to start dropping too much. I'm not sure I would characterize the five towns as "fishing villages" these days (as described in the article) but instead "tourist destinations".

I don't know how Trenitalia would implement a special "tourist train" just for that area? They could certainly adjust the schedules so that most trains just zip through the five towns and fewer trains actually stop there. Would the tourist train only be for day trippers, or would people who were going to spend time (and money) staying in the five towns be able to travel on a regular train? Would it still be easy for tourists who are staying there to visit each town via the local trains?

I'll be interested to see how this evolves.

Posted by
16114 posts

I can't figure how the 'special' train would work either. What northern and southern points would it run between, and would it involve changes which aren't currently necessary for all of the trains through the region? For instance, we came into Monterosso from Pisa without a change, and went on to Milan without a change.

Posted by
1745 posts

The special train proposal I've read about would be primarily for cruise passengers and utilize an existing smaller La Spezia train station called Migliarina.

Posted by
16114 posts

Ah, thanks for that, Mike. I didn't see that info in any of the articles I've run across yet (or I missed it).

Posted by
32268 posts

Mike,

I hadn't seen that either but it makes sense. I wonder what tactic they will use for the large European tour groups that arrive by Coach, which often park in Levanto and then take the short four minute train ride to Monterosso?

Posted by
15487 posts

They can limit access to the trails in the national park, and they can also forbid cars totally (except residents), but I don't see how they can limit the people who go to the towns by train.

Most of the cruiseiders I presume go by coach to either Levanto or La Spezia, then proceed by train.

They can have trains just for tourists from Migliarina, but they can't decrease the number of trains. Local residents rely on the same trains too. Unless they have trains that can be used only by residents. But I don't see how that could be implemented.

Posted by
1 posts

Here is my dilemma. I have already pre-booked two hotel rooms for (4) of us for (4) nights in Monterosso al Mare at Hotel Pasquale for Late June/Early July. Can they really deny us access to our hotel that we have already pre-paid for? This seems to be discouraging as we are already booked travel to and from as well...

Posted by
32268 posts

rabineil,

Not to worry. Continue with your plans to visit the Cinque Terre, and I suspect your stay at Hotel Pasquale will be a highlight of your trip. Have a look at this other thread on the subject....

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/no-limits-in-cinque-terre

I doubt there will be many changes in the near future, so you shouldn't have any problems. Pasquale is a great location, as you're right across the street from the beach in the "old town".

Enjoy!

Posted by
16114 posts

No, I cannot imagine that travelers with hotel reservations would run into ANY difficulties… even if they do end up imposing certain restrictions at some point. Keep those reservations, and have a great time!

Posted by
4535 posts

The devil will be in the details but this is generally good news and a step many other places are taking. Many sites and museums are implementing timed ticket entry to reduce the numbers of visitors. Tourism is a boon for local economies but can have very negative impacts on sites and museums. And massive crowds make visiting unpleasant for the tourists themselves. But the flip side is many people are now being turned away because no more tickets are available (it has happened to us several times). People that like to travel with maximum flexibility are at a distinct disadvantage nowadays.

Most of the blame at the CT is on cruise ships and bussed in group tours. I'll refrain from offering my opinions on such things overall, but they do flood small areas with massive numbers of people in short timeframes. And I worry their lobbying will still give them priority access to the limited tickets sold.

Almost for sure people staying in hotels overnight will be given passes automatically as part of their reservations. It could impact those just showing up on the fly and hoping to find a place to stay.

Posted by
8236 posts

I feel so blessed to have hiked these trails 30 years ago when we were the only Americans on the trail and the whole area had not been turned into Disneyland. It may be time for either traveling to less well known countries or exploring things back home.

Posted by
32268 posts

For those planning to visit the Cinque Terre, I'd suggest carrying on with your plans as usual. Nothing has been decided yet or "written in stone", so for now it's status quo. There will be times during the day (~10:00-16:00) when the towns may be crowded with tour groups, but if you're out touring at those times that shouldn't be a problem. Some of the towns handle crowds better than others, so choosing where to stay may also help. Those staying in Corniglia may have few problems with crowds during the day.

Posted by
226 posts

Santa Margherita Ligure gets my vote! Nice town and few crowds - right on the Riviera. Good restaurants right at the water front. Just wander the streets and up the hill.

Portofino is nearby and an easy bus ride - or a nice 3-mile hike or run, if you're into that.

There's a great little .5-mile hike/walk out to the Portofino lighthouse from the main Portofino piazza. You pass by a bright church and a nice castello, overlooking the Ligurian Sea.