Is there a way to take a one day trip to Cinque Terra from Florence? We'll be there in early October.
Brian, Yes, a day trip to the Cinque Terre is absolutely possible, although it will likely be a bit of a "long" day. Roberto has provided excellent directions (as usual) on getting there by car. Note that for driving in Italy, EACH driver must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. You'll also have to be VERY careful to avoid the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato areas, which are especially prevalent in Florence (heavy fines for EACH pass through the automated Cameras!). If you'd prefer to take the train, it's a very easy trip. Depending on which train you choose, travel time will be as short as 2H:40M with changes at Pisa Centrale and La Spezia Centrale (that time is for travel to Riomaggiore - a few minutes longer if going to the other towns). Use the Trenitalia website to research the rail journey. The trip may be via Regionale trains only, or using a combination of Freccia and Regionale. When travelling on Regionale trains, you MUST validate your tickets prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or you could face hefty fines which will be collected on the spot! If travelling on Freccia trains, you MUST have a valid reservation (which will be included if buying P-P tickets), which is specific to a particular train and departure time. If you don't mind getting an early start, a departure from Firenze S.M. Novella at 07:00 will get you to Riomaggiore at 09:58 (current one way fare listed at 13:30€ on that train). Happy travels!
Are you driving or taking a train? By car is about 1h 45min (to Riomaggiore). From Firenze take the A11 Firenze-Mare freeway toward Pisa. After Lucca take the raccordo (beltway) toward Viareggio then the A12 Freeway in the direction of Genoa. Exit at La Spezia. Go toward the City, follow directions to Riomaggiore or Cinque Terre (you basically follow the boulevards around the port of La Spezia). If you go by train it's at least 2 & 1/2 hours. You will take a train from Florence to Pisa. Change in Pisa and take a train to La Spezia. In La Spezia you take a Regional train for Genoa, which will stop in the 5 CT towns.
www.trenitalia.com for schedules.
Roberto and Ken---thank you for responding so quickly and with such useful information. We will be in Florence for a week and think a trip to cinque terra might work.