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Cinque Terre or Venice

We're (my husband and I) going to be in Lucca for 10 days with a tour group and will be going off on our own for 8 days. We're trying to decide if we should go to Cinque Terre for 2 days or Venice for 2 days. We'll be in the Malin area for 5 days with family reunion stuff, so that only gives us 2 days extra days for a side trip. Which would you do?

Posted by
891 posts

Doug is right! Venice for sure. CT is nice but looks like small seaside towns everywhere. And because Rick and other travel guru's have made it well known, it's more crowded than ever. Venice is unique, and truly unlike anywhere else. My husband and I love Venice, and at the end of a trip Venice seems more relaxing, even though we walk a lot, because you don't have to bother with traffic.

Go to Venice!

Posted by
10344 posts

For what it's worth, the Europe travel experts at Michelin Guidebooks give Venice *** and many pages, and Cinque Terre ** and only a quarter of a page--same as Doug and Mimi. If you're a Rick-o-fanatic (and let's face it, aren't most of us here--but can we allow ourselves to be totally controlled like robots by his preferences and marketing strategies?) and all you did is see Rick's videos or read his book, you'd assume Venice and the CT are equivalent in touristic value (whatever that means). However, it also depends on what you're looking for: the two destinations are totally different, if all you want to see is quaint villages perched at the base of awesome sea cliffs, then you toss Venice in the waste bin, I guess.

Posted by
14 posts

Cinque Terre without a doubt. We stayed in Vernazza, arrived mid-day the first day, then hiked up to Monteroso. We wandered the town and enjoyed a cold drink, then took the train back to Vernazza and found a great restaurant where the owner came by and sang us a song. After a bottle of wine at the harbor, we crashed in a great little room. Then next day we hiked the rest of the way down to Manarola and took the boat back. After a hot hike, we swam in the sea (Vernazza's bay) again and relaxed in Vernazza. We loved our time in Venice, but will always go back to Cinque Terre because its so magical. Thank you "Uncle Rick" for this recommendation.

Posted by
3313 posts

There is no choice. Venice is one of the world's great sights. It should be on everyone's life list. From Milan (I hope you mean Milan) it's an easy train trip - easier than going to the CT.

Yes, the CT is pretty. But it's a confection, recommended by Rick as a "vacation from your vacation". It's not a destination to be chosen as an alternative to Venice.

And, rereading your original post, if you're going to be in Lucca for 10 days, why wouldn't you do the CT as a day trip from there?

Posted by
32266 posts

paula,

It depends what kind of an destination you'll want at that particular point in your trip. If you want Museums, Galleries and lots of crowds (especially during the day), then Venice would be a good choice.

If you would prefer a quieter and more restful location for il dolce far niente, then the Cinque Terre is definitely the better choice. You could hike a few of the trails, have some great Pesto, Wine and seafood and enjoy the fantastic and very scenic area.

Given that you only have two days, you'll want to minimize your travel times to either location. The CT is a bit closer to Lucca than Venice is. Reaching any of the CT villages from La Spezia is not difficult (for example, the trip from La Spezia to Riomaggiore is only about 8 minutes). I believe it's also a shorter travel time to Milan than Venice is, but I haven't checked.

Happy travels!

Posted by
12 posts

These are my wife and my two favorite places. Venice is wonderful and unique, but expensive and a fairly long train ride away from Milan. Cinque Terra is wonderful, expecially if you like to hike and eat tuscan food. Given you are coming from Lucca, I would say Cinque Terra, but it is a hard choice.

Posted by
3313 posts

Ummm, Mark - Venice is about two hours from Milan by train. Much closer than the CT. And the CT is not noted for Tuscan food. Though close to Tuscany, it's on the sea and much more oriented to seafood and Genovese cuisine.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone for your input. I think we're leaning towards CT for the RR befor the busy family reunion. However, my husband has never been to Venice and I doubt if (at our age) we'll ever get back to Italy...so many places...so much to see.

Posted by
319 posts

If you're in Lucca for 10 days, I would go to Venice. Not only because it is VENICE, but it would be nice to see another region.

Posted by
1294 posts

Paula- this is kinda a fun game. I've been to both. Since you said you may not get back to Italy, I asked myself this": Knowing what I know now. if I had to choose of only getting to see one in my lifetime, which would it be. That made it easy for me: Venice. Everyone should see Venice once in their lifetime. (my opinion of course) Yes it is crowded, yes it is sinking, yes it is expensvie BUT it is also a magical, unique place unlike any other I have been to in my lifetime. I count standing in San Marco square listening to the "dueling" orchestras as a highlight of my life. It was so "venetian". Whatever you decide, you will have a great trip. Enjoy

Posted by
40 posts

Paula,

You don't mention when you will be traveling. That does make a difference, for instance Venice has floods in the winter, Dec '08 they had 5 feet of standing water everywhere.

We were in Italy for two weeks this past October. and spent two nights in both Venice & Cinque Terre. If you enjoy hiking, I would encourage you to go to Cinque Terre and hike to one or several of the small towns, the scenery is incredible. Beware tho to get to our B&B we had 102 steps to walk. If you go to either know that if you are a wine drinker you can take take a liter water bottle and have it filled for 1-2
euros. Either choice you will have a wonderful time.
I could give you the name of the places we stayed in
Venice and Cinque Terre, I would recommend both places to anyone. Happy Travels

Connie Richert

Posted by
1003 posts

I love both of these places! What month will you be in Italy? Would you spend the night in your choice destination? It is a tough decision but if you are going to be in Milan the C.T. would be closer and you would have more time to spend here.

In the last 6 years our family has been to Venice 3x and the Cinque Terre 2x, always in the summer when our kids are out of school. They are both beautiful and you can't go wrong with either.

Our first trip to the C.T. in 2002 we left our car in La Spezia and trained in just for the day. We knew we had to return and spend more time here so we returned in 2006, coming from southern France and spent 3 nights in Vernazza. Loved every minute and it is particularly magical in the evening when all the daytrippers have left for the night.

I do remember the first time I saw Venice in 2002--felt like I was in a dream as it is so beautiful. Have returned 2x since and have loved every minute spent here. We enjoyed Murano and Burano and just getting "lost" in Venice.

Good luck with your decision and have a great trip!!!

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you for your suggestions. Do you have a favorite place to stay in either CT or Venice. We'll be there the first week in May and would like a nice place that's not going to break the bank. And I don't know if my knees could handle 102 steps everytime we wanted to go to our room.

Posted by
49 posts

Go to Venice. It's unlike any other place - When I took my first trip to Italy, I assumed I wouldn't be back and went, reluctantly to Venice. I only went because everyone said -"you must". They were right. It is a beautiful, enchanting place and it should be nice in early May. Venice is one of those major sites - a jewel, with lots of history and culture. Not matter where you end up - I'm sure you'll have a great trip. Enjoy!

Posted by
12172 posts

Venice is a unique destination. CT is a relaxing place.

If you have to choose, take Venice.

Posted by
1294 posts

Paula- We stayed at Alloggia Alla Scala in 2003 and 2008. We paid around 85 euros a night (with a cash discount) It is centrally located between Rialto, The Acadamia bridge and San Marco. The location is wonderful. It is in Rick's Italy book. You do have a staircase to get you your room- maybe 14 steps. If you decide on the Cinque Terre, you might try the web site http://www.acasa5terre.it/houses.html or google acasa5terre. They have some choices in all the of towns. The owner Claudio is very helpful and could let you know about stairs, etc. We used his booking service and were very pleased with the results. Wherever you go, I think you will have an awesome trip.

Posted by
16 posts

Let me also chime in and cast a vote for VENICE.

I know that Rick Steves has seemingly singlehandedly elevated the Cinque Terre to a 'must see', but really Venice is MUCH higher on the list of places to visit in Italy.

Admittedly, Venice can be more expensive for accommadations, but after all, it's Venice! And for your short visit, you definitely want to stay on the island itself and NOT on the Lido and NOT on the mainland, 'Venice Mestre'. That being said, on the island there are 6 different siestere (districts) and because the island is small, it's okay to stay in any of these areas. Everyone is most familiar with San Marco ..... yet it can be an easy walk from Dorsoduro (across the Academia bridge) and frankly, the siesteres outside St. Mark's can be a tad less inundated w/ day-trippers.

Several years ago, I stayed at Hotel Galleria (think it's still mentioned in Rick Steves book) .... and when he describes it as 'quirky', he's spot on. Yet, it is well located, overlooking the Grand Canal adjacent to Accademia Bridge. CAVEAT -- I don't recall it having an elevator, however think the rooms are only up 1 flight of stairs).

http://www.hotelgalleria.it/

I looked on the Hotel Galleria's website, and it does suggest they're in San Marco. They are in Dorsoduro.

Also, may review a few other travel forums . . .
Venice Hotel recommendations ~ ~ ~
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2

And another thread on the topic (albeit, some of these suggestions may or may not be in price range)

Favorite Hotel in Venice ~ ~ ~
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=35145445

Posted by
934 posts

I too like the CT very much but Venice is unlike any other place ive ever been to.Going to Milan is easy from Venice.

Posted by
586 posts

I agree, I think, with those who say, emphatically, VENICE! But I would add one simple caveat: if you prefer to spend those two days lounging on a beach or watching the sea and letting the world go by, surrounded by natural beauty, go with Cinque Terre. However, if you prefer to explore, to see some tremendous art, architecture, and culture, to spend your days wandering and shopping and eating amid people from all over the world, many with their mouths dropped open--as yours will be--choose Venice. I would find it hard to relax much in Venice, but at the same time, I would find it hard to do any of the above mentioned activities in Cinque Terre. Which do you prefer? That's really the question here.

Posted by
7737 posts

I agree with the consensus. The CT are charming but Venice is unique (it's also easier to get around in). We like Pensione Guerrato there - a RS recommendation as well.

Also, early May is a little early for the weather to be really CT weather. We were in Venice last May (our second time) and it was wonderful. (Be sure to stay in Venice proper, not on the mainland or the Lido.)

Posted by
515 posts

V.E.N.I.C.E.

Magical. And even more perfect when the cruise ship crowds leave. Stroll, get lost, have a gelato, admire, listen, enjoy.

Posted by
2 posts

Venice. CT will be like California with an accent. Venice is a lifetime experience.

Posted by
7737 posts

There is a trick to having a relaxing experience in Venice - avoid the high tourist spots during the 10 to 4 time period. Venice is much more than the Rialto and St. Mark's Square (although those should not be missed).

Or take a ferry ride (vaporetto) to the nearby islands for a wonderful, relaxing time (Murano and Burano in particular.)

Posted by
108 posts

I love CT and can't wait to go back there. But for this trip I would say Venice. There's nothing like it and you live in California after all, you can have a beach vacation next year! Not to mention if you have bad knees, CT is probably not the place for you. Go to Venice you will love it.

Posted by
12172 posts

Venice.

Yes it's touristy if you go in high season but so is CT.

CT is great for a relaxing break from an otherwise hectic vacation, it's pretty but isn't on a par with Venice.

Even if you go in the fall, the floods are nothing. They seem to have one to two days every ten years that get anywhere close to a "flood". Normally they get only a handful of aqua alta days and most often it looks like some rainwater formed in pools in St. Marks square while you don't notice anything elsewhere. Even on bad days it's gone before mid day.

Posted by
11507 posts

I have not been to CT, but I have been to Venice, twice.

I would choose CT.

Venice is crowded and touristy,, ( same complaints I hear about CT actually) . It is also expensive and has bad food ( ok, that is subjective, but I have just not lucked out with a good meal there, that was reasonably priced anyways) .

I like hiking more then shopping . And sorry , ST Marcos was a let down after seeing many other spectacular churches in Italy and France before.

Yes, Venice is pretty along the Grand Canal.. but I think it would be nice to hike from village to village along the Medeterrian,, I mean that sounds special to me too.

I know many people just love Venice, and its not that I didn't think certain things were very nice, but really, it just did not blow me away... and I like good food so that was a big one for me. I guess if I had spent more time reseaching restaurants I would have had better luck,, and many a bigger budget would have helped too!

Can you do both ??

Posted by
8 posts

Been to Venice twice - heading to CT end of March. I don't care how good CT will be - Venice is Venice and you can't miss it. To just stand at the station and see the canal is a trip in itself.

Posted by
188 posts

Not sure of your route--are you in Lucca first and then on to Malin/Milan?? Is there an extra day? 8 days - 5 family = 3?
If so, can you squeeze in a night in the CT on your way from Lucca to Milan and then do 2 nights in Venice from Milan? Both Venice and the CT are so different but I'm glad we were able to spend some time in both places, about 10 years ago now.

Posted by
6 posts

I have been to both places. IMO, Venice is a magical and unique place. Really, there is no place on Earth like it. You will fall in love with it, without a doubt. The CT is fun, but if you've never been to Venice, you just HAVE to go! It's so different from any other place in Italy or anywhere else in the world! And it's totally do-able in a couple of days!

Posted by
251 posts

You mean you'll be based in Milan? Anyway, if you haven't been to either it may depend on what you want. If you love scenic hikes and relaxing small towns then Cinque Terre would be perfect. But if that's not your first priority or your first absolute interest, then I would definitely recommend Venice. It's got great art, great churches, and it's different than every other city in the world. So, if you're on the fence, I would lean toward Venice, as it's quite a unique experience.

Posted by
891 posts

Paula,
What have you decided? VENICE! Take a look at Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo. I booked it after looking at a lot of reviews, then got Rick's book and it was there. We have never stayed close to St. Mark's, we stay in areas that are a little more quiet, but everything is walkable and that's the charm of Venice. We have been there in April, October and November and never seen a flood. Please let us all know what you have decided, and then what your thoughts are after your trip. Don't forget to ask (when you are making your reservation) whichever hotel you decide on if they will give you a RS discount. Have a great trip.

Posted by
340 posts

I just saw this question for the first time today, so you may already have made your decision and hotel arrangements. If you are leaning towards Venice I would like to recommend a lovely boutique hotel that is well worth the small splurge that it costs. Locanda Orseolo www.locandaorseolo.com. We stayed there in Sept. 2007 and are booked for this coming August. They get great reviews from trip advisor, too. It is a small, elegant, but warm and friendly hotel just off of Piazza San Marcos overlooking a small canal. The staff is outstanding and they prepare probably the loveliest breakfast (included) we have had on all of our travels in Europe. This hotel is not as inexpensive as some of the RS recommendations , but it is not outrageously expensive either, and it is a lovely treat to give yourself in such a special city. If you book direct they will often give you a special rate. Cinque Terre is one of our favorite places, too, but if your knees are not that great you may not enjoy all the area has to offer.

Posted by
304 posts

What a choice! You can't go wrong with either. I'd stay in the CT, since it's only about an hour from Lucca by train.
If you stay in the Cinque Terre, I'd recommend Riomaggiore. Vernazza gets all the attention, but Riomaggiore is absolutely wonderful. My favorite of the five. Other people who I have talked to agree.