We are staying in a villa 30 KM south of Florence the first week of May. From what I can tell through viamichelin.com the drive from our villa to Riomaggiore is about 162 km which should take about 2 1/2 hours. I have read that there is a parking lot or garage there that I hope will be easy to find. We would like to see Riomaggiore then walk to Manarola-but is the coast trail open or closed? RS March News said the coast trails would be closed until Spring - but how do we know? Is Riomaggiore the best option with a car? Has anyone done a boat tour to see other towns? Thanks for any ideas!
Susan, Your best bet will probably be to use the relatively new car park near the station in La Spezia, and take the local trains to Riomaggiore (or other towns). The trip from La Spezia to Riomaggiore is only about 9 minutes. Regarding the trails, they're all still showing "closed" but it's expected that at least some will re-open around the beginning of April when tourist season starts. I suspect the Via dell'Amore will be one of the first opened, although they will have to ensure that it's safe, following the horrific rock slide last September than injured four tourists. Your best bet is to check the website closer to your travel dates: http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/sentieri_parco.asp?id_lingue=1 Note that you'll need a Park Pass to hike any of the Sentiero Azzurro trails, including the one to Manarola. You can easily buy that at the beginning of the trail. The local trains are cheap, but they're usuallly Regionale, so DON'T forget to validate your tickets prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or hefty fines may result (which will be collected on the spot)! The runs in that area are really short, so your tickets may not be checked, but better to be "safe than sorry". Happy travels!
I have heard the same that all cost trails are closed. We are going the week prior to you and I have not seen much "new" info on the trails. I plan to do another search/check in a few weeks.
Susan. Coming from Florence area you'll take the A11 freeway (Firenze-Mare) west toward Pisa. Shortly after Lucca you take the belt toward Viareggio and from there take the directions to Genoa on the A-12 freeway. You will exit at La Spezia. When you exit watch out for the sharp curve that puts you on the piece of the freeway that leads to the causeway to La Spazia. As you get to La Spezia follow the directions to PORTOVENERE-CINQUE TERRE or RIOMAGGIORE. Basically the boulevard that goes along the port. Eventually the road will split. Straight to PORTOVENERE, slightly right and up to RIOMAGGIORE. Take that road up. After a few kms there is a tunnel, after the tunnel you'll see the sea in front of you. Keep an eye for the turnoff to Riomaggiore (if you continue straight you go to Manarola). From the turn off you go down on a narrow winding road to Riomaggiore. It's just a couple of km but it's narrow so watch out for oncoming traffic. The vehicles going uphill have the right of way on narrow roads, so you have to go to the right and stop and let them through if the fit for two vehicles is tight (and it will be tight if it's a delivery truck). As you go down the road will end at roundabout with a Parking booth with a barrier similar to a railroad barrier and a parking attendant inside. The 2 or 3 story pay parking structure is just after that booth on the left side (you can see the ramp with the barrier for exiting vehicles). You can't go beyond that, it's a limited traffic zone beyond that. Park in the structure and be happy. You made it. (the parking structure, if I remember, closes at night). To exit I think you have to pay the attendant first and then insert the paid ticket to open the barrier on exit, anyway it works like any parking lot in America.
The parking garage does close at 7:00pm according to other websites. About 20Euro/day to park there.