Would like to arrange a day tour to Cinque Terre from Florence. Am travelling with elderly parents and want to avoid taking trains. Can anyone make suggestions for bus tours or private drivers?
You may want to consider the ferry that runs from Portovenere to Monterosso (or reverse). The ferry does get in close to each town and is very scenic. Note that when seas are high, they won't run the ferry. When it's really calm, the ferry will pull into one or two of the towns. Even Portovenere is scenic. I don't know how ambulatory your parents are but the train itself is not bad. 3 stairs up and 3 stairs down. The diffiulty will be the stairs from the train station down to the town streets. Monterosso is not bad. Once down about 25 stairs the lower part of the old and new towns is fairly flat except for one hill that is not steep. The main street in Vernazza has some slope to it but it's really scenic. We're in our late 60's and we not only walked everywhere but the steepest streets, we walked and hiked 3 of the 4 trails between the towns. The trains were the only way to travel into the CT.
Clara - Under ideal conditions it is at least 2.5 hours by auto from Florence to the Cinque Terre. Remember too that the Cinque Terre villages do not generally allow vehicles and the villages are steep to very steep.
For a day trip that amounts to at least 5 hours in the car and strenuous activity once at the CT.
There are other coastal areas that might not be as strenuous on your folks - Portofino, etc. - but they are far from Florence too. Have you thought about the coastal parts of Tuscany? Probably saves you at least an hour each way. Have fun.
Thank you for your advice. If I'm not driving, I don't see the 2.5 hour each way as a problem (that's usually how long it takes to drive from Princeton to NYC during rush hour). What is stressful is moving everyone along to make sure we make the train connections on time. I was planning on a leisurely 10+ hour day trip and thought we would visit only Monterosso and Vernazza, and view the other towns from the sea.
What would truly be most helpful are the names/websites of bus tour companies that operate tours to Cinque Terre from Florence.