First Time Traveler to CInque Terre & Rome Needs Help

I am planning my first trip to Europe! My boyfriend and I are taking a 4 week trek, approx. 6/12-7/14, and plan to spend approx 8 days in Italy focusing on the Cinque Terre area and Rome. As exciting as this trip is, I am becoming overwhelmed with options and details. We are in our early 30s and in good physical condition...with that said which city in the Cinque Terre region would be a good central location for us while exploring this area? Where would be ideal places to stay? And is 4-5 days enough, too much or not enough time in Cinque Terre? Is it worth spending a day or two in Florence on way to Rome? Same for Rome...reco's for where to stay? We are open to hostels, hotels, renting a room. Your feedback and advice is most welcome!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Andrea, It would help to have some information on where you'll be prior to the Cinque Terre and after Rome? As this is your first trip to Europe, it would be a good idea to read Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. The country-specific Guidebooks will have good information on hotels, restaurants, sightseeing and transportation. Any of the five small towns of the Cinque Terre would be a good "central location" for exploring. Many of the group here have their favourite town, and my preference is Monterosso. It's very quick and easy to get to any of the towns using the local trains or boats, so which one you stay in won't matter. Which place to stay in the C.T. will depend to some extent on your budget? What type of price range are you considering? June isn't too far in the future, so it would be prudent to get something booked SOON! At this late date and the fact that you'll be travelling in peak season, it could be "challenging" to find something. I'd suggest 3-4 days in the Cinque Terre, but that will depend on what type of activities you're considering. IMO, spending a couple of days in Florence would be a good idea, and that will also facilitate the next leg of your journey to Rome. For lodgings in Rome, again it would help to have some idea on your price criteria. Do you have any idea which part of Rome you might prefer? I tend to stay in the area near Roma Termini, and can suggest a few hotels and hostels in the vicinity if that's the area you want. It would also be a good idea to get something booked in Rome fairly soon. There are a few "caveats" to be aware of when riding trains in Italy. Post another note if you need more details. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Hi Andrea! How exciting to be planning your trip! I too am going to Italy for the first time quite soon. I can't offer experiential advice, but a great tip I received here on Rick Steves' forum was to make a list of all the things I wanted to see/experience while traveling there (IE - 2 days of hiking in CT, a day touring the Vatican museums in Rome, a day touring Ancient Rome with the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon... a day for relaxing on the beach in Monterosso...) , and decide time frames based on that. So, going through your cities/locations, and your particular draw to that area, you can structure your time better. I went to Barnes and Noble and spent a good hour+ sifting through the guide books and picked the best for my needs (RS included, of course!). There are fantastic accommodation options listed in the books in all price ranges, so you just go through the listed websites, check availability, (post for others opinions on here, or look on trip advisor), and book away!! (Hostels.com, hotels.com, airbnb.com and vrbo.com have been great sources also).
I have been overwhelmed a few times too, just take it one step at a time, and continue to post your questions here - I've received so much help! You will too!! I'm sure many others on here will post more particular answers to your questions. Good luck planning!!

Posted by Shelley
Trenton, Ontario, Canada
298 posts

Hi Andrea
As Ken mentioned (and he is very knowledgeable) everyone has a favorite in the CT. Mine is Vernazza. We were fortunate to travel there before the flood, but I hear the town has recovered remarkably and would welcome new travelers. There is hiking to be sure between the towns as well as boats that travel from town to town - We hiked the trail and took a boat back. 4 days would be quite going to Rome. RS IMO has the best advice for rooms and restaurants in all price ranges but it doesn't say you can go off the beaten track to do your own thing and it is fun as well. As for bookings DO IT NOW. I plan at least a year in advance and have all my bookings down with at least 3-4 months to spare so I don't panic. In Rome we have stayed near the train station for easy walking distance(Hotel Montreal) and a little further towards exhibits (Hotel Andrea) both reasonable priced. Any further questions we are here to help.

Posted by lorie
east haven, ct
60 posts

We have been to Italy 3 times in the last 5 years spending 2 weeks each trip. Sounds like a great time. CT is fun but I think 3 nights is plenty. The 5 towns are very similar. Not much night life but you maybe tired from all that hiking. Few beaches, Monterrosso is a good base. How about 2 nights in CT You may also consider staying in Lucca (Puccini birth place) for a night or two. Very quaint and lovely. You may want to just relax after being in CT. Pisa just to see the tower but a day there is enough. Maybe 2 nights in CT, l night in Lucca, 2 nights in Florence (dont't miss Florence) a lot of museums and sights, and then on to Rome for 3 nights. I can never get enough of Rome. You can get from town to town by rail and bus. All the hotels we stayed at were B & B's for approximately 100 Euros per night which includes breakfast. You don't need to spend more. Consult Trip Advisor and Rick Steeves guides, both have always been very accurate for rooms. Have a great time.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

Andrea, if I only had 8 days, I'd do 2 in CT, 3 in Florence, and 3 in Rome... recognizing that you're going to lose at least a half day each time you change cities. (Actually, because of time lost in moving around, I'd do only Florence and Rome if I had that little time, but you specifically mention CT so I assume that's a key interest.) If Italian Renaissance art and architecture don't interest you, you might want to only do CT and Rome during the 8 days. If you do visit Florence, try to avoid Mondays if possible, since many sites are closed on Mondays.

Posted by Gary
Frisco, TX, United States
28 posts

I suggest staying in Vernazza. It is the largest town in the Cinque Terra and centrally located. We stayed 3 days which was plenty.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

@Gary, "I suggest staying in Vernazza. It is the largest town in the Cinque Terra" Just to clarify, I believe Monterosso is the largest of the five towns in the Cinque Terre. It has the greatest number of accommodations, restaurants, shops and other tourist facilities, as well as a "full service" rail station. Cheers!

Posted by LaRae
spokane
472 posts

Vernazza would be my first choice as a place to stay. You can cover the area pretty good in 2 days. I would give 2 days for Florence as a minimum. Haven't been to Rome.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

Train connections are better from Monterosso than Vernazza. A direct train to Rome from Monterosso takes about 4 hours. From the other CT towns it may be necessary to connect to another train at La Spezia.