First trip to Cinque Terra area

We need recommendations of where to stay and do in the Cinque Terra area. We will be flying into Florence. We would rather use the rail system. We definitely want to stay in Cinque Terra for three nights but don't know which town is best. We won't be hiking. Any suggestions of an itinerary and hotels? What do think of Lucca and Siena? Any other cities?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

Louise, Roberto provided excellent advice on the train routes, and travel by rail is absolutely the easiest method. You can check the departures and train details using the trenitalia.com website. Choosing trains with the least number of transfers will make things a bit easier. In terms of "where to stay and do in the Cinque Terre", I'd highly recommend that you have a look at the Italy 2013 guidebook. You should be able to find a copy in your local Library or larger bookstores. The main activities in the C.T. are hiking the trails (only two of the popular No. 2 trails are open at the moment), day touring to other locations such as Porto Venere, Levanto or Portofino or simply enjoying Il dolce far niente (and of course some excellent Pesto in the area where it was invented). When is this visit taking place? I'd suggest staying in Monterosso, as it's the largest of the five towns and therefore has the greatest number of hotels, restaurants and other facilities, and also the best beaches. The Guidebook has listings for good reliable hotels and B&B's in all the towns. If you could provide some information on your criteria for lodgings (ie: price and comfort level), it would be easier to suggest places. Are you going directly to the C.T. when you arrive in Florence, or will you be staying in Florence a few days? Also, have you travelled by train in Italy before? There are a few potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of. If you need information, post another note. Buon Viaggio!

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Our trip will be the last 9 nine in October rof this year. We would like to stay in Florence a night or two before we begin our venture,. We've only traveled once by rail....from Florence to Venice. I'm considering having a home base and doing day trips. Big question is....if we decide to do this, where do we stay?

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Somehow I deleted my posts. I'm still in need of suggestions and recommendations for Italy. We have nine days at the end of October. We're flying into Florence and are interested in the Cinque Terra area. Where do we stay if we what a home base? we'll be traveling by train. Thank you.

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Somehow I deleted my posts. I'm still in need of suggestions and recommendations for Italy. We have nine days at the end of October. We're flying into Florence and are interested in the Cinque Terra area. Where do we stay if we what a home base? we'll be traveling by train. Thank you.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3294 posts

After visiting Florence, take train to Cinque Terre. The route is via PISA and LA SPEZIA (you will likely change train in both). Travel time from Florence is approx 2.5+ hours. All 5 towns are fine. Stay wherever you find accommodations. The towns are connected by frequent trains going back and forth. Monterosso is slightly bigger, so it offers a little more in terms of accommodations, restaurant, shops.
Siena and Lucca are two pretty cities which are popular tourist destinations. You will like them. They can be easily visited in two separate day trips from Florence. They are just over one hour from Florence (in nearly opposite directions, therefore you can't do both on the same day)

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
560 posts

After your stay in Florence, catch the regional trains to CT. They are several train options and times, and we chose to train to LaSpezia and change for the final leg to Vernazza (one change). That is the town we opted to stay in, and our hotel was Gianni Franzi. Nice hotel (great breakfast patio and balcony for guests), however, a lot of steps to get to.
As for what to do, what are your interests and why did you choose to go there. You may prefer to go back and forth among the towns, lounge on the "beach" all day, or grab a bottle of wine and sit on a balcony. I know you stated that you won't be hiking, and I am curious as to why not. Our hikes were the highlight of the trip!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

Louise, Regarding "where to stay and what to do", have a look at the Italy guidebook. There's a wealth of fantastic information there! It's difficult to make suggestions without having some idea of your interests, etc.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

In my opinion 3 nights is a long time in the CT if you don't plan to hike. There isn't that much to do there. What is your goal for that area?

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

Vernazza and Manarolla are the most scenic. However, all towns are easily reached by train, so I'd choose the best accommodation. I disagree with Andrea that 3 nights is too much time in Cinque Terre. One of the reasons people go on a trip is to "relax". You don't go to Cinque Terre to sight-see but rather to enjoy doing nothing.
I don't get why some people are obsessed with filling every minute of their trip with sightseeing. It's like if they spend a day or two without going into a museum or some building, they feel they're wasting their travel money.

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Thank you again for your input. We chose Cinque Terra to enjoy the scenery, people, wine and food. Art and museums we've seen in Florence and Rome. This trip is primarily for relaxation.....though we do want to see other cities we've not visited in the pas.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

I have spent week-long vacations in the CT. I stayed in Monterosso. There were trips to La Spezia and Levanto to walk around and see what's there, boat trips between town, train trips to other CT towns for hiking, sitting on the promenade in Monterosso and watching the people and sea. Bonasolla (sp) is a nice town in the area for a visit. It is like the CT towns, and has hotels, a train station, and a good beach. Once I enjoyed a sunset dinner at restaurant Castello in Vernazza. The sun set spectacularly as we ate. We had a view of Monterosso from there. Castello is at the harbor. You might enjoy a day-trip to Santa Margherita for walking and a pizza, or a shopping trip on Friday to the large flea market in La Spezia for a little light shopping. Daytrips to Pisa or Lucca are possible; one or two train changes are required unless you can get a direct train to Pisa.

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Swan, any recommendation of acommmadations/hotel in Monterossa?

Posted by Charlie
Ventura, CA, USA
36 posts

We are going to CT in September for the third time. We always stayed at Il Maestrale http://www.locandamaestrale.net/sources/home0_e.htm , located on the main st going up throght the old town center. We like this place because of location, the staff (owners), cleanliness and the cappacinos are great. I have also heard good things about http://www.hotelmarina5terre.com/ . Either way you can't go wrong with the CT for relaxing and food.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

Louise, For accommodations in the Cinque Terre, I'd suggest staying in Monterosso, especially at that time of the year. Many of the hotels and other tourist facilities will be winding down and getting ready to close for the season. Have a look at Hotel Villa Steno and Hotel Pasquale (old town) or Villa Adriana (new town). You could also check the following website for other choices: www.rebuildmonterosso.com/p/visitors-information.html You may also enjoy watching this short video on the Cinque Terre: www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2rK0wSA8qs Cheers!

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

What hotel would you recommend for one night in Lucca?

Posted by Frank
Montreal
3 posts

Hi Louise,
I recommend using Vernazza as a base, just a gorgeous town. The only thing I warn people about the Cinque Terra is that it is far from being undiscovered: http://bbqboy.net/vernazza1-italy/ Siena is fantastic, one of our highlights in the area. The Duomo is incredible as are the Torre del Mangia and the Piazza del Campo. We found Lucca honestly a bit boring, I would recommend as a day trip (same with Pisa - see as a daytrip). A little further away, Cortona really impressed us. I don't want links here but if you check out the website above you'll see posts and photos on all the above locations as well as Florence which deserves at least a couple of days - very impressive city. Frank

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

We spent one night in Lucca at Hotel Rex. It is located next to the train station so it is easy to access for a short stop like that. We didn't hear any train noise from our room. It's across the street from the wall so getting into Lucca is a short walk. They have bikes for their customers use too.

Posted by Robert
Cary, NC, USA
18 posts

We have stayed and are staying again this Sep at the Hotel Universo in Lucca. I know Rick's guidebook isn't too hot on it, but we've never had a problem there and really enjoy the hotel.

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

I need recommendations for a hotel in Florence. We fly into Florence so we want to spend our first and last night at this hotel. In the past we stayed at the Hotel Casci but they want 150 euro per night. Hoping to find something in the center of town most reasonably.

Posted by karen
longwood, fl, usa
8 posts

We stayed 3 nights in Monterosso al Mare at the Hotel Marina. We actually stayed in their apartment which was beyond lovely. We had a family of 5 and the apartment was one street from the main hotel. The hotel is located very close to the beach whereas some are much higher up the mountain. It was a good deal for us because it not only included fresh to order breakfast but also lunch (which was a pasta and salad of the day). That saved us a lot of money with 3 teenagers. We used the water taxi and went to Maranola (sp?) one day to swim in the swimming holes. The pizza shop right up the main street was lovely. We also hiked up the cemetery in Monterosso which was really cool and the views from atop went on forever.
I csn't wait to return.

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Hi all, thank you all for your recommendations. We've decided on a couple nights at Hotel Pasquale and another three at Hotel Marina in Monterosso. We can hardly wait. What restaurants do you recommend. Which hikes and/or excursions did you enjoy? We'll be exploring the other nearby towns up to Portofino.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
468 posts

Croissants or breakfast at Hotel Pasquale are wonderful. Make sure to use the marmalade in the pots as they make it themselves. Breakfast cappuccino was terrific too!

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
306 posts

Lucca was amazing. If you have the time you should definately go. We rented a bike and just rode around. It was not crowded at all and was just so peaceful and full of charm and ambiance.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

Louise, "What restaurants do you recommend." My usual recommendations for restaurants in Monterosso.... > Cantina di Miky - new town, not far from the station. I really like their Pesto Lasagna. > L'Alta Marea - old town, a short distance up Via Roma. Patio is small but cozy, and there's inside seating too. The owners are really nice! I really enjoy the Trofie al Pesto. > Il Carruggio - old town in a small alley just off Via Roma. Very distinctive and I always enjoy the food. Their Trofie al Pesto is also great. > Ristorante Belvedere - old town, closer to the water. Service can be a bit slow when they get busy, so I'd suggest dining early. It's VERY popular and the Servers are often running, so they are working hard. Don't be alarmed by the occasional loud thunderous cacophony overhead - they're right under the rail tracks. One of their specialities is a mixed seafood seleƧtion baked in a large earthenware pot (can't remember the name of it) - when they up-end the pot at the table, you're never sure what's going to appear (including a whole Octopus). That particular menu item is probably better for a couple or a small group. > Hotel Porto Roca - FAR end of the old town, near the trail to Vernazza. It's a bit of a hike to get there but you'll be rewarded with INCREDIBLE views during dinner. More on the posh side. > Ristorante Miky - new town, towards the far end. This is probably the best joint in town, specializing in seafood, but it's pricey. > Ristorante Ciak - old town, popular seafood restaurant. I've never dined there, but it's always full. Buon Appetito!

Posted by Louise
Paso Robles, Ca, USA
12 posts

Thank you again. I just found out that the hotel we were going to stay at on our last night in Florence is booked up. What hotel would you recommend in Florence? Hopefully, it would be close to restaurants and not too far from the airport. Thank you.

Posted by Jenny
WI, WI
12 posts

Louise, We stayed in Manarola at La Torretta. http://www.torrettas.com/ We enjoyed Manarola, it was very pretty. La Torretta has gorgeous views, as it is on the top of the village, and looks down at the village and sea. It was a hike to get up there though! At the time we stayed, they wanted payment in cash only upon arrival, but that may have changed by now (it was 2004). Current reviews on tripadvisor rate it #1 in Manarola and say that Gabriele was the owner, which really sounds familiar to me, so I would say the young man still owns it. He was very cordial and accommodating when I talked with him over email. The area is lovely and I found that three nights was perfect for just lounging around, exploring and relaxing. We did the hikes between the villages, but that was it as far as hiking goes. We went in November and it was hot enough during the day that we wore shorts, and cooler at night, where we put on pants and sweatshirts. As far as dining, I can't tell you where we went. Whatever was open! It was all great!
We drove from Rome. If doing it again, I'd take the train. We never used the car while we are there and only had to pay to park it. Jenny

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

@Joseph, "take the "walk" from Rio M to Vernazza. It is flat and very easy. My 72 year old mom had no trouble." The segment you're referring to is the famous Via dell'Amore, which goes from Riomaggiore to Manarola. No one will be hiking that section in the near future, as it will reportedly be closed until 2014. Cheers!

Posted by Joseph
Plano
5 posts

I read most of the responses and pretty much agree. Although you mentioned that hiking is not on your list, take the "walk" from Rio M to Vernazza. It is flat and very easy. My 72 year old mom had no trouble. She even did the Vernazza to Corniglia. A little more strenuous, but loved it. As for things to do, there are many other cities in the Cinque Terre area and they are all beautiful. I like Rapallo, Santa Margherita and Portofino. You really can't go wrong. Good luck.