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Tuscany to Cinque Terre

We will be staying at a remote resort in Tuscany (the closest town is Volterra) and would like to travel to Cinque Terre from there. We have not decided which town in Cinque Terre yet (recommendations welcome) but in general are wondering what is the best way to get there. Do we need to go back to Florence and take a train from there to Cinque or is there a train in the Tuscan countryside we can reasonably get to? Or should we do car service? It’s our first time to Italy and it is our honeymoon so we are anxious to plan it right. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Edited to add that we will be traveling in late September- early October 2024.

Posted by
6691 posts

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

Staying in a remote resort in Tuscany almost requires a car- have you considered that?
How will you get to the resort and how will you be able to see any of Tuscany from there?

To get to CT you will have to get to a train station. There is no train in Volterra. I believe the closest would be Poggibonsi (about an hour from Volterra). From there you will have to train to whatever town you pick on CT.
Most likely you will go thru Pisa then up to La Spezia and on to your CT destination.

From Volterra to La Spezia is at least a 2 hour drive- I'd guess car service would be in the 200-300 euro range.
You might ask your host at the resort what they recommend.

When is your honeymoon?
If this year you will need to decide on your CT destination very soon- availability is very limited in all the CT towns.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for the reply Christine.

Based on what I’ve been reading on this site, I am thinking we will rent a car in Florence when departing for Tuscan countryside (spending a few nights in Florence to start the trip) and will drive to the resort. We plan to spend most of our time at the resort but want the car so we can see a few of the towns in Tuscany.

Thinking then we can drive to the nearest town to catch a train to CT and return the car there. We will check if we can do that in Poggibonsi.

This will be early October so appreciate the advice to book soon. We are really trying to ramp up our logistics planning to make sure we can get to and from the places we want to go and then will book the remaining hotels.

Posted by
6691 posts

OK- great that you wil have a car.

We will check if we can do that in Poggibonsi.

Most likely not and it's the wrong direction.

Just drive to Pisa or La Spezia and drop the car there- La Spezia is easier and gets you right to the train line you want for CT.

Be sure to read up on driving in Italy. All drivers must have an IDP- get at your local AAA

Here is a god thread with info on exiting Florence :
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/picking-up-a-car-in-florence-to-drive-thru-tuscany

Posted by
928 posts

Hello sarah.olson98, and welcome to the forums!

I would either drop the car back in Florence to avoid the different city drop off charge or drive all the way to La Spezia (the nearest big town to CT) and drop off there changing to the train or ferry to get to CT itself. I think dropping the car off anywhere in between costs you money and doesn't save you that much time. The rental at the airport in Florence is probably the easiest but compare prices.

To reiterate - get an International Drivers License - and read up and know about ZTLs - traffic limited zones - in the places you're going have a plan to park without entering them.
https://urbanaccessregulations.eu/countries-mainmenu-147/italy-mainmenu-81/toscana-tuscany/volterra-ar

You don't mention a time of year for this trip that might help people giving advice.
Rural Tuscany is as beautiful as advertised - actually more so - take time to just enjoy it.

Have a great trip,
=Tod

Posted by
32272 posts

sarah,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! What time of year will you be travelling in Italy?

A few thoughts.....

  • I would suggest staying in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre. It's the largest of the five towns and therefore has the greatest number of hotels, restaurants and other tourist amenities. It also has more conventional hotels, rather than just private rooms so you'll have a better choice of places to stay.
  • To get an idea of how to get from one place to the next, use the Trenitalia website - https://www.trenitalia.com/it.html . Depending on which solution you choose, travel from Volterra to Monterosso could be less than three hours with two changes.
  • You'll need to know which station you'll be using in each place you visit. Many Italian towns have more than one. Get used to using the Italian name for stations.
  • You don't need to buy tickets for Regionale trains in advance, as the price is always the same. I generally buy them on the day of travel or day before travel, using the automated kiosks. Regionale tickets purchased online have to be validated online and I prefer just to use paper tickets and validate in the machines in the station.
  • There are different classes of tickets (Economy, Super Economy, etc.) on the express trains (ie: Freccia, Intercity) and it is possible to save money on those with advance purchase. However there are some restrictions on them.... check the Trenitalia website.
  • You may find this helpful - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_V55pQGmiQ .
  • As it's your first trip to Italy, I'd recommend having a look at both https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/italy-rail-passes AND https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-in-italy.htm . There are some important caveats to be aware of, which can result in hefty fines. For example, locally purchased (paper) tickets for Regionale trains must be validated prior to boarding the train. Also tickets for express trains such as the Freccia high speed have compulsory seat reservations which are specific to time, date and departure time. Therefore you can only only board the specific train listed on the ticket, and if you board the wrong train by mistake, hefty fines.
  • As mentioned in previous replies, each driver must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Just to clarify, it is NOT a license, but rather a translation of the terms on your home D.L. You can easily obtain these at any AAA / CAA office for a small fee, and they're valid for one year.
  • Also as mentioned, you must be vigilant when driving in Italy to avoid the ZTL (limited traffic) zones which exist in many Italian towns. Each pass through one will result in hefty fines, which you likely won't know about until several months after you return home. Do NOT drive in Florence as the city is covered extensively with automated cameras. There are also speed cameras and tolls on some motorways.
  • I generally find that well planned train trips are a quicker and easier way to get around, and no worries about parking, vandalism or theft. The high speed trains especially are a more efficient way of getting around and a better use of limited travel time (IMO). Parking in the Cinque Terre is limited and if you decide to stay in Monterosso, there are car parks in both the old town and new town areas, but of course there will be a cost.

Good luck with your planning.