Typical stay for Cinque Terre

Buon giorno, My husband and I scheduled for 8 days to be in the CT area. After reading Rick's book and your posts, I'm wondering if that's too long. We're not "beach" people for more than a day. Do you have suggestions?
Grazie, Caryn

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3289 posts

Wow! That's a long time in what are very small towns. As pretty as they are, I'd be banging my head against a pastel-colored wall after four days at the most! What leads you to schedule eight days when you could be in Tuscany or anywhere else in the area? Also the time of year makes a big difference. The summer can be packed and the towns close up in colder weather. But it is a beautiful area, to be sure!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4869 posts

As much as I enjoyed the CT, 8 days is a really long time. We were there for 3 nights and I thought that was plenty.

Posted by Caryn
Avon, Ohio, USA
20 posts

We didn't know what to expect when we scheduled our vacation BEFORE we read the guidebook. Then we realized we might have too much time on our hands. Maybe we'll do four days further south, then four days in CT. We fly out of Genoa.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Caryn, Spending eight days in the Cinque Terre is a bit longer than usual, but whether it's too long will depend on what you plan on doing there. Aside from touring the five towns and perhaps spending a day on the beach, there won't be enough to keep you busy for eight days. However, the C.T. is a convenient "home base" for touring other nearby places. Some examples of day trips and other activities.... > Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino > Carrerra Marble Quarries > Porto Venere (easiest by boat) > Levanto > Hike at least some of the trails in the area (only one of the No. 2 trails is currently open) > Take a cooking class Which of the five towns are you planning to stay in? The best sandy beaches are in Monterosso (the most northerly of the five towns). Be sure to try the excellent local Pesto, in the area where it was invented. Happy travels!

Posted by Caryn
Avon, Ohio, USA
20 posts

We are planning to stay in Monterosso now for 4 days, then head to Florence for 2 1/2 (with the travel day). From your experience, will this be do-able by train? We will catch a fast train to Florence from La Spezia (after getting there from Monterosso). We fly out of Genoa and plan to give ourselves one complete day to travel between Florence and Genoa to ensure we arrive for our next day flight. We thought we'd do Cinque Terre first, then Florence. In your humble opinion, how does that sound? Since we are just a bit less than clueless : )

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3289 posts

That would work fine. If you're coming from Rome or somewhere else to the south, I'd do Florence first and save the backtracking. The CT are between Florence and Genoa.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

I love CT and if it were an island in the middle of nowhere I would be fine with it... but.. with all the rest of Italy within reach I would not spend more than 2 nites there, unless, as suggested you use it as a base. It still looks like you are missing the Tuscan countryside. I think I would spend at least one day in Florence (looks like your only big city) but find a way to work in some hillside villages.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3314 posts

2 nights at the Cinque Terre is all I could take, and just because I hate packing and unpacking my suitcases. There is nothing to do after dinner but sit on a balcony and look at the stars. I've been there countless times but only for the day (commuting from the Marina di Carrara or Forte dei Marmi area).
Anything more than 0 nights I would stay in Monterosso. I can't see myself spending the night in any of the other four.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Caryn, In order to provide an accurate reply, it would help to have more information on your entire route. For example.... > Where will you be prior to the Cinque Terre? > Will you only be visiting the three places you mentioned (C.T., Florence, Genoa)? > Have you travelled by train in Italy before? BTW, four nights in Monterosso should be perfect (IMO), but BE SURE to pre-book accommodations WELL in advance (but don't book anything until you have the route finalized). Cheers!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I haven't been there, but frankly I would choose to stay at least 3 nights simply because two nights is only one full day..so one day to walk the trails and one day to just visit the beach and soak up some atmosphere and relax, then off somewhere else for next 4-5 nights.

Posted by Caryn
Avon, Ohio, USA
20 posts

Ken, we fly into Genoa, then we thought we'd start with CT for 3-4 days, then head to Florence for 2 days. We must head back to Genoa for our flight out of the country. The alternative is to go straight to Florence (from Genoa) for our 2-3 days, then go to CT for the remainder of our trip. I hope I answered your questions. Another writer suggested visiting some hillside towns in Tuscany, but we don't have much time and we don't have a car. Would that be considering too much?
Thanks, Caryn

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Caryn, Thanks for the additional information. Your original plan sounds like the best idea. A few more thoughts..... As you'll likely be jet lagged and tired when you arrive in Genova, going straight to the C.T. is a great idea. I can't imagine a better place to recover from jet lag! You'll need to take a Taxi or Bus from the airport to one of the rail stations (Genova has several). I've never flown into Genova but I believe it's close to the city, so a Taxi to Genova Brignole might be the best bet. Most of the trains from there are direct but a few have one change. I'd suggest a direct train if possible (depending on what time your flight arrives and which train you can connect with). Travel time will be about 1.5 hours. When you arrive in Monterosso, you'll go down the stairs from track level to the street. Whether you go left or right from there will depend on which hotel you're staying in. Travel time from Monterosso to Florence will be as short as 2H:33M, depending on which train you choose. The easiest trips would be departures at 08:59 or 11:17, as they only have one change at Pisa Centrale. NOTE that your destination station will be Firenze S. M. Novella. For your return to Genova, you'll travel to either Genova Brignole or Genova Piazza Principe stations, according to which one is closer to your hotel. Depending on what time your flight leaves, you could perhaps travel from Florence to Genove on the day of your flight (of course, it would be "safer" to be closer to the airport in case of a rail strike or whatever). If you haven't already, you may find it helpful to have a look at the Italy Guidebook to plan your sightseeing, hotels, restaurants, etc. With such a short trip, you'll need to plan efficiently. Cheers!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Caryn, One other comment (ran out of room in the previous post)...... If you have three days in Florence and don't want to spend all of it there, it's very easy to take a day trip to Siena by Bus. The SITA Bus station is about a block from the Firenze S.M. Novella rail station. There are numerous Buses every day using both Corse Rapide (Express) as well as Corse Ordinarie Buses. You'll be dropped in Piazza Gramsci in the main part of town, and you can walk to Il Campo or other sights from there. If you choose to do that, be sure to check the return times for Buses to Florence! Also, DON'T forget to validate your tickets prior to boarding the Bus (or again, FINES). This is only one suggestion, since there's LOTS to see and do in Florence especially if you're interested in Renaissance art. If you're planning to visit the Uffizi or Accademia, reservations are HIGHLY advisable. If you don't have time to take a day trip to Siena, an easy excursion is a trip up the hill to Fiesole (just above Florence). One of the Hop On / Hop Off Buses goes there and one of the city Buses (I can't remember which one - ask the staff at your Hotel if you're interested). Especially in Florence, be sure you're wearing Money Belts, as the scammers and pickpockets WILL be working!

Posted by Ron
Cesena, Italy
755 posts

We stayed for 6 days (got rained out on two) and that was plenty. I'd say 4 would be enough, five max. I'd take a couple of those days and see another area.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Caryn... just to clarify... (you sent me a PM, but I still am not sure of your whole trip) Are you saying you are flying from the US in and out of Genoa and will only have 8 days before you return to the US? Is this your first trip to Italy? If so, I would change the whole itinerary...I have been to Italy at least half a dozen times and still would not dedicate that much of my trip to be in CT with so many other great things to do and see. I love it, but would never trade out the rest of Italy for days of doing nothing but some hiking and relaxing.... not with the rest of Italy calling! Now, if this is a week of rest while on an extended European trip that is a different story. Please clarify total length of time in Europe...

Posted by Caryn
Avon, Ohio, USA
20 posts

Hi Terry Kathryn, No, we have been to Rome for a week and absolutely loved it! We are flying in and out of Genoa, but we are not returning to the U.S. We then go on to the Middle East to visit family stationed in Qatar. We THOUGHT CT was a physically demanding hiking trip until we further explored it. Our error completely in rushing in and buying our airfare, etc. But, we are still thrilled with our decision and are finalizing our plans. With the help of this wonderful and enlightened Travelers Helpline Community and my guidebooks, we are spending 4 days in CT and will do many of the offshoot trails, since Trail #2 is mostly closed, then head to Florence for 3 nights. Our primary focus will be Florence with a one day wine side trip tour. I've already ordered our Uffizi Gallery tickets, our hotels are arranged, we've organized such that trains can be late and we'll still be okay! Rick Steves' says "plan to come back" and that's what we'll do! Thanks for everyone's assistance!! We would not be this organized without your guidance and input : )
Caryn

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3314 posts

Especially in Florence, be sure you're wearing Money Belts, as the scammers and pickpockets WILL be working! What? Ken! Since when Florence has become like Naples? I've never worn a money belt in Florence in 27 years I lived there and I was never pick pocketed! And neither was I pocketed the scores of times I traveled to Florence since I moved to the US! The only thing they would constantly steal from me when I was a teenager was my Vespa seat. I had to weld the damn bolts.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

@Roberto, I feel that a Money Belt is good practice for travel in most places in Italy, especially the larger cities. While the situation in Florence may not be as bad as Naples, it's still prudent to take a few precautions. I've seen signs posted in rail stations and on buildings in Rome and elsewhere warning people to be vigilant concerning pickpockets, so I assume this is an ongoing problem. Even the Cinque Terre can be a risky area, as people often "let down their guard". I witnessed the aftermath of a group from the U.S. that were victimized in the C.T., including one girl that had her Passport "lifted" (I don't even want to think about what a "pain" that would be!). The locals told me that professional thieves from Genoa often "work" the trains, and it's very lucrative for them. When I was in Monterosso last September, I was approached by one of the station staff while waiting for a train, who wanted to warn me that two teenage girls were "working" the station trying to rob travellers. The two thieves (teenage girls) were well known to the staff. I had a look at them so that I'd know who to be wary of, and noticed that they appeared to be from a particular "ethnic group" (I won't mention any names, but I'm sure you can guess). These two examples would seem to indicate that pickpockets can be problematic anywhere, whether in cities like Florence or in smaller "rural" areas. I'd rather be "safe than sorry". Cheers!

Posted by lorie
east haven, ct
60 posts

I agree that 3 nights, or 4 if you really like to hike, is plenty.. Go to Lucca 2 nights, Pisa only for the day or 1 night. Then on to Florence for the remainder. We did all that by train.
Enjoy/ Lorie

Posted by Maggie
Little Rock, AR, USA
26 posts

Eight days is a long time in the CT area. I think you should stay at least 2 nights, 3 at most. I have stayed at Vernazza for two nights and it was wonderful. Book early as places will fill up fast!

Posted by Caryn
Avon, Ohio, USA
20 posts

Thank you for all your help!! We have a great trip planned due to all the suggestions posted here!
Happy traveling! Caryn

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Caryn...sounds like a lovely time and now makes total sense given that you have more time in Europe. Plenty of time to hike and enjoy the sea, and catch some of Tuscany as well.