We are a small group traveling from Lucerne to Florence and final destination of Avignon in May, 2014. We would like to visit the Cinque Terre and have found trains from Florence to LaSpezia. Should we focus only on Vernazza, considering we will each have luggage?
Ramona, if you plan for a long day, you can easily visit all towns in the CT in one day. There is a staffed left luggage facility in the La Spezia Centrale train station. According to the Trenitalia website, it's open from 06:00-20.40. It will take about 3.0-3.5hrs to get from Florence to Vernazza. There are numerous trains a day from Florence to the CT area. In May of 2014, the trails will hopefully be open. I suggest the following: 1. Depart Firenze on the 7:00 train to Riomaggiore. You will arrive at about 10:00am. You can take the 7:53am train but you won't arrive until 11:18. But, on this run, you have almost an hour layover in La Spezia Centrale which gives you an opportunity to store your luggage. 2. Walk a short distance to the beginning of the Via dell'Amore trail to Manarola. It's flat, mostly paved and extremely scenic. Takes about 25-30 minutes. You should be in Manarola by noon. Tour Manarola (it's not large).
3. Take the train to Vernazza. Tour Vernazza. Have lunch. It's now about 2:00pm. 4. Either take the train to Monterosso and tour there or return to La Spezia Centrale, retrieve your luggage and head back to Florence. Going to Monterosso will add about 90 minutes to your journey. I estimate 5:30-6:00pm back in Florence if you skip Monterosso. 7:00-8:30pm if you do. But, if you are like my wife and daughter who are in Florence right now, it will be later than my estimates.
Larry, Thanks so much for your information. Hopefully we can spend a night of 2 in Vernazza & properly explore CT.
Ramona, The trip from Florence to the Cinque Terre is very easy, even with luggage. Depending on which trains you choose, there may be changes at Pisa Centrale and/or La Spezia Centrale. When you purchase tickets for that trip, be sure to specify your end destination and not La Spezia. As you're planning to stay there for two nights and not just take a day trip, you could consider staying in any of the towns, and not just Vernazza. As you're a "small group", you might also consider Monterosso as it's the largest of the five towns and therefore has the greatest number of hotels and other accommodations. Vernazza doesn't have any "hotels" as such, but rather a number of smaller Affittacamere, some of which don't provide breakfast. Staying in Monterosso may also facilitate your ongoing trip to Avignon, as there may be more train departures available. That's going to be a LONG trip in any case, with 3 or 4 changes. Happy travels!