We have a rental car and we're going to Cinque Terre for a couple of days. I read some of the posts on this forum and have no intention of taking the car anywhere near where we will stay, but how/where do I leave my car? La Spezia? If so, can we take a train into CT (we're staying in Monterosso)? Thanks.
You can return your car rental in La Spezia, if you so wish, and take the train to Monterosso from there. However if you intend to have a rental after your couple of days in the Cinque Terre, then it makes no sense to return the car and then rent another one 2 days later. Just drive to Monterosso. That's the most car friendly of the 5 villages. I don't know where you are coming from, but probably you'll be driving on the A12 freeway (Livorno-Genova freeway). The easiest way is to take the exit CARRODANO-LEVANTO. Drive toward Levanto. Just as you enter Levanto, there is a roundabout, follow the directions to CINQUE TERRE (3rd roundabout exit). Follow that road, eventually there is a turn off on the left for Vernazza, you just go straight. Just past that turn off there is a sign one for Monterosso Centro Storico and one for the Monterosso Lungomare-Fegina (Monterosso has two separate sides, the old town and the new town). Which one you take depends on where your accommodations are (call your hotel and ask if they are near centro storico or Lungomare-Fegina) Both sides have a parking lot and some hotels have some parking too. Driving to Monterosso is not hard. Once there you won't need a car but parking it at the parking lot (if the hotel doesn't have parking) shouldn't be a problem.
Thanks very much- I was uneasy about taking to car to Monterosso (we're keeping it to use after) but if you think it's 'do-able', I'll drive straight there.
Road narrows to just 4 or 5 mts wide as you enter into town (but it's still a two way street), so try not to scratch your car against the walls or the traffic coming the opposite direction. The cars going uphill have the right of way in the most narrow passages, so as you come into town (downhill), in the most narrow spots, you need to stop where there is room for both a little before the narrow spot, let the incoming traffic go, then you go. This applies generally only if there is a delivery truck coming the opposite way. Two regular cars should have no problems going through the respective directions (I'm sure you'll have at least 2 inches on both sides, LOL). Just drive the streets of Vieux Montreal or Quebec and that's pretty much the size of the streets in Monterosso. Also become familiar with European road signs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_signs_in_Italy
Robert, A couple of other things to mention. As you'll be driving in Italy, EACH driver will require the compulsory International Driver's Permit which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce an I.D.P. if requested could result in fines on the spot! You'll also need to be vigilant to avoid the dreaded ZTL areas (ie: expensive fines). As Roberto mentioned, Monterosso is the most "car friendly" of the five towns. Some hotels there provide limited parking for guests. Which hotel were you planning on staying in? If your Hotel is in the upper part of the Centro Storico (old town), note that you will NOT be able to drive up Via Roma (new restriction following the floods of 2011), so will have to approach from another direction. Possibly Roberto could clarify which turnoff to use? There is a new car park being built at the upper end of the old town, but construction has ground to a halt for a year or two due to "Italian bureaucracy". I wonder if it will ever be completed? You could leave the car at the new car park near the rail station in La Spezia, but as I recall the daily parking rates are a bit "steep". Cheers!
If you are staying in Monterosso, you can probably find parking there. It's the biggest of the towns. Each town has some parking but not nearly enough for the high season traffic. Monterosso has significantly more parking than the other towns. When we visited I had a leased car and found a place about a mile from the La Spezia train station, across from one of the gates to the Navy base, to park. I didn't like the look of the parking near the station so asked and found what seemed to be safe (and free) parking. Our car was in one piece, and no tickets when we retrieved it a few days later. We stayed in Vernazza in late October. I could have parked there. There is a small parking lot at the top of town, and it wasn't full when we were there.
@Brad, "We stayed in Vernazza in late October. I could have parked there. There is a small parking lot at the top of town, and it wasn't full when we were there." Which October did you stay in Vernazza? I was there in late September last year, and there didn't appear to be any vehicle traffic or parking, except for local vehicles. I'm not sure the parking facility or roads have been fully repaired yet following the 2011 floods (although I'm sure the repairs continued over this winter). Cheers!
@ Ken, We were there five years ago - so before the (big) flood. I'm not sure when we'll go back. It's one of my wife's favorite places, probably because there are no sights, museums or churches to visit. I like it a lot but it's out of the way unless you're in the area. When I was there, they had only local traffic - but there would have been space if we had driven in. I'm sure that wouldn't be the case in high season (and probably any nice weekend).