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Crowds in Cinque Terra

May 27, 2016. We are in Cinque Terra now. We were here a few years ago, pre flood, in June and there is no comparison from then to now. The crowds are ridiculous really and enjoying yourself is really hard to do. Walking the trails was like being in a long line up. We have been here four times now and regrettably this will be our last.

Posted by
7209 posts

That's exactly what we encountered when we were there several years ago. I have never IN MY LIFE experienced such crowds on the little trains. Just when you thought there could not be possibly 1 more person crammed onto the train...5 more people would squeeze in. It was to the point where standing people didn't have to hold on to the overhead bars to steady themselves as the train moved because people were so packed there was no way of falling left or right or forward or backward.

Vernazza was packed at lunch time and we had to fight for tables. Even when tables became available our particular restaurant wasn't really enthused for us to be their customers. I guess they were tired.

THat was my first and last visit to CT. There are too many other beautiful places to visit.

Posted by
2393 posts

I'm thinking they can't get those tourists limits in place fast enough.

EDIT: My comment is not meant to spread a rumor just expressing a sincere desire to see this area protected and preserved. Many tourists seem to like to be able to check a place off a list of places they've been with really no appreciation nor respect for the place.

Posted by
75 posts

The boats are so full they are turning people away who then have to wait for the next one.
I think the trick might be to find a little out of the place town that is not mentioned in the guidebooks and go there. Dare I say Rick Steve's love of this out of the way place ruined it (and other guidebook authors too)

Posted by
1625 posts

We went in the beginning of October and had no crowds and great weather. No cruise ship people, met some nice fellow travelers, the trains got a bit busier at the end of the day but we always had a seat. If I went in the summer I think I would just do a beach day in Monterosso and eat and drink, no trails, no trains.

Posted by
75 posts

Mary, I have seen no sign of any ticketing system.

Posted by
40 posts

Seems that the cruise ships, according to this schedule (has the whole year), are generally in this area over the weekends (Friday-Sunday). In terms of how this impacts the local area, yikes! http://ports.cruisett.com/schedule/Italy/368-La_Spezia_cinque_Terre/May_2016/

I read in another article that the cruise lines have added additional destinations in Italy to replace some previous destinations throughout the Mediterranean because of civil unrest, terrorism, etc. Plus, I imagine that as tourists have seen this area, they have let the cruise lines know this is a most desirable destination, so it stays in their itineraries.

Posted by
7050 posts

Dare I say Rick Steve's love of this out of the way place ruined it (and other guidebook authors too)

Are you there right now due to "Rick's love"? It's a bit of a paradox to complain about Rick or crowds when one is part of that same group...(I know, it's always "someone else" who is the culprit, not the collective crowd of which one is a willing participant). I have to ask...why 4 times when there are so many other jaw dropping places in this world to see? There are even good substitutes for Cinque Terre (but I'm not about to advertise them). Sounds like you've loved CT to death as millions of other visitors have - time to make room for other newbies to experience it for the first time. It seems sad but I would say you're truly fortunate to have had as many fond experiences there as you did. I hope you still enjoy your last visit in spite of the many other visitors, and bring back some wonderful memories.

Posted by
16894 posts

Mary, the "ticketing system" article is months-old, cobbled together from other articles, all based on one speculative pronouncement that has not come to pass. Don't expect any such measures to take place in 2016. On the plus side, Trenitalia is now running a Cinque Terre shuttle train every half hour, more than doubling previous frequency. I assume that capacity is also improved, but have not counted the cars.

Posted by
8865 posts

It is the downside of the RS Backdoor Travel popularity.

Happened to Rue Cler. From my first stay at the Hotel Muget in the early 90's to a stay in 2011 to a recent stay, the RS impact has created an area devoid of charm. Too sanitized for me now.

I love that RS opened people's eyes to travel abroad but the downside is that these places became Americanized.

It will happen in Cuba as well. Thankfully, I was there 4 years ago to enjoy its uniqueness.

Posted by
40 posts

I don't think it's fair to say that Rick's backdoor travel philosophy is solely responsible for the huge increase in Cinque Terre tourism. Cruise ships are the polar opposite of Rick's travel philosophy and wouldn't be carrying only American tourists. There are probably several factors for the bigger crowds and can the area sustain this level of popularity and still retain it's unique qualities that have made it a World Heritage Site? Probably not unless some sort of intervention occurs to limit the impact people have on it.

I am excited to see this area as part of a Rick Steves tour in 2017 so does this make me part of the problem or part of the solution? I would like to think as part of the solution, to travel responsibly through this area while embracing the local culture and contributing to its future economically.

Posted by
7072 posts

I wish people would quit spreading the rumors about tourist limits in CT based on months old articles in questionable media sources. Check one of their own websites such as this one: https://cinqueterre.a-turist.com/index or this one: https://www.incinqueterre.com/en/ and note the !IMPORTANT information. This website gives information on the tourist card that you can purchase that allows entrance to the National Park (hiking trails) and transportation on trains, etc. But I don't think there are limitations on how many can purchase the card http://www.parks.it/parco.nazionale.cinque.terre/Edettaglio.php?id=35593

I also think it's important to note that many other Italy guide books besides RS, not to mention the Cinque Terre towns themselves, have been promoting the region (at least in Europe) as a tourist destination for years.

Posted by
75 posts

Agnes:
I liked coming to Monterosso. I liked the hotel I stay in. I however don't need your assumption that I can't plan my own vacations. I am sure our man Rick does not need anyone to monitor and comment on any seemingly negative comment by me.

Posted by
11 posts

We were in the Cinque Terra at the end of March and the weather was perfect and few tourists. That is the time to go.

Posted by
23 posts

Cinque Terre is small and no place to grow. So, its best to avoid peak seasons. We went through an RSTour last October and it was prefect. Little chilly early in the day but the hike was perfect, restaurants & Trains were not that crowded.

Posted by
2393 posts

"The USA's top-selling travel guide to Italy certainly has an effect, but the world's largest cruise ships are taking that to the next level."

I wholeheartedly agree Laura - unfortunately cruisers are not the most respectful travelers either.

Posted by
102 posts

This post makes me sad! I went 10 years ago and there were hardly any tourists there. We made friends with locals, found a place to sleep with a bartender, his grandmother, and his baby cousin. I've always wanted to go back but perhaps it would be better to keep my memories intact and go explore another part of the world...

Posted by
8293 posts

"....unfortunately cruisers are not the most respectful travelers ...."

As a sometime cruise passenger, I find that statement pretty insulting. Do you have any evidence of this? Do you believe that bus tour members and independent tourists are all respectful and bear no responsibility for the over-crowding in le Cinque Terre?

It seems to me that posts here have been complaining for several or more years about the masses of people " spoiling" their experience in CT, before the gigantic ships visited.. We are all tourists, whether we arrive by car, train, ship or on foot. To think otherwise is snobbery.

Posted by
1081 posts

I am in Cinque Terre right now staying at Monterosso and having a wonderful time. This morning we took the ferry to Riomaggiore and worked our way back through the towns to Monterosso, had a awesome time, yes there are crowds in some places but we found we could get away from them easily if needed. Rick Steves guidebook has lead us to some great restaurants! The best part of CT is in the early mornings & evenings when the crowds are minimum. I hate to leave tomorrow but Leonardo di Vinci is waiting for us in Milan!

Posted by
2393 posts

Norma I have cruised many times in the Caribbean and witnessed behavior there and also in cruise ship port cities (like feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's Square) in Europe where I have been visiting. A lot of cruise ship passengers are easy to spot as they wear cruise line gear, carry logo bags or wear "lanyards" around their necks. I made the statement based on my personal observations - I have seen them take "souvenirs" of shells or other natural artifacts, litter, smoke where they should not be, wander off defined paths "to get a photo", etc.

Rarely do I make broad comments but I have noticed this behavior more consistently from cruise ship passengers than people who travel to a destination on their own. It just seems as if they are ticking off locations on a list rather than experiencing and appreciating the local culture.

Just my opinion - no disrespect intended

Posted by
7072 posts

Sorry Christi, but when you generalize a population like that, it does come across as disrespectful even if you didn't mean it that way. I have seen plenty of non-cruisers behaving as you describe.

Posted by
3941 posts

I understand - we first visited in 2008 and it was lovely - very few people on the trails and trains. We returned in 2012 because I had seen videos of the floods in 2011 and wanted my tourist dollars to help the economy - oh my...if it had been that packed with people in 2008, we never would have returned. Trains and platforms overflowing, huge crowds in the towns - we stayed in Corniglia both times, so much quieter. As for time of year - it was almost the same days in Sept (one year was something like Sept 21/22 and the next was Sept 22/23-ish). I think part of the diff was the first trip was a Mon/Tues and the second was a Sat/Sun. And yes, I do realize we were part of the crowds. ;)

That being said, a facebook friend visited CT (her 2nd visit I think) sometime between late Mar-mid April (can't rem) and it was gloriously sunny and she said hardly a soul around. So if I ever was in Italy at that time of year, I'd think about returning.

Posted by
116 posts

We were in Monterossa that last few days of April this year, and it was wonderful! The trains were full at times with school kids on field trips, but after they dispersed it was not crowded with tourists. We are not hikers, but it didn't appear to be many people on the trails. It seems to me that May - September are the busy months. My husband wants our next trip to be a little earlier in April or even in March. He does not like crowds, and he loved Monterosso!! It was his favorite place.