Vernazza, Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre is a beautiful place to visit. A well-planned trip can allow you to save time and cost of travelling as well as place to stay, thus I am writing to share the tips on how to plan for your travel.
Cinque Terre consists of 5 villages; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Browse the Internet to get insights on which village that suits your preference.
When to visit – It depends on your preference. Most travellers prefer to visit in the summer to get the best weather for swimming and lounging on the beach. I visited Cinque Terre in early Spring ( a bit rainy, I have no choice as I took the chance of visiting the terre after the book fair), and and I wasn’t planning on swimming at all.
Airports near to Cinque Terre – The closest airports to travel to Cinque Terre are Pisa, Florence and Genoa. I did mine from Bologna as it was my base during the book fair.
Transfer to Cinque Terre. From any airport above, get to the nearest train station (Centrale) and buy ticket to the village of your preference. Bear in mind that, you have to change train more than once. In my case; Bologna-Parma-La Spezia-Corniglia. My train ticket fare from Bologna to Corniglia was €19.15. Ticket from Florence – Pisa – La Spezia – Corniglia for €14.90. If you take a train from Pisa Centrale, it will be just around €11.40, above an hour ride with route Pisa-La Spezia-village of your preference.
You can check train schedule and fee at Trenitalia website and buy online. You can either print your ticket or just use your mobile phone and show your booking code to the ticket inspector. More info here on ticketless purchase. If you are not buying online, you can still use the schedules to plan your itinerary.
Reminder: train ticket must be time-stamped in a machine at a station before you get on the train. If you do not time-stamp the tickets, you could just keep on using them for many journeys, so there is €100 fine for travelling without the ticket having been validated. However, this only applies to ticket that could be used on more than one train (regional train). If your train ticket is for a specific date and time with an assigned seat, you do NOT need to validate it at all, since it can’t be used again anyway (city train/fast train).
Place to stay. I use booking.com because I like to change my mind a lot. I always opt for room that I can cancel in case I found cheaper room, and opt to pay cash.
Online connection. I bet you would want to share your photos online. I bought a WIND local sim card; that cost me 30 Euro, with 5GB data plan. It worked fine around Italy but however, the network did not work while in the La Spezia region. My network got disconnected after La Spezia station and only got it back after leaving La Spezia two days later. My advice; get a room with free Wi-Fi connection. Or you can buy Cinque Terre Card to get WI-FI internet connection in the Park’s Hot Spots. If you get to Vernazza, you can buy the Wi-Fi from Internet Point shop at Via Roma (the main road). If you get to Corniglia, free Wi-Fi can be obtained easily at any cafe around the square. You just need to dine-in or have coffee and ask for the password.
Things to do in Cinque Terre.
a. Taking photos is a must. Just be prepared with a good camera/smart phone. Make sure you bring along extra battery, charging cable and plug adapter. Do wake up early to capture the sunrise and do not forget to capture the sunset too.
Views from a terrace at Corniglia.
b. Hiking any of the trails is a popular thing to do while visiting Cinque Terre. Some of the trails might be closed. These are the available trails during my trip: Corniglia – Vernazza and Vernazza – Monterosso. Check updates on the trails here.
c. Before you go on hiking, you need to buy Cinque Terre cards from the Info Counter at the village train station or at Information Center at La Spezia Train Station. There are 2 types of card: Cinque Terre Trekking Card and Cinque Terre Card Train Multi-Service. Check Cinque Terre National Park website for more information on the cards.
If you prefer not to buy the train card, it is OK too, you can just take the train to next station for 1.80 Euro (one way) and explore the village.
d. And oh, do not forget to bring a good hiking shoes. And lots of water. I saw many of the hikers using hiking stick, you can bring that one too if you like.
Places to eat – For Muslim, there’s no halal places, Pakistani or Arab restaurant/cafe around Cinque Terre. You can opt eating seafood or vegetable pasta or salad. Or you can buy breads and spread, and eat it in your room or pack it in your bag. Here are some Italian words that can help you in selecting your food; verdure – vegetable, pollo – chicken, manzo – beef, insalata – salad, pane – bread. Do install translation apps on your smart phone for easy translation on the go.
So there you go. Happy planning!