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!
After exploring a little bit of Corniglia, we went to Vernazza, the neighbouring village. Train fare is 1.80 Euro from Corniglia Station, and the ride took less than 10 minutes.
Just in front of the station, there’s the main street, Via Roma, that is lined with little cafes, restaurants, shops, grocery stores as well as colourful houses and steps that lead to more cliff houses. Vernazza is packed with tourists, unlike the quiet Corniglia, but nonetheless, the village is beautiful.
Via Roma, Vernazza.
Shops, cafes and houses at the main street.
Via Roma runs to the main square through Via G. Guidoni. The main square, known as Piazza Marconi, is where the small natural harbour is located. Having a small harbour with an amphitheatre shape makes it the most quaintest of the five villages. Local fishermen dock their colourful boats here and unload their catch of the day that they will immediately sell to the restaurants around the village.
After spending time at Piazza Marconi, we walked up the trekking steps that lead to Monterosso Al Mare. We made it just to the top to view Vernazza from up the cliff.
Then we went down and climbed the opposite steps that lead to Corniglia. At first we wanted to walk all the way to Corniglia which is 1 and a half hour away but we skipped the idea because my shoes were not meant for hiking. And we actually have to pay 7.50 Euro to continue walking. We thought we just get down and take the train and pay 1.80 Euro instead. Cheaper and safer. ;P
The view was breathtaking. We glad that we climbed the cliff.
We had a nice lunch at a restaurant by the cliff which is called Bar Ristorante La Torre. The waiter, Andrea, was friendly and recommended us nice lunch and learned some Malay Language from us. He wished us Selamat makang. Yup, Vernazza can be like Terengganu. Few minutes later his cook came and wished us Sala makan.
We had a great time at Vernazza. Climbing up to the top to have the beautiful view and food was the best thing that we did here. If we ever visited Cinque Terre again, we will make sure to wear hiking boots and hike to all five villages.
The Cinque Terre comprises of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso al Mare (by order, if taking a train from La Spezia), and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Evi and I had picked Riomaggiore earlier because we found one small cheap room to share but when our friend, Evelyn, decided to join us for this fun trip, we could not find a room that fit 3 persons at Riomaggiore that is within our lean budget. So we searched booking dot com and found a cheap apartment at Corniglia that can fit 3 persons.
From the train station, Evelyn who reached Corniglia earlier, told us to take the City Centro bus just outside the train station. We paid 2.50 Euro to the bus driver, but then found out later from Evelyn that we could get cheaper bus ticket from the small tourism office located inside the station. Alternatively, we can climb Lardarina, a long brick flight of more than 300 steps, but we were both not up to it as we had been travelling since morning and did not have the energy to climb up. We would be blue-black catching our breath. ;P
The village stretches along the main road, Fieschi Road (or Via Fieschi), and the houses have one side facing this road and the other facing the sea. Corniglia is characterised by narrow roads and a terrace in the rock from which all other four Cinque Terre’s villages, two on one side and two on the other, can be seen. The houses are lower set, and only more recently higher, similar to those of the villages of the hinterland.
My two travelling buddies, Evelyn and Evi, busy capturing photos at Via Fieschi.
Narrow Fieschi Road.
Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea. Instead, it is on the top of a promontory about 100 metres high, surrounded on three sides by vineyards and terraces, the fourth side descends steeply to the sea.
The origin of the village dates back to the Roman Age as testified by the name, which finds its roots in Gens Cornelia, the Roman family to whom the land belonged. In the Middle Ages it was a possession of the counts of Lavagna, the lords of Carpena and of Luni. In 1254 Pope Innocent IV gave it to Nicolò Fieschi, who held it until 1276, when the village was acquired by the Republic of Genoa.
We spent only a short time discovering Corniglia the day we arrived and the next morning before going to Vernazza in the afternoon. As for food, we had pasta al pomodorro, lemon pie, sandwich with anchovies, bell pepper, eggplant and olive and of course not leaving behind, our favourite drinks; coffee and hot chocolate.
Here are more photos around Corniglia:
Having breakfast at the piazza.
Having limoni (lemon) pie at the terrace by the cliff.
Lemon is one of the main crops at Cinque Terre.
From Corniglia, we witnessed the sunrise over Manarola and ended the day witnessing a sunset over Monterosso. We will never forget the feeling nor the beauty.
“My luggage is too heavy, I think I wanna leave it here and take few clothes with me. I don’t think dragging it along will do me good,”I broke the silence while Evi and I packed our luggage before we leave the guesthouse in Bologna for Cinque Terre. Evi looked at me and agreed right away. We thought that each our luggage would be lighter after selling some of our books at the fair, but that was not the case. We bought books and collected some brochures/postcards, and that certainly cover the weight of the books that we sold. After communicating with the guesthouse owner via Whatsapp, we left our luggages that we will collect in five days and paid 3 Euro.
Three days earlier,we bought our tickets to Cinque Terre (Corniglia, specifically) for 19.15 Euro each. If we buy on the day we leave, the fare would be more expensive. Or we might have to take a different route with more expensive fare.
From Bologna to Corniglia, we have to change train three times. As written on the ticket, we have to travel through Modena, Parma and Fornovo. We were not sure whether to get down at Modena or Parma, so we followed our instincts; get down at Parma. So, we did. So far, so good.
We waited at Parma Stazione for one hour for the connecting train to La Spezia. We boarded the train but we had doubts whether to get down at Fornovo or La Spezia. We both agreed to board down at Fornovo as we thought that maybe there’s another connecting train there.
We thought wrong. Fornovo station is just a small station, not an interchange station. So we had to wait for two hours for another train to La Spezia to arrive. We felt stupid, of course, because the only way to Corniglia is through La Spezia. ;P
We wandered outside the station and found a cafe. We had vegetable pies and coffee and took the chance to complete our previous sketching from Bologna.
A photo posted by Em – Illustrator, Malaysia. (@emilayusof) on
Somewhere along the way from Fornovo to La Spezia, Evelyn (my previous travel partner to Arcidosso back in 2014), texted me that she already arrived at Corniglia. Poor girl had to wait more than two hours for us to arrive. But she really enjoyed the time waiting. She had good late lunch, coffee and went sight-seeing around the area.
We arrived at La Spezia Centrale around 5.30pm. From La Spezia, we had to take another train (Levanto bound) and boarded off at Corniglia. We passed by Riomaggiore and Manarola before reaching Corniglia.
So to sum it up; we took 3 regional trains: Bologna – Parma – La Spezia – Corniglia. And from Corniglia Station, we took a bus (City Centro) to Corniglia village center and paid 2.50 Euro. We found out later that we can buy the bus ticket at the tourist counter for 1.50 Euro.
After we settled our things in our tiny apartment, we went exploring the village.
We, finally made it after dreaming about visiting Cinque Terre for years.
We explored Corniglia and Vernazza, two of five villages of Cinque Terre.We wanted to visit all but a full one day is certainly not enough to cover all. Well, we can do it quickly, hop in the train, get down, take photos, hop in the train again to the next station and so on until we cover all five villages but that is not what we have in mind. We like to take our time and enjoy, and yes, keep the other three villages for next time.
I will post about Corniglia and Vernazza in two separate postings later tomorrow.