Okay, the time to speak about my birthplace came. I do not usually like writing about it because since I was born and and have been living here for my whole life, there is nothing so interesting for me, it is just everyday life. On the other hand, in these recent years the tourism in my area skyrocketed and every year, especially during summer, the number of tourism increased more and more, that now reached a point of non return. The villages and the people do not know much about tourism as they have always lived in poverty and working hard to get some money and live peacefully their life. They had to go through a lot of efforts in order to get a good life because the territory of Cinque Terre is hostile: cliffs overhanging the sea, steep stairs, vineyards on the edge of the mountains.
You know, the territory shapes the people and makes us be what we are, since our territory is so harsh and hostile towards us, as consequence our character is rough and treat people in the same way nature treated us. Many people indeed say we are rude towards tourists and I do not deny but try to imagine these people living isolated for all their life and now they meet people from all around the world, even from countries they did not even know the existence of, speaking in English or French or any other languages with them. Before, they just had to deal with nature, now with people of different cultures and for them, who are old and tired, is hard to change. This brief introduction is intended to make you understand better the origins of our rudeness and realize that we do not do it on purpose but because we are really not used to globalization and tourism but everything is changing now as more and more young people get interested in languages and find ways to benefit from tourism.
In this article, I will explain you what are the ways to get around the National Park of Cinque Terre with pros and cons. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask me because I am a local and I know way more than those tourist guides you buy in bookstores 😉
Rent A Car
I start with the option I hate the most. I must say that I do not know much about prices or the places where you could rent a car because I never had the need to rent one (my parents have two) but I highly advice you to avoid, especially if you are from those countries that drive on the opposite like Australia or the UK. I am not saying this because I doubt your driving skills or because I am racist but last year it happened a very sad thing. Two friends were riding a motorbike on the correct way (according to our standard) but an australian couple, driving a rented car, crash into them, making them fall out of the street and landed on a cliff. They said that they forgot that they had to drive in the opposite direction…I mean it is human to make mistakes but on the street you must always be extra careful, especially if you are not used to drive like us. Another reason why I discourage everyone from renting a car is that the routes are like….destroyed. The landslides made everything worse! The streets of Cinque Terre are already very narrow and bumpy on their own but the recent bad weather destroyed them even more. There were many cases of accidents because people with rented cars (sometimes even with a private driver) drive on these streets with big cars blocking the flow of other vehicles maybe due to the fact that they cannot drive well or just because the size is just too big. It is very hard to drive on these bumpy streets, even for locals (my parents had many accidents too) so try to avoid if possible. If you really are a big fan of cars and like bumpy roads, rent at least a small sized car like a Fiat Panda xD By the way, I was about to forget, but due to the landslides some roads are even closed, like the one to Vernazza and Monterosso, the furthest villages, so in order to reach them you must take a very rural and narrow road.
Everything I said for the “Rent A Car” part is valid for this section too. It does not mean that you must be skilled drivers but at least, when you come here, do not expect to find super shining and repaired routes and be prepared for the worst xD A disadvantage that cars have, is that you have to pay for the parking…and it is not something not to consider! The parking is very expensive in Cinque Terre and the parking lot is located very far away from the city centre, especially in Vernazza and in Manarola. I do not remember well the prices because, as I am not a car owner, I do not usually go and park there but I remember that it was something like 5 euros per hour….So I leave you the choice xD
AHAHAHA buses…forget them! We really have a few that allow the transfer to a village to another one. There is a bus that comes from Biassa and goes to Riomaggiore and others that bring you from Riomaggiore to other minor villages on the way but there is not a public bus that allows you to visit the 5 villages. Furthermore, if you are planning to get on a bus in Cinque Terre, bear in mind that they are extremely small. How can a big bus move in such rural roads?! It is full of curves and the streets do not have two lanes, therefore they are provided with small buses. It is quite uncomfortable when people with big luggage get on and take the whole bus from themselves. I do know that they are not aware of this fact and I do not blame them, that is why I am writing this article so that I can help such people to be more prepared when they come here 😉 Another very useful piece of advice is: do not ducking buy tickets on bus! I always see tourists buying tickets on buses, I would like to tell them: no! do not do it! If you buy a ticket on board, the price is doubled! If you buy a normal ticket in a shop is 1,30 euros, if you buy on board, more than two euros.
Train is the best! Even though italian trains suck quite much, in Cinque Terre the only way to move around easily and fast is the train. The villages are very well connected and, since last year, they boosted the transport introducing this train service called “Cinque Terre Express”, now there are three trains every hour for Cinque Terre, which is very good, because before there were even less. Something you need to know is that at every train station of Cinque Terre (in La Spezia too), there is a stand selling the Cinque Terre Card. It is very useful if you are going to spend at least one day wandering around here. With this ticket, you can: use every train that runs from La Spezia to Levanto, as long as it is not a posh train like Intercity or Freccia, use the buses in Cinque Terre National Park territory (La Spezia buses are not included), Wi-Fi avalaible at every train station and hiking trails (this one is pretty useless as the avalaible hiking trails are just two, all the others have been closed down due to landslides and never got fixed since then). The price for a one day ticket is 16 euros.
A good alternative to the trip on train would be the boat service. The boat service is quite boosted and connect all the 5 villages with La Spezia and even another city on the opposite coast of La Spezia called Lerici. From the boat, you will also have another perspective of the villages as you see them from the sea and in my opinion is the best. You can even enjoy sea life 😉 The price of the ticket depends on various factors like the season and the route so I advice you to check the website out: Boat Service it is avalaible in multiple languages such as: italian, english, french, russian, german and spanish.
Until now I have been spitting out names that you might have never heard of, even if you visited Cinque Terre but if you want to understand better, here I will post a map with the exact locations of the 5 villages and the main starting point to visit them, that is to say La Spezia.
Click on the blue points to get to know more about the places:
In A Nutshell:
- The best option to consider for moving around Cinque Terre is Train
- Buy the Cinque Terre Card
- The card includes: buses, trains, hiking trails and Wi-Fi
- Boat as a good alternative if you like the sea
- Renting a car is not preferable
- Parking lots are expensive
- The roads are bumpy
Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? How was your stay? Or maybe some of you are planning to visit here? Leave your opinions and comments below and if you have other questions, feel free to ask me.