Cinque Terre……..the Second Time Around
It was Easter weekend and I had nothing planned (I know….not like me at all). I usually have everything ready to go and all I have to do is board the plane, but I don’t know what was different about this weekend. I had my heart set on going to Naples, but I just couldn’t decide what to get into. Then out of nowhere a travel buddy says lets go to Cinque Terre…………. I’m thinking to myself …… been there, done that, I even tried talking him into going to Naples, but after doing the numbers it was more cost effective to head Cinque Terre and I was not about to stay home because I had already been there before…………so I was like, “ok, let’s go!”
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Cinque Terre the first time, I would highly suggest that you go there for absolutely amazing views of Italy’s coastline and great seafood, but since I moved to Italy there are SO many new things to see and do, I mean the opportunities are endless, so I’d just like to go see something new if given the option.
The first time I went to Cinque Terre was about 8 months ago. I went with a tour group, so transportation, one hotel night, a tour guide, boat ride and train tickets were provided. We were only able to visit 2 of the 5 towns because there had been a mud slide that made train service inoperable in some areas, but what I did see I was very pleased with. I enjoy having and listening to a tour guide when I travel because they can provide you with history and little known facts about locations that you would never have known when exploring on your own.
This trip was different…..my travel buddy and I planned the entire trip…so no bus service and no escorted tours. We were going to take the train for around 150 euro per person but I suggested driving because I thought it would be more cost effective. After all, it was only a 3.5 hour drive and we would only have to refuel once on the way back home and that and tolls would be less than $150 in gas.
For accommodations, we used Air B&B. I was an Air B&B virgin…as much as I travel I had never used the Travel App. I heard both good and bad things, but I was satisfied with using hotels I guess. I noticed, although Air B&B’s may come a little cheaper, you don’t get all the services that hotels offer – some Air B&B’s require you to bring your own linens, some require you to bring your own towels, some charge non-refundable deposits, some charge cleaning fees…..so although the Air B&B may be cheaper…I know I will be getting bed with linens and towel to shower with when I go to a hotel. HOWEVER, because it was Easter weekend hotels were mostly sold out, with so little options we were kinda forced to use Air B&B. We got a small, cute place right in the center of Riomaggoire. Two nights in a two bedroom, one bath with a kitchen; no living room and no TV (which you shouldn’t need anyway) cost us $284 including a cleaning fee.
Once we arrived we hit the road! The train station was right down the street from our place. You can purchase a 1-day train pass for 12 euro per person which allows you to use the trains at your leisure for that day (or beginning whatever day you have it time-stamped). Since we were spending 3 days there, we opt’ed for the 2-day train pass for 23 euro per person, which gives you access to trains, buses (when you don’t want to walk up any steep hills), bathrooms, Wi-Fi at the train stations and allows you to hike from city to city through the Cinque Terre National Park over a 2-day period. Note that there are free hiking trails and some trails that you have to pay to hike.
I can say that although I wasn’t thrilled about going back to Cinque Terre, this was one of my best trips! I thought because it was Easter it was going to be crazy busy, NOPE! Everything was open on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. The weather was PERFECT. Perfect for hiking, but not so much for the beach. It was a little chilly to get in the water this time of year. This time I was able to visit and walk around all FIVE towns!! I wasn’t confined to set times with a tour guide, I was able to roam freely from town to town. Last time I didn’t get a chance to hike, this time I was so happy (although my booty and legs weren’t) that I was able to see the most amazing views while hiking from city to city. This was a totally AMAZING trip!! There are only 2 things I will caution you about, Cinque Terre is known for its hiking paths, you can take the train from town to town, but the best views are in the hills, but these hills are VERY steep and I wouldn’t suggest them for out of shape folks. Secondly, parking is scarce. There are a few parking garages and the parking lots fill up quickly especially on the weekends. We had to park on the street and hike it to our Air B&B. If you can get to Cinque Terre by train it may be a good option.
I have only been on vacation to the same location repeatedly once (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) in all my travels……………………this experience may open my eyes into revisiting some places again.
One last note: Try these is Cinque Terre: Fried Sardines, Fried Calamari, Sciacchetra (sweet wine only made in Cinque Terre). And sunbathe on the beach or take a dip in the water after a hiking adventure!!!