A ride along the Cinque Terre by Train

Cinque Terre: A region beyond compare

Vernazza in Cinque Terre, Italy

Vernazza in Cinque Terre, Italy © Joe Duck http://www.flickr.com/people/joeduck/

Cinque Terre translates into “five lands”. This translation stands for the five villages virtually etched into the rocks between the sea and the hills: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. There is much to see and do in this area, from hiking and swimming to wine tasting and admiring gorgeous sunsets. Despite the rugged landscape, getting here is quite easy by train.

La Spezia is your point of departure to the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital city of the eponymous province, La Spezia isn’t without things to see. This port boasts numerous churches and cathedrals and not one – but two castles. The fort-like Castle of San Giorgio has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, the first being in 1262. Lorenzo de Medici constructed “La Cittadella” in the late 15th century. Both are worthwhile visits before taking off to the towns.

Eurostar Italia has direct connections to La Spezia from Rome, Florence and Pisa. Once here, getting around the five towns is simple thanks to the Regionale train that makes all the local stops: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola. Riomaggiore is yours in just eight minutes from La Spezia.

The biggest village of Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare. Here you will find a beach,castle and a 17th century monastery containing some valuable works of art. It is the most touristy of the villages.

Monterosso is a spectacular town and is nearly split by the tunnel and the mountains. Visitors walking down from Vernazza will come upon the old town with a beached section right in front of them. Definitely take time to stroll through this area and take in all it has to offer. It is filled with many small, character enriched streets where you can find shops and delightful restaurants.

There is the newer part of town also, however, it is not quite as charming as the old town. You can find hotels and newer style restaurants in the new town. It is a nice area, just lacks the charm and appeal the old town boasts.

Lets move on to Vernazza now. Vernazza is considered to be the favorite village in the Cinque Terre region. The village is dominated by the Round Tower and the ruins of medieval fortifications. Visitors especially come to visit the harbor that can be found next to the village square.

You can spend the day walking around the town, then head to the square for a bite to eat. You can sit by the harbor and enjoy your lunch while watching the waves on the ocean or treat yourself to a nice dinner and gaze at the setting sun.

Next stop, Corniglia. What sets this village apart from others in the Cinque Terre region is the fact that it is not immediately connected to the sea. It is noted for its vineyards and olive groves, as it stands proudly on the principal road over a rocky cliff dropping to the sea.

The San Pietro Church can be found here in Corniglia. It is one of the most interesting gothic monuments of Liguria and the Cinque Terre. The church was built in 1334 on the remains of an 11th century chapel and was then done up.

Below the square of the church, there is a black stone building with gothic arches. Folklore identifies this building as having the old post of the Fieschi family.

To reach Corniglia, it is necessary to climb the Lardarina, which is a long brick flight of steps composed of 33 flights with 377 steps. You can also follow a vehicular road that leads you to the village from the main rail station.

An amazing town with awe-inspiring views! Don’t miss it on your trip!

The fourth village is Manarola. This village was founded during the 12th century. It is considered to be the most characteristic village of the Cinque Terre. The people found in this village add a great deal to the character that surrounds the town. A village of warm, welcoming people is what you’ll find here!

Be sure to stop by the gothic style church found atop the hill above the residential area. The church dates back to 1338. You can stroll up a bit further and visit the cemetery of Manarola. From the cemetery you’ll notice a path that skirts the sea, have a walk down and you’ll come to pebbled beaches to spend a few hours on.

Our last stop in the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the Cinque Terre. It was founded in the 8th century by a group of Greeks. In 1276, this village fell under rule of Genoa.

Visitors to Riomaggiore marvel at the medieval type architecture that make up the town. One of the must-sees in this village is the church of Saint John Baptist. It makes up a big part of the landscape found in this village and certainly worth a look.

Amongst the different attractions which can be found here in Riomaggiore, above all, be sure to see the Via dell’Amore – the Path of Love. It is a path that winds along the coast, above the sea, offering unforgettable views and connects the village to Manarola.

While we’ve given you a taste of the Cinque Terre, to truly appreciate the area, you must go and see it for yourself. It is a terrific vacation spot, especially for those who enjoy hiking, walking and swimming. With so many trails, as well as ample amounts of water to dive into, you’ll have plenty to do to keep you busy!

For those of you who are not too much into the athletic side of life, you’ll find many things for you as well. Everything from sitting in a square people-watching, to photographing the breathtaking scenery that lies before you.

Go today and experience all the Cinque Terre has to offer, it will be a trip of a lifetime!

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 3:56 pm and is filed under Things To Do. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

  • tim hendricks

    What is the best way to get to Cinque Terra from Florence? Does the Italy Rail Pass cover the entire journey on the train or only the major portions, like Florence to La Spezia? How much are the train fares between the towns? I’m trying to figure if the additional travel days on the pass are worth it if I’m only going between the 5 towns. Thanks.

    Tim Hendricks

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      Hi Tim,
      Taking a train from Florence to Riomaggiore via La Spezia is the best way to get into the Cinque Terre region. Train travel is covered with an Italy Rail Pass, however, because most of the train travel into and within this region is local/regional service, reservations are not possible. So basically you hop on the train, show your pass and find a seat. If the trains are busy, you may end up standing for some or all of the ride. The approximate cost of the ride from Florence to Riomaggiore is about $60 in 1st class, $45 in 2nd. Riomaggiore and Monterosso are the two towns in this region that have rail service. The others have limited/local rail service. Hope that helps!

  • santiago

    Hi,
    I was wondering if there will be passenger service during late July to and from viarregio despite the huge accident that happened there.
    Thankyou

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      Bus transportation has been substituted in place of rail service in this area. However, train service should be restored on July 3rd, to Viareggio. By late July, you should not encounter a problem. Enjoy!

  • katsnow

    Which train station do you use? There are three options on the italian railway website.

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      The train station to use typically depends on where you’re looking to travel. Which cities were you researching? Within a particular city, there can be several stations. These stations operate trains to different cities/countries. And usually there is one main station in the heart of the city. If you can provide your city pairs, I can offer you further information, thanks!

  • Sonny

    Hi, How often is the train service from La Spezia to Riomaggiore?

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      There is at least one train connection per hour on this route from La Spezia to Riomaggiore. During mid-day, there are between 2 and 3 trains. The journey time is approximately 10 minutes. This routing is on a local train, and would be covered with a Eurail Italy pass. And right now, purchase your pass by December 31, 2009 and receive a 20% discount on it! Hope that helps!

  • William

    Hi Akoos: Which train station is best if I am taking a taxi from the port in Livorno then train from there to Monterosso. Then I will return to Livorno from Riomaggiore. Thanks.

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      Hi William, you will need to get to the Livorno Centrale station to take the train to Monterosso. The train ride is approximately 1.5 hours. On the way back from Riomaggiore, you will need to change trains in La Spezia or Pisa to make it back to Livorno. Hope that helps, let me know if you should have any other questions. Have a great day!

  • JoAnne

    Hi I just read on this website that there is a service whereby you can book a train ticket and car.
    Rail and Road. I am looking to go from Rome to Pisa by rail and have a car there for 2 weeks and then return to Rome by Rail. Do you have a website that I can go to to arrange this. It would rally help. Thanks and have a great day.

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      Thanks for your comment. You can look into an Italy Rail ‘n Drive pass. This sort of pass would provide you with unlimited rail transportation as well as the ability to arrange car rental. This link will help you discover more about this type of pass, of course, let us know if you have further questions, we’re happy to assist!

  • Patsy

    We are planning a trip to Cinque Terre next year and will be traveling from the Fiumcino Airport to LaSpezia. In looking at the stations in La Spezia, there seem to be several. Which is the main station? Also, is there service from the airport directly to LaSpezia? How long a ride would that be?

  • jacky

    Get a copy of Rick Steve’s ITALY. All you need to know plus more.

  • Julie

    Hi Akoos,

    We are staying in Riomaggiore, so we were planning on beginning our hike of Trail #2 in Monterosso and ending in Riomaggiore. We are going to take the train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso. Do you know how long that journey will take? Thanks!

    • http://www.raileurope.com akoos

      Hi Julie, the train trip from Riomaggiore to Monterosso is between 10-20 minutes depending on what time of day you travel. It’s a local train. You can view the schedule here, just enter in your desired travel date. I hope that helps!

  • Angela

    Hi,

    I’m planning a day trip from florence to cinque terra with a pit stop in pisa. What is the best route to get there? Do i need to buy the local/regional train ticket in advance or will there be available to purchase a ticket whenever? How often does the local/region train run into La spezia? Also how long would it be to hike from one end to the other end of cinque terra?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.languagesdirect.co.uk/ Rachell Lagman

    Interesting. Have been trying to learn a new language for a while now so this is extremely relevant! Thank you.

  • Julie Lawson

    Hi, My husband and I are going on our Honey moon. We will be flying into Fiumcino, and want to head right over to Cinque Terre. What is the best way to make this happen?

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