Driving Italy: Picture perfect Cinque Terre
Literally translates to the five lands, these sea side locations are becoming a hot spot for Europeans to get their dose of sun, water and Italian beauty.
DAY 4: Cinque Terre
I had heard about driving a car into Cinque Terre – don’t do it. The roads are small, the parking is limited and the costs are exuberant. So heeding that message we drove to Levanto and caught the train in. You’ll still have to pay for parking but for a day it’s about €15 for a carpark spot, or free if you can snare a spot on the street. The train comes every 30 minutes and you have the option of paying €3,90 to access one town or all five in a day for €15. Levanto to the closest of the Cinque Terre towns takes six minutes.
Cinque Terre wasn’t originally wasn’t high up on my radar because we had to cross the width of northern Italy to get there, but so many good things were said it made it on the list and on reflection was definitely worth it.
We’d only allocated half a day, which is clearly not enough time to explore all five. I made it to two – Monterosso and Manarola – the first and fourth if going from west to east. The other three are Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore.
Is the most touristy of the towns, with more stores catering to out of towners – souvenirs and the like – lining the promenade. Monterosso also has the only beach in Cinque Terre that is appealing to sun bathers and swimmers. You will have to pay €5 to step foot on to the sand, and if you want a deck chair it will be around €11 all up. There’s also a charge for changing areas. I do miss Australia where beaches are free access.
When you get off the train, you will find yourself at the western part of the town. You’ll instantly be greeted by sand and small waves. If you keep walking down the path to the east, you’ll come across several other beaches, which tend to be a little less crowded.
And in the distance, you’ll see signs pointing you to walks to the other Cinque Terre towns. Like anything in the region, you’ll have to pay for such use. However, you can get to the top of the small cliff that overlook back to Monterosso if you are keen on seeing a wide view of the area.
The fourth of the towns doesn’t have sand but it has rocks and ones which you can jump off.
Coming out of the train station, you’ll walk through a long tunnel before coming out in the edge of the main strip where the restaurants and some accommodation are located. If you follow this way, you’ll meet the water, and following the obvious path takes you around to another area tucked away from most of the congestion. Make sure you do follow the path, and look back. You get a stunning view of Manarola and the picture that often comes up when you search for Cinque Terre – that is, the town sitting on a cliff face (first image on this post and vine).
The other little gem in Manarola is located on a path behind the train station. Here you will get a view looking back on three other towns as the cliff protrudes the furthest out to sea.
There’s an obvious appeal to stay at one of these beach resorts and definitely take in what Cinque Terre has to offer. But with an influx of tourists now choosing this location as a summer getaway, be prepared to pay a little more than originally thought.