This is it folks! The moment none of you have been waiting for you. Fresh, off the boat, Cinque Terre pictures that look the same or worse than the millions of CT pictures out there. It took me 8 trips or so to finally see the famous five villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Rick Steves, Monterosso. Its not official yet, but as you can see, there’s a strong push to rename one, so I’m just one step ahead.
But in order to combat the Rick Steves fan club, and fully appreciate the villages, one needs to stay here for at least a few nights. And since driving inside the National Park is extremely limited, its better to stay outside, in places like Levanto or Porto Venere. Consider Hotel Abetaia, near Levanto. Comfortable, quiet (in the middle of the woods, but modern), good food. And they set you up with a parking permit in Levanto. Consider staying at least 2 nights in order to have a full day at the villages. Here’s a full day sample itinerary:
Park in Levanto by the train station
Take train to Monterosso al Mare
Hike to Vernazza (Moderate. Wear appropriate shoes, otherwise they will stop you and turn you around. We witnessed it)
Have lunch at Il Pirata delle 5 Terre. Sicilian brothers making all sorts of seafood magic. Try the tuna. You may experience heaviest crowds at this village
Take a boat to Riomaggiore to see the village from the water. Explore Riomaggiore – walk up to the church and Castello.
Take train to Manarola. Make sure to take the correct scheduled train that will stop at Manarola. Not every passing train does. We initially got on the wrong train and quickly came out,
Have an early dinner at the awesome Cappun Magru and have the namesake dish. Its the perfect place with the perfect opening hours for this itinerary.
Explore Manarola including a walk on top by the vineyards to see Manarola from above. Then see the Sunset from the Manarola Scenic Viewpoint (see Google Maps). This is why you are here.
Take train to Levanto
Write thank you note, or name first born, Ziggy