August 28, 2009, 05:32 AM
Tuscany to Cinque Terra
We will be spending two weeks in Italy in late Sept. We will be in Florence the first week and then we move south to Praiano the second week. During the first week we were planning to spend a day or so in Cinque Terra. Can you tell me how long it takes to get there from Florence (where we will be based) and whether this is a reasonable side trip for us? From what I have read, it seems the best way to travel the area is by train.
Any advice you can offer is appreciated.
August 28, 2009, 03:20 PM
definitely possible to do a day trip from Florence
Ciao Anna and welcome to our forum!
Yes, once you're in Cinque Terre the easiest way to move around between the towns is by train (or by foot through the trails - the most southern of the five towns are really close to each other and the trail is pretty flat between Cornaglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore). It is also easiest to go by train from Florence since you then don't have to worry about your car and driving the steep roads there. It is a national park and space is limited so driving is not encouraged.
We went in April taking the train from Florence, it was about a 2 1/2 hour trip. We took the 7.50 am train from Florence to Monterosso, changing trains in La Spezia and got in at 10.17. We had decided to hike all the way down the Cinque Terre and started at Monterosso because the most difficult part of the trail lies between Monterosso and Vernazza - lots of steps to climb up around a mountain and then to descend into Vernazza. We had decided to spend the night there so that we wouldn't be in a hurry to get back to Florence so you can do that as well, maybe toward the end of your week in Florence.
You can also do it all in a day - you don't have to hike the whole trail (takes 5-6 hours) - since the train connects each of the towns so you can hop on and off and just visit the towns without doing the trails or maybe just a part of the trail. The most famous part (and easiest as it is short and flat) is the "Via dell'Amore" (Way of Love) which is the part that joins Manarola to Riomaggiore (the last two towns south). Just make sure to get a park pass that includes train travel so that you can use it unlimited times.
You can read more details about the Cinque Terre on our blog post about our weekend at the Cinque Terre.
August 29, 2009, 06:14 AM
Cinque Terra and Florence
Thank so much for your thoughtful response. I have a couple more questions -- first -- we were planning to make our lodging arrangements when we get to Cinque Terra -- is this feasible?
- second --I must also ask you about the towns and festivals in Tuscany. We will be there toward the end of Sept. Do you have any recommendations for us? We are thinking about visiting Lucca and San Gimignano -- anything else we should not miss?
August 29, 2009, 04:51 PM
I really don't know how busy Cinque Terre is toward the end of Sept. You can definitely wait till you arrive to find a place to stay - all of the train stations should have a visitor's office that will help you find accommodation. In addition to what you might find on the web, we saw lots and lots of homes throughout that had signs out front advertising "rooms to let" and which might be easier to get once you're there in any case.
If you want to have an idea of what some of these look like, the official park website has a long list which looks pretty complete: http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/s...mo_5_terre.asp
As for festivals - at the end of September start the fall food and wine festivals. You can already see a few listed here, Events in Tuscany Calendar, including the "grape festival" in Impruneta (close to Florence) the last Sunday in September as well as the Carro Matto in Florence itself. Fall is chestnut, truffles, wild boar, new olive oil and new wine season - almost every weekend sees some type of "sagra" going on throughout Tuscany but many of these are more easily publicized locally closer to the event itself. Keep checking the calendar as we will continue to add more events as soon as learn about them.