A place in Italy that we really wanted to visit is Cinque Terre and, luckily, recently we were able to escape there during an intense weekend. Do you feel like traveling with us to the Italian coast?
What is Cinque Terre
It is a national park bathed by the Ligurian Sea located an hour by train from Pisa, where we find five coastal towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. They are very beautiful and picturesque villages reminiscent of the amalfi coast and sorrentina but best of all, they are in a protected natural environment and basically you can only reach them by train, by boat or by walking along paths similar to round road of Catalonia.
How to go to Cinque Terre
To go to Cinque Terre you can fly to Pisa or to Genoa which are the closest airports. We went for the first one because Ryanair has a flight that leaves Girona on Friday night and returns on Sunday afternoon, making the most of the weekend. The flight cost us € 50 per person.
To go from Barcelona to Girona airport you can go by bus It leaves from Estació del Nord and costs € 12 round trip and € 21 round trip. We drove back home on Sunday as soon as possible. The parking in the Girona airport It is reasonably priced, especially if booked in advance. If you want to park in front of the terminal, Aena's parking is the most comfortable, and the two days will cost you € 20. One tip is that you book online and so it will be cheaper. You also have the option of Aparkivola. If you book on their website and fly with Ryanair, the day will cost you € 6. And if you park without a reservation, € 6.5 per day. This car park is about 10 minutes walk from the airport but has a shuttle service to the terminal. In high season it is advisable to book because it is full.
Once in Pisa, you have to take a train to La Spezia. There are more direct trains than others. It is best to buy the train ticket in the Trenitalia website with the maximum advance to be able to get a supereconomic price (€ 9) in the express. If not, you can buy the ticket at the box office or directly at the automatic machines that have the menus in Spanish. The direct train takes about 50 minutes and the normal fare is € 14.50 each way. It is important to validate the train ticket before boarding so that you do not get a fine.
Once in La Spezia you have to take the local train which leads to the Five Lands. As soon as you arrive at La Spezia station, it is recommended that you buy the Cinque Terre Card. There are two types: Cinque Terre Trekking Card It allows you to walk the trails, have Wi-Fi service at the train stations, use the bus service that connects the coastal villages with each other and with the mountain ones, and also have reduced access to some monuments. This card costs € 7.50 for one day.
On the other hand, the Cinque Terre Card Treno Multiservizi It provides everything mentioned in the previous one and also allows you to use the train unlimitedly throughout the day. This card costs € 12 for one day. It really goes on account, since each single train ticket costs about two euros and the train is used a lot.
When organizing the visit it is recommended that you download the local train schedules to have it on hand since when we bought the Cinque Terre Card they did not give it to us.
How to get from Pisa airport to the city center
There is a bus that takes you from the airport to the central train station for € 2 (Pisamover). As there was not this bus on the way (the plane arrived an hour and a half late, at 1am), we decided to take a taxi. The taxi from the airport to the B&B that was in the city center cost us € 13 and if you go to the central train station it will cost you about € 7. Upon returning, as we were not in a hurry, we decided to walk to the airport which is only 30 minutes walk from the train station.
Accommodation in Pisa
Since we arrived in Pisa quite late on Friday, we looked for accommodation in the city. If you want to leave for Cinque Terre first thing in the morning, it is best to book a hotel near the central station of Pisa (Pisa Centrale) as East or East. However, we also took the opportunity to visit the famous leaning tower and decided to stay in the center of Pisa in the B&B Due Borghi.
This family hotel is in the center, about ten minutes walk from the tower and 15 minutes from the train station. The room was very good and the breakfast, prepared by the owner, was very good. The bad thing (or not) is that the downtown area is the walking area and on Friday night there was a lot of party on the street that lasted until two in the morning.
Things to do in Cinque Terre
The main attraction is to visit the national park and the five villages that give it its name. The first town we found coming from La Spezia is Riomaggiore, but we decided to take the train to Manarola and the first day visit Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, then spend the night near Vernazza and the second day go by boat from Vernazza to Riomaggiore and visit this town before returning to Pisa.
Manarola (second town from south to north)
This rock-enchanted town is one of the most beautiful and romantic of the five. When you get off the train you have to cross the mountain through a long tunnel that leaves you halfway up the town. The streets are narrow and winding, with low-rise houses painted with striking colors, a characteristic characteristic of the five villages. We find boats parked on the street between restaurants and souvenir shops. Manarola has no beach, the town simply flows into the rocky coast and a ramp built of concrete makes it possible for fishermen's boats to access the sea.
Manarola's highlights are the Parish Church of San Lorenzo (1), which was built in 1338, the Bell Tower (2) located in front of the church and it was built with a defensive function. Near the coast we find the fortress ruins (3) and the bulwark (5) 16th century
They say the famous love trail that goes from Riomaggiore to Manarola, and that has a route of one kilometer, is one of the most beautiful that travel the coast of Cinque Terre. This is a stretch of the blue path, but last year there were rockfalls along the way and to date It is closed between Riomaggiore and Corniglia. That's why we take a train to the next town: Corniglia.
Corniglia (third town from south to north)
It is the only town of the five that has no access to the sea and is located on top of the mountain at a level of 100 meters. To get up from the station you have to climb the 377 steps of the stairs that lead to the town center.
From the center we walk the winding streets going up and down until we reach the ruins of the Corniglia Castle (3), which are from the 16th century. Nearby is the little one Oratory of St. Catherine (2). From the viewpoint at the end of the Via Fieschi you can see beautiful views of the sea and the national park.