Updated: Jun 25, 2020
So as it turns out we are currently the only Americans in the hotel. It feels more like Germany or France than Italy. We have found a very international hotel. The staff are friendly the amenities are top notch and the food is very French.
See map: The Liguria Region
See map: Park Hotel Argento
After breakfast we walk down to the train station and buy our "Cinque Terre" pass. The pass allows us to get on and off the train at each Cinque Terre town. It also allows us use of free toilette vistis at each stop. A very good value! In Italy you pay to use the toilette, anywhere from .50 euro to 1.00 euro, the cost in the Cinque Terre. So, bonus!
We decide to start with the furthest town Riomaggore.
It happens to also be the largest of the five towns. Here you should plan on doing your shopping and eating. Not hard to do as there are many options.
See map: Riomaggiore
Most of the shopping in Cinque Terre is very, very tourist driven and mass produced. In between the tourist shops you can find a gem or two offering hand crafted wares of jewelry, pottery and clothing. If you find the right shop spend your time shopping as they are few and far between.
For food, use your google recommendations to find the perfect spot or just stop and enjoy a casual lunch.
Depending on the time of year you can opt to take the trail to the next town of Manarola.
See map: Manarola
Each trail is challenging with rough terrain and difficult hiking. It is not recommended unless you are very healthy, fit and prepared for the 2+ hours of hiking in the hot sun. If you meet the qualifications the views are spectacular!
Another option is to take the ferry boat from town to town and enjoy the view from the safety of the boat, as long as seasickness is not an issue. For me I am very prone to motion sickness and I am quite claustrophic so we chose the train.
We chose to visit just four of the five terres. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso. These were easily accessible by foot and a quick walk from the train station. We skipped Corniglia as it was a 300 step stair climb or a hot bus ride on an over crowded bus. No thank you!
Honestly, if you are having to choose between the Cinque Terre and another destination, I recommend the other destination, here's why. On it's own the Cinque Terre is beautiful and a sight to see, but once you add in the hoards of tourists, tourist driven shops and mediocre food, it kind of loses it's charm. Best to see it by sea and just visit one or two towns. We loved the smaller surrounding towns with almost no tourist, great food and the same charm as the five towns listed above.
You choose what works best for you. It is hard to say don't go, but after watching the constant flow of tourist fill the streets like running water, it just lost its lure.
After a long and tiring day we return to our seaside bar for a nightcap and snack. Finally a reprieve from the chaos of the day. See you tomorrow!