Italy was completely a dream… as pictured above. The weather was pretty mild and the crowds were minimal. I LOVED IT! I think November is a pretty great time to visit Italy, but that’s another blog for another day 🙂
If you plan on visiting Italy, make sure you take a few days to visit Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is made up of 5 little villages (it literally means “five lands”) right on the coast.
These 5 little towns are so adorable & unique in their own way. We were able to visit all 5 as they are so close together! Also, they’re situated in a national park so everything is lush & beautiful.
|some locks between Monteroso & Corniglia|
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to Cinque Terre is going to be the only difficult part, and it’s not that bad. If you’re flying, I’d suggest flying into Genoa, taking the VOLABUS (€6) from the airport to the train station, and take a Trenitialia regional train to your town of choice. The trains are super easy to use, so just pick up a ticket when you get there. Keep in mind – these regional trains do not run as often, so all trains headed to Le Spezia will NOT necessarily stop in your town. Most of the towns don’t have cars, so you’ll need to walk to your apartment/hotel.
WHERE TO STAY
Anywhere you want. We stayed in Manarola & absolutely loved it. It was tiny, but there were plenty of great restaurants, coffee shops & markets, even in the off season. If we went back, I’d probably stay there or Corniglia (they were my favorites!). All the villages are close together, so there’s no bad option. Monteroso al Mare is the biggest with the most train times, HOWEVER – it’s also the most touristy. I personally wouldn’t want to stay there, because it’s not quite as charming as the other four… but that’s personal opinion. If you’re looking for a more resort-like experience, Monteroso is your best bet.
There are hotels in every village, but it’s truly an Airbnb place… before Airbnb was even a thing, you just rented rooms from locals. (I wrote a little bit about choosing an Airbnb in Cinque Terre here.) I’d also suggest getting a place with a nice balcony because it’s a beautiful place to relax after your long hike!
|Our deck (it was 4x the size of our apartment) in Manarola|
WHAT TO DO
The main reason people frequent Cinque Terre is the seaside hiking trail. Buy a Cinque Terre Card (€12 for 1 day) at the train stations in the whichever town you’re staying in. This gives you access to the national park that the hiking paths are on, free train rides throughout the 5 towns (we hiked all the way down and took the train back, for example), and includes wi-fi in certain spots.
|along the trail|
|A cat that walked with us for a good 45 minutes 🙂 We named her Sardenia 🙂|
You would definitely be missing out if you skip this! You don’t need to be a professional hiker or in insane shape to do this hike, but be prepared for a lot of uphill hiking! My phone said we climbed 128 flights of stairs that day, and I have a feeling it’s slightly off. I can’t stress this enough – wear athletic clothing. We saw people wearing jeans & cute flats… just don’t. You’ll thank me later.
|Some locks in Vernazzia|
We would hike from one town to the next, taking some time in each town to explore – grab lunch, a drink, or a gelato – then hike to the next one. We did it in one afternoon, but it would also be fun to break it up into 2.
|along the trail|
WHAT TO EAT
The Liguria provence (where Cinque Terre is located) is known for so many foods!
- Pesto – I’ve never had pesto like this before. The flavors are all so bright and wonderful, make sure you try it here.
- Trofie – Otherwise known as Ligurian Gnocchi, Trofie was my favorite pasta we tried the whole trip to Italy! It’s like long, skinny spiral pasta, but it’s very dense. If you have the chance, try it – especially with the pesto!
- Focaccia – One of the most famous breads in the world. If you love it at home, you’ll be obsessed with it here.
- Anchovies – Definitely not my cup of tea, but if there’s anywhere to try it – it’s here, because you can see the little boats out in the bay catching them at night! Try it the traditional way, with salt & olive oil.
- Limoncello – this Italian dessert wine may have come from Liguria. The whole area is covered by olive trees & lemon trees, so I wouldn’t be surprised! It was served complimentary at many restaurants which was nice. We also bought 2 little bottles of “the original limoncello”, from a man on the side of the trail, for €3 each 🙂
- Vino Bianco – White wine. They’re known for it! But hey, try the red, too. The ‘vino de la casa’ everywhere is cheap & delicious (this doesn’t apply to Cinque Terre only… but the entire country).
Like I said, a dream. We were so tired from the long hike, but it was SUCH a great way to start out our trip!
I also should note, all of these photos were taken with my new Fuji X30 camera. I only had to edit a couple of them…. because the camera is so amazing. If you’re looking for a DSLR for hobby photography & are looking for something compact… this is your best bet! It has tons of settings (both manual & automatic) and is only slightly bigger than a normal digital camera.. but with SO many perks! (It’s here if you’re interested)
This was only our first stop! Stay tuned for our next stop: ROME!
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I just found your blog and it's wonderful! My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in October and your itinerary looks ideal. Just to clarify…you flew into Genoa->Cinque Terre->Rome->Florence->Venice (fly out of venice)? Did this itinerary work well logistically? My email is megan dot lynn dot murphy @ gmail if you have time to send a quick email. Thanks SO much!
Megan, emailing you now – thanks! 🙂
Hi why do you recommend flying into Cinque Terra via Genoa over Pisa? I am flying in from London and am trying to figure the best route? Most people say Pisa is the best route so just curious why you think differently. Also do you have a recommendation on which airport (or train route) to take for easiest travel to Amsterdamn from Cinque Terra?
Hi John! We knew we wanted to start in CT and work our way down, so going to Pisa first seemed like backtracking (we did CT, Rome, Florence, Venice in that order, and flew home from Venice). However! If you aren't worried about that, Pisa is probably a great option. I thought Genoa worked well for our trip but wouldn't tell you not to do Pisa if that works for your itinerary or is a better price! The distance/time is basically the same. I would check your prices from London (don't forget to check Luton & Stanstead as they do a lot of inter-Euro flights) and see what's best. I would recommend flying from Amsterdam to either Genoa or Pisa, depending on scheduling and price. I would not recommend a train, as it will be extremely expensive and take a very long time! You can, however, do the EuroStar from London to Amsterdam if you haven't planned that section of your trip yet. My favorite for checking flight options is google.com/flights – you can choose multiple airports and date ranges, and it shows you the cheapest and quickest options. Shoot me an email if you have any more questions! Happy to help 🙂
Awesome post so helpful!!!! Made me so excited for my trip!
I'm jealous and excited for you!!!! Have so much fun! CT Is beautiful 🙂
We are planning on Italy in mid April for two weeks. Our tentative Itinerary is fly into Bologna then go to Cinque Terre –> stop by Pisa –>Florence –>Rome–>Venice–Bologna to fly home. There will be 4 adults and one 14 month old baby girl. We have about almost two days of Cinque Terre. Do you think it is too difficult with a 14month old baby?
I think it would be too difficult for a 14 month old to hike, even if she's a good walker.But if she's happy to be worn or carried, and all the adults can chip in with carrying, it won't be too bad! There are a few steep sections, but they are short lived and spaced out. Also, if you had 2 days, you could do half the hike each day. We definitely stopped in each town for a rest and a drink or a snack. You can take the train back to where you're staying, so you don't have to hike both ways.