Visiting Cinque Terre and Florence

Visiting Cinque Terre

While staying in Lucca we went on several day trips. We went by car to Montecarlo and San Gimignano and by train to Cinque Terre and Florence. We went by bike to Lucca train station  (mere 5 minutes ride). We parked our bikes at the “bike parking lot”  located on the left hand site of the train station.

We went by train to Cinque Terre as this is the only transportation mode to get there!  No cars are allowed on most of the villages. It is very easy to go by train from Lucca to Cinque Terre.

Just check the train timetable on the internet. When you buy the ticket it will be for the whole trip, although it’s necessary to change trains during the journey.

Our  first stop was at La Spezia, from where we changed to the regional train to Riomaggiore. The trip La Spezia-Riomaggiore lasts about 10 Minutes and covers a distance of 12 Km. We found it  interesting that the sea is not seen during almost the entire journey. Then…. just minutes before arriving at Riomaggiore the train enters in a tunnel and when it gets out there is  marvelous  turquoise green sea outside! EVERYONE on the train shouts “AHHH!!!…… OHHHH!!!…. WOW!!!!…   It’s amazing! The views are really astonishing. Cinque Terre-2 Cinque Terre-1 The train to Riomaggiore was very crowded .  Many tourists from all over the world and many local people too.

Cinque Terre-3

After  disembarking from the train  we went downstairs and got inside a pedestrian tunnel. Everything really crowded (and a little claustrophobic I must say).

 Just watch your bag or backpack, also  watch your back and….  you will be fine!  🙂

Cinque Terre-4 Riomaggiore: Crowded stairs  and claustrophobic pedestrian tunnel after disembarking from the train

Cinque Terre-5 After this “claustrophobic arrival”   you will be rewarded by the scenery!

Cinque Terre-6

Cinque Terre-7

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Riomaggiore is one of the places that can’t be missed while visiting Italy!  The views are astonishing and wherever we look we get wonderful views to the sea!

Cinque Terre-9 Cinque Terre-8

We walked along the narrow passages that go through the houses. Steep stairs passing almost inside the houses. Most of the inhabitants leave their doors open, we could  feel different food smells while walking there. All of them were delicious! 🙂

Cinque Terre-13

Cinque Terre-14

 After walking around this lovely fishing village we went to “Via dell’ Amore” , a nice path along the sea that goes from Riomaggiore to Manarola

Cinque Terre-15

 This is the path called “Via dell’Amore”   (Love Road).     It is simply…..MAGICAL !!!!

Don’t miss that!  Go to Via dell’Amore and you will have one of the best travel experiences of a  life time!

Cinque Terre-21

Of course we did the same as everyone else and drew a heart with our initials on the wall! CF and FC 2011

Cinque Terre-22Love is in the air…

When we were almost arriving in Manarola  we found this  “lover bench” .

There are thousands of lockers along the path!  Legend says that if you hang a locker with your love’s name there, he (she)  will be “locked”   with  you forever!

There are pretty interesting lockers, many of them in the form of a heart.  It is inspiring to see how many people are in love around the world (yep,  you will see names coming from all languages / nationalities). I am not exaggerating: I had never seen as many lockers as I saw in  Via dell’Amore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre-25

 Here, we are arriving in Manarola.

Cinque Terre-26

There are natural pools along the way and many people swimming and getting beautiful tan while laying on the rocks.

Cinque Terre-30

 Manarola is smaller than Riomaggiore but not less pretty! Both villages are awesome and offer great opportunities for sightseeing!

Cinque Terre-31

From Manarola we intended to go by foot to the next village (Corniglia)  but due to a landslide occurred few weeks before, the path was closed. You may see the landslide on the picture above.

Accordingly to my readings,  the best attraction in Corniglia is the path linking the village to Manarola, as it goes along the sea. Corniglia is located high up on a hill without many attractions, except for the closed path.   Due to this fact, we decided to skip Corniglia and took the train directly to Monterroso.

Cinque Terre-32Once more…  a crowded  train station waiting for the train to Monterosso.  Although traveling in sardine-style, the trip deserves each minute of the waiting to get into the already crowded train!

Cinque Terre-33

Monterosso is the largest village of Cinque Terre and the main difference between Monterosso and the other villages is that cars are allowed there!

So,  if you can’t live without a car and you want to visit  Cinque Terre, I suggest you go to Monterosso, although in my opinion  you should visit the other villages,  specially Riomaggiore, Manarola and the Via dell’Amore.

As soon as we arrived at Monterosso we looked for a place to eat.  We were starving and just looking for the options…. well…. we were dizzy!  There are many restaurants, almost all of them located  in front of the beach.   It was tough to choose one, almost all of them looked great!

 Cinque Terre-36

We had lunch at a Restaurant called Sacro Estilo, located along the beach. We ate outside but they have a huge seating area inside as well.  The decor was modern and the food was fantastic.

As soon as we finished our delicious lunch we went directly to the beach!  I know  this is not “highly recommended”  (swim after eating)  but we could not avoid the warm and transparent Monterosso waters.

Cinque Terre-40

 The beach was crowded and we had to search a lot in order to find an empty space to stay under the sun! It is tough to walk  because there is no sand, it’s a pebble beach. We didn’t have our beach shoes with us, so entering in the water was a difficult task as we are not used to walk on pebbles.

After spending the whole day in Cinque Terre and a couple of hours in this lovely beach,  we  returned to our “base”.   We went to the train station and started our journey back to the walled city of Lucca.

If you want to see our pictures from Cinque Terre, visit our page on Flickr !

Visiting Florence

We went by train from Lucca.  It is cheap and the train is comfortable.

The only “problem”   was that, unlike the other day trips we went, in this one we didn’t feel “safe”  at all. We were on the second floor of the passenger car and as soon as the train departed some guys with strange faces and habits went to the same passenger car where we were.

We were the only people there, so they sat in different benches and started talking in an African dialect between them.   They kept talking and looking to us.   It was SCARING.

They travel in the Italian train without paying for a ticket, so, when the officer who checks for the tickets came, they manage to walk fast  in the opposite direction and went out of our wagon. As soon as the conductor went away  some of the guys reappeared, like magic.   We were scared and only few minutes inside that train looked like an eternity.

The train entered inside a dark tunnel and I whispered to my husband: “Now it will be the moment, they will show us a knife or a gun and they will take all our money and all our documents” .

We almost didn’t breath, just anticipating the exact moment they would ask  for our belongings.  We felt like two birds inside a cage  with five or six hungry cats walking around. Fortunately, the tunnel ended and nothing happened although they kept staring at us.

The train stopped at a train station and we used this opportunity to go down the stairs,  as if we were going to disembark. Now, on the first floor, we walked along the train, changing wagons,  till we found a wagon that had some tourists (most of them Japanese) .

We took a seat and felt much better and safer to continue the journey having other tourists around us. If you are traveling in an Italian train, don’t stay “alone”  in a passenger car.   Find a place where there are other tourists around you.

Avoid the second floor. Usually I like the second floor on  the trains to have better views, but in this case,  I noticed that very few people go to the second floor.  Probably the thugs prefer to stay on the second floor to easily find and rob their targets? I guess they are illegal immigrants coming from Africa and they want cash, passports and whatever they can find in our purse / pockets.

In my opinion, Trenitalia should employ   more conductors to keep an eye on passengers.  Tourists would feel safer. After this “adrenaline trip”  (we sweat more than when we were on the roller coasters in Florida)  we were happy to arrive in Florence all in one piece and with all our belongings. Florence……. wow…….. what can I say?

Many people will be upset with me but I must admit we didn’t enjoy  it at all.

The city was like a Circus.  Thousands of tourists  on the streets.   Everything was  crowded, packed with people.

The line for visiting the Duomo, as an example, was enormous and the waiting time to get inside would be around three hours.   No way I would stand three hours to visit a Church! There are many beautiful churches in Europe where all I have to do to in order to visit is… walk-in!

Besides, we had already been to Duomo’s interior during previous trips to Florence.

Florence-5 The weather in Florence  was unpleasantly HOT.  Really, really HOT.  There were  beggars and gypsies.

We had been to Florence before,  and the monuments and attractions were not a surprise for us. Florence-7 We had lunch in a place that was “ok”  and much more expensive than we were used to pay in Lucca.    Ahhh…. touristy traps….

This was the warmest day of our European trip. The air was so heavy that it was difficult to breath.

If I can give an advice, I would say that Florence should be avoided during the holidays season.  I recommend going on a  “shoulder”  season, probably between March and April  or between late October to November.

In my opinion, August in Florence is like a nightmare that should be avoided. Go in another time, and you probably will enjoy the city.

Florence-13

This is art!  There are many street artists painting on the asphalt!

They use  crayons and reproduce famous paintings, like  “Girl with a pearl earring”   from Johannes Vermeer.  It is perfect.  It is amazing to stop and watch the guy working fast on his art work.

When stopping near the crowds to watch something like this street artist, keep AN EYE on your belongings!  Usually pickpockets mix with the public only waiting for a distracted tourist!

Florence-14

If the day was cooler and if there were not so many tourists, I guess we would have enjoyed Florence…

Florence-15

 Wow!  Here I am!  Really happy to be inside the air conditioned train on our way back to Lucca!

The Italian trains are “quite comfortable”. Of course they can’t  be compared to the Swiss trains,  but the few  trains we got while staying in Tuscany were clean and ran on time.

In Lucca, in “our” building, going out for pizza. By bike, of course...  :)

In Lucca, in “our” building, going out for pizza. By bike, of course… 🙂

 As soon as we arrived in Lucca we got our bikes and went out to find a Pizzeria.  The weather in Lucca was much more pleasant.

Advertisements

About CeciliArchitect

World Traveler ~ Photographer ~ Social Media Specialist ~ Tourism Vancouver Certified Specialist ~ Independent Tour Manager and Events Coordinator ~ Blogger ~ Architect & Interior Designer (in my previous life)
This entry was posted in Blog, Cinque Terre, Europe, Italy, La Spezia, Lucca, Manarola, Monterroso, Riomaggiore, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Visiting Cinque Terre and Florence

  1. Cindy says:

    My fiancee and I are going to stay in Riomaggiore this June. I really appreciated the detail in your post because I am quite claustrophic and the photos of the train station/pedestrian tunnel were so helpful. How long is the tunnel and is it entirely covered the whole time? I am generally OK as long as I can estimate how long it will take me to get through them. Also, there is a pedestrian tunnel in Manarola as well, right? I hate that my worry about this might take away from our trip 😦 Just trying to get info so I can prepare myself. Thanks very much!

    Like

    • Hello Cindy!

      Thanks for visiting my Blog! 🙂

      Do not worry!!! You will be totally fine there!

      The tunnels are pretty short, just like a regular pedestrian passage under a major road.

      I’m claustrophobic too and I did it pretty well! It’s short and after crossing it you will have AMAZING views of the buildings, mountains and ocean. 🙂

      Just remember to carry your money / documents on a purse or backpack on your front (instead of hanging on your back).
      As you know, crowded places can be a magnet for pickpockets. Do the same with your wallet (keep it in your front pocket).

      You will have a great time there. It’s really really beautiful.

      Happy travels!

      Cecilia

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s