If you missed it, last week we shared about Pisa. We stopped there on our way to Cinque Terre from Florence & loved it! Nothing compares to finally arriving in Cinque Terre though. Cinque Terre is a part of the Italian Riviera consisting of five towns carved into the rugged cliff sides & tumbling down into the sea. There is technically road access but it is quite treacherous & very narrow. The preferred method of travel is their local train that connects all five towns. La Spezia is the big hub, just inland from the Southern most town that connects them to the rest of Italy.
The city of La Spezia turned out to be a very crowded one. We attempted to park at the train station but it was full & not allowing any additional cars into the garage. That’s fine, we will just find another lot or street parking. Seems reasonable right? Nope! We covered every inch of that town and there was nothing! We ended back up at the garage and just sat at the entrance until another car came out and we were able to swoop in. Once that got settled, we headed to the tourist office where you can buy a pass & permit to visit the towns. Since 1997, Cinque Terre has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site & you must have a pass to walk their popular trails & paths. Never fear, this was the easiest part! The long line at the tourist office moved quickly & we were able to pick up a multiservice card for 12 Euros that gave us access to the trails and unlimited use of the local train. Trains left every 15-20 minutes so we hoped on the first one and headed to our first city, Riomaggiore.
The train was filled with all kinds of people. There were Italians who were headed to the coast for a beach day with bags full of sunscreen, towels, & snacks, there were tourists who were staying in Cinque Terre pulling big wheeled suitcases behind them, and there were the locals who had headed into La Spezia to hit the “big” shops & were loaded down with bags full of new clothes and groceries. It was a lot of fun to just people watch. Too soon the train zipped through a tunnel & stopped off in Riomaggiore. We exited to a point high above the main street & had to wind down the cobbled road passing brightly colored shops & restaurants brimming with servers bringing loaded plates of pasta & fish to anxious diners.
The street ended at the sea with a boat ramp filled with fading white and blue rowboats. We talked to a gentleman about heading up to see the rest of the towns by boat but ultimately were lured into staying a little longer in Riomaggiore by the sight of a gelato shop over looking the sea.
We picked out our gelato (honestly some of the best we had the whole trip) and found a spot perched on some rocks looking down at the crystal blue water. We tucked into several different flavors but the pear gelato was amazing! I was a little (a lot) sad when my cup was empty. I debated going back for more, but decided that there was too many trails to hike and towns to see!
There is a trail that connects the towns, but due to rainstorms & mudslides a few years ago, some of the paths are still unopened. We walked as much as possible so that we could see the coast, then hopped back on the train to see our next town!
Check back next week for more Cinque Terre stories!
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