Experience Cinque Terre

Hike the less-traveled trails, experience the sea, enjoy meals of locally caught and grown food and wines  of  Cinque Terre.   Share the culture of this unique part of Italy, with charming and fun locals whose families have lived there for generations.

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Information about Cinque Terre

Hiking in Cinque Terre is a terrific way to see and experience the area, and connect with its history.  There are levels of difficulty to suit everyone, from the seasoned hiker who can choose routes that are longer and/or more difficult, to the "lazy hiker" who can choose to bypass the trails and go by train and ferry among the villages!  I can vouch for the fact that a 65 year old woman who is a walker but not necessarily a hiker, successfully hiked from Riomaggiore to Vernazza as a single day hike. 

Accommodations in Cinque Terre
Accommodation in Cinque Terre runs the gamut from small hotels (only in Monterosso al Mare) to pensione (such as Pensione Sorriso in Vernazza), rooms and apartment rentals in Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.  For the most part, people stay in a room with its own entrance that was, at some point in time, part of someone's home.  Breakfast is usually not included, but is easy anyway.  In most cases, it is closer to walk to the cafe for coffee and breakfast than it is in some large hotels in a big city.  And it is more fun!

The Food
Cinque Terre, and all of Liguria, is famous for pesto.  To be really authentic, have trofie (a local pasta) with pesto.  But the one food that is probably more dear to the hearts of the locals is acciugghe, or anchovies.  These anchovies do not resemble anchovies that most people know and either love or hate.  They are a small and delicate white fish, and are always fresh, fresh, fresh.  They are served salate (salted), al limone (with lemon and a bit of olive oil) and fritte (fried.)  Even people who think they hate anchovies have found that they like them here in Cinque Terre.As in all regions of Italy, the emphasis is on fresh and seasonal.  While hiking through the vineyards and the small farmed lots of land on the hillsides, it is fun to realize that almost everything that will be served to you at dinner may have come from within sight of you at some moment of your hike

Eating and dining
Cinque Terre offers many different options for eating.  There are the small stores where food for dining al fresco, picnics, can be purchased - bread, beverages, fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, spreads, olives, etc.!  Or within a couple of doors from the "general" store, there will be a panificio where breads and pastries can be bought, or a focacceria to buy some of the freshly made focaccia.  Of course, one can eat a pizzeria, an osteria, a trattoria or a ristorante.  And don't forget the gelateria for dessert or a snack on a hot day. For breakfast, a typical Italian would have coffee, either espresso or cappuccino, and some form of bread or pastry.  Some may also eat fruit and some may substitute hot milk for the coffee. There are restaurants that offer the larger breakfast, which are known as American or British, and then there is the German breakfast which would include cold cuts such as salami and ham, and various cheeses.

The Wine
The wine of Cinque Terre is primarily a white wine and made from the grapes of the vineyards along the slopes of the mountains of Cinque Terre.  It can be purchased by the bottle at the enoteca in each village or in a restaurant with your meal.  For dinner or lunch in a restaurant, the wine ordered by the carafe (un litro, un mezzo o un quarto - a liter, a half a liter or a quarter of a liter) will be wine that has been made locally and then purchased directly from the winemarker by the restaurant.  It is always good!The LanguageYes, the language is Italian!  But the locals also speak a dialect.  So if you speak Italian, don't be upset if you can't understand the locals when they are speaking to each other.  It may even be a way to identify who is a local and who is a visitor.

Coperto - Yes, there will a coperto added to your bill if you sit down.  It will generally be from 1-3 Euros, per person.    I have seen people basically decrease the pleasure of the meal, trying to avoid the coperto by not eating the meal or by arguing about the justification of the coperto at the end of the meal. This is a cover charge, and it will be there if you do or don't eat the bread.  Some people perceive it as unfair, but considering that no tip is expected, it is a very good deal.  Accept it as part of the cost of the meal and enjoy yourself!

 - is not expected, but if you wish, you may leave the loose change, or if you felt you received superior service, the local amount is up to 5% extra.  Receiving the bill - You are welcome to sit and enjoy yourself for as long as you want.  The waiter (cameriere) will not bring you the bill until you indicate that you are ready for it. 

Cinque Terre is a casual place.  Other than appropriate footwear and clothing when hiking, wear whatever is comfortable and suitable for the weather.  In the hot days of summer, this is usually loose clothing and sandals.  And for the record, the Italian women wear bikinis/2 piece bathing suits and the men wear speedos.

Getting there
The best way to arrive in Cinque Terre is by train.  It is the easiest, most convenient and cheapest method of transportation.  The train stations are all centrally located in each town.  To find train times and routes, visit www.trenitalia.com which takes you to http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/.  Click on the English version.  Note the routes and where you must change trains.  Also, note whether it is a regional train or an Intercity (IC) train as the tickets are different. 
Always remember to validate your ticket at the yellow stamp machine located somewhere on the platform (usually at the top of the stairs), and if you forget, to mention it to a conductor BEFORE they ask to see your ticket!  The closest airports are Milan (Milano), Genoa (Genova), and Pisa. From Pisa, there is a train from the airport to Pisa Centrale from where you can take a train to any of the towns of Cinque Terre, usually by transferring in La Spezia.  For Milan, the train leaves from Milano Centrale, and there is a bus that goes from the airport to Centrale.  For Genoa, check the train schedule to see from which train station the train to the particular town in Cinque Terre departs.  Taking a taxi from the airport to a train station is a good option as it is not far or long.Only Monterosso allows cars in part of the town.  The other towns have parking lots outside of the towns, then you have to actually get into town with your luggage. 
For more information and photos, please go to blog (button upper left) and also to the photos tab.

WANTED:  your questions, comments, input, and ideas about Cinque Terre and this website.  Please send to chris@experiencecinqueterre.com! 
I look forward to hearing from you!

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