Auckland, New Zealand
My partner and I want to visit the Cinque Terre region this summer however my partner is recovering from lower limb injuries are we are not confident we can walk the whole trail. Below are a few questions we have:
1 - how much time do you need to explore the 5 villages?
1 - what is the best town to base yourself in if you plan to base yourself in one and do day trips from there?
2 - Is it possible to take the train from one village to the next and then walk back? If this is possible we may consider staying in the middle village and taking the train/walking between the others.
I agree with Polly. I also stayed in Riomaggiore and LOVED it. It was my favorite town, but they are all lovely. Corniglia would be the most difficult due to the massive number of stairs. I did do the section to Vernazza. It is doable, but considering the leg injury might be really challenging. No matter where you stay, you will be climbing a lot of stairs though. The train was really easy and you can buy one way tickets, there are sometimes a bit of a wait for a train and they can be crowded. On the bright side though all of the train stations have beautiful views of the coast so even the wait can be nice. We stayed with a company called Riomaggiore Reservations and found them on Airbnb, and they were great! Cinque Terre was my favorite place in Italy, I hope you love it!
Hi Tracey! I don't know what will be open or closed next summer, but I hope I can give a little help regarding your other questions. (Trail updates can be found here.)
You can cover all of Cinque Terre in as little as a day. Three days would be plenty to actively explore the area. The towns, while separate, are very close to one another.
People will have different opinions on which town is the best to stay in. When I visited, I stayed in Riomaggiore, which is beautiful, with a steep main drag and a small and rocky beach. Manarola is similar to Monterosso and may be the most famous picture-postcard of the bunch. Corniglia is probably the least crowded, but also has the steepest streets and is high on a cliff with no beach access - wouldn't recommend staying here with any mobility issues. Vernazza has a sweet little plaza on its harbor and may have been my favorite, but has gotten pretty touristy from what I've heard. Monterosso al Mare, the largest town, is relatively flat and has a beach.
You can definitely take trains one way - they're cheap and the distance between villages is short, but you have to pay attention to the schedule, as trains only run every hour or so. The first section of trail, going south to north, is the easiest. It's a paved path that everyone can walk. The next section, from Manarola to Corniglia, is relatively easy till you come to the mountain of stairs that lead from the train station to the village. Corniglia to Vernazza is more challenging and rustic, with some gorgeous views. Vernazza to Monterosso is the part I skipped - it's supposed to be beautiful, but the longest and toughest section, with even more stairs.
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