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Siena to Cinque Terre

We are a party of 5 (ages 40 to 70) all in good health spending 2 weeks in Italy for the first time.  3 nigths in Rome, 6 nights in Siena and 3 in Venice. From Siena we would like to take a trip to Cinque Terre.  After reading I am undecided how the best way to do that. I realize it would be a long journey from Florence to CT on a tour but it is a place that really looks interesting and fun. Is there any other options to achieve this ? We don't want to rent a car. 

8 Answers

answered by
Steve from Southampton

Hi Jane

I did 5 nights in Cinque Terre last June and it was lovely. At that time only the path from Monterosso - Cinque Terre to Vernazza was officially open though I also did Vernazza to Corniglia as everybody else was. At the moment it appears that the paths from Corniglia to Manarola then on to Riomaggiore are still closed. I based myself in La Spezia and used the ferry and train to travel round. Portovenere is a lovely place to visit from here and you can tie it in with a walk around the island of Palmaria, which I finished off with a lovely. jasmine-scented, meal overlooking the harbour Monterosso looked a good place to stay as it has a sandy beach, plenty of restaurants and good transport connections.

In June I'm doing a train journey from Pisa to the Amalfi coast. I'll be staying 6 nights in Florence from where I'll do daytrips by coach to Siena, Lucca and San Gimignano as they're all within 1½ hours . I'd initially planned to stop for a night in Siena en-route to Rome but it's a more convoluted trip than direct from Florence, which is only 1½ hours direct. I've just booked my ticket, €19 - 2nd class. The quickest trains from Florence to Cinque Terre involve changing at Pisa so you could throw in a visit to the Leaning Tower if you fancy

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Monterosso - Cinque Terre (attraction)
  2. Vernazza (city)
  3. Corniglia (attraction)
  4. Manarola (attraction)
  5. Riomaggiore (city)
  6. La Spezia (city)
  7. Portovenere (city)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by

Jane, train travel in Italy is cheap, convenient and simple enough to do with kids, as well as relaxing and allows for taking in more of the passing scenery. You can check the daily train schedules to the Cinque Terre while in Siena and then plan from there. The most touristy Cinque Terre villages are Monterosso - Cinque TerreVernazza and Manarola (but all very well worth the visit!), and Corniglia has the best viewpoint overlooking the Mediterranean. Riomaggiore is the sleepiest of the five and Monterosso has by far the best beach. My favorite guidebook for Italy is Rick Steves. And great choices you've made to see Rome, Siena & Venice! It's such an amazing country you'll want to return.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Monterosso - Cinque Terre (attraction)
  2. Vernazza (city)
  3. Manarola (attraction)
  4. Riomaggiore (city)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Paul from Dublin


I think you have the balance wrong. If you were to stay anywhere for 6 nights then it should be Rome. Even then you will only be able to scratch the surface of one of the world's great cities.

6 nights in Siena is way too long IMHO. One or two nights is plenty. You'd be far better off spending a couple of nights in the Cinque Terre rather than trying to visit it from Siena.

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Sandy from Memphis, Tennessee

We've stayed in ck while driving a car and took trains to the villages by day! It was great! Parked at our hotel

answered by
Sandy from Memphis, Tennessee

Get organized and you can do rome In 3 days, not counting arrival! Been their many times but huge city with many visitors. Ct is awesome but don't go anywhere. In italy in summer. It is very crowded! We are 70 and rent a car and go everywhere. Just in rome and ck last (early) sept. After enjoying Ryder cup in Scotland. You'll love it and great food! Have fun and good luck

comments (1)

answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

Hi Jane,

The train is definitely the way to go.  I would spend at 4 nights in Rome, which gives you three full days to see the basics.  I would recommend taking the train from Rome to Cinque Terre, which will take about 4 hours.  If you want, you can stop for a couple hours in Pisa on the way to see the Piazza Dei Miracoli, including the Cathedral, the tower, and the Baptistry.Although it's a popular tourist destination, I found the Piazza very worthwhile. Stay in one of the Cinque Terre villages for 3 nights.  Consider one full day to take the train to Rapallo and Camogli, take the ferry Camogli to San Fruttuoso, Portofino, and Santa Margherita Ligure, and then back on the train. The other full day you can explore the five villages.  Hopefully, you can plan the trip so you aren't in Cinque Terre on a weekend, when it is much more crowded. From Cinque Terre, take the train to Florence for three nights.  You can take a train for a day trip to Siena, which would allow you to see the Cathedral and major sights, have lunch, and have a drink on the Piazza del Campo, before asking the waiter to call you a taxi to take you back to the station.  You'll have the other full day in Florence to see the dizzying display of art and enjoy the food.  Take the train to Venice and spend the remaining 2 nights there.  If you can extend your trip another couple nights, spend one of them in Rome and the other in Venice.  Have a great trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rome (city)
  2. Cinque Terre (region)
  3. Pisa (attraction)
  4. Piazza Dei Miracoli (attraction)
  5. Rapallo (city)
  6. Camogli (city)
  7. San Fruttuoso (attraction)
  8. Portofino (attraction)
  9. Santa Margherita Ligure (city)
  10. Florence (city)
  11. Siena (attraction)
  12. Piazza del Campo (attraction)
  13. Venice (city)
comments (2)

answered by
Maria from Dublin

Hi Jane,

The first thing that struck me about your question is the length of time you will be spending in Siena. It's such a beautiful city (and one of my favourite Italian places) but 6 nights is a lot!  Siena is quite a compact, walkable city but, unless you plan to rent a car or take day trips from there, you might be bored after a couple of days. The great thing about travel in Italy though is you don't really need a car, I always travel by train whenever I can and rail travel is cheap and efficient. The journey from Siena to La Spezia takes about 3 hours with a connection in Empoli or Pisa You can travel from there in a few minutes to any of the Cinque Terre towns. Take a look at and If you are fit and have a full day free, walk between the 5 little towns, stopping for lunch in one and dinner in another.

We stayed near Santa Margherita Ligure and travelled around the whole area (by train) from there. Portofino is worth an afternoon and is only 15 minutes by ferry from Santa Margherita (a fab place to go for lunch on the quayside) To make the most of the area I recommend at least 2-3 days there. Have a great time.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Siena (attraction)
  2. La Spezia (city)
  3. Empoli (city)
  4. Pisa (city)
  5. Cinque Terre (restaurant)
  6. Santa Margherita Ligure (city)
  7. Portofino (attraction)
comments (3)

answered first by
Sean from Hudson Valley

Hello Jane,

In truth, you already know the best way to do it.  Believe me, the last thing you want to do is rent a car if you're visiting the Cinque Terre.

Aside from the cost and hassle of renting a car, there are a plethora of scams in Italia which involve cars.  The one that is getting the most press of late is that of the "highway pirates".  These creeps puncture your tires, then follow you until they go flat.  They pull over to "help you", and rip you off in the process.

In addition, the towns of the Cinque Terre are traffic free.  That is, you can't bring a car into town.  You'll need to park blocks away from wherever you're staying.  Sorry, I'm just not comfortable doing that.

Finally, there no need for a car in the Cinque Terre.  Part of the joy of the Cinque Terre is walking from town to town along the path that hugs the sea.  It's beautiful, and easily navigated.  When it get's late, or you're just tired, the towns are linked together by train service.  Supposedly, the trains in Italy are never on schedule, but that hasn't been my experience.  In the course of my professional career I've commuted by train in several US cities, and have had far worse experiences, on a more constant basis.

The train is the way to go in terms of getting there too.  There are usually eight or more trains between Siena to Riomaggiore (first stop in the Cinque Terre) daily.  Train service from one town to the other takes just under four hours.  However, it does require at least two train changes; usually in Empoli and La Spezia.  The ticket price shouldn't be more than thirty dollars, US.

Yeah, the train is the way to go, getting there, and once you're there too.

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