Cinque Terre: A Bucket List Letdown

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A recent conversation I had with a buddy revealed that he had some unscheduled time off coming up, and the two of us decided that we should take advantage of it together. We deliberated about how and where to spend them to get the most value out of them. Because he dislikes going to the same place more than once, he rejected all of my suggestions, including Athens, Tanzania, and Crete.

At long last, I recalled a prior discussion that the two of us had had. Even though we’ve both been to Italy previously, neither of us had ever been to Cinque Terre, which consists of five iconic Italian towns that are linked to one another.

When most people in the United States think of Italy, we see the iconic photograph of Cinque Terre. I can’t say for certain how people feel elsewhere in the globe.

We look down and see the water crashing against the rocks below the colorful buildings that are perched on the edge of the cliff. In most cases, the photograph is shot just before sunset. Gorgeous. Classic.

But did we find things to be like this when we went there? Both yes and no

Yes, it is lovely, and I even managed to take the picture of an iconic landmark that I had hoped for:

In addition to that, I was able to take an updated version of the original shot that I posted on Instagram, which is as follows:

The opportunity to check #cinqueterre off the bucket list has finally presented itself, and to be quite honest, it’s not that memorable. A bit lackluster. Beautiful? Yes. Are there a lot of tourists here? For sure. Expensive? Definitely. I’m glad I had the chance to go, but it was my only experience with it.

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But isn’t there somewhere else in Italy that takes the cake for beauty? If you ask me, I’d answer sure.

However, what is obscured from view in that photograph is the fact that Cinque Terre is teeming with visitors. Because there are always so many people using their selfie sticks, it’s almost impossible to snap a good picture of anything. And even though it was October, we went at the busiest time of the year.

And yes, I am well conscious of the fact that I am one of those visitors and, thus, a contributor to the issue.

On the other hand, the location was so packed that it was no longer pleasant to be there. We were crammed inside the train, and then we were released like livestock being let out of their enclosure.

There were significant wait times at several of the city’s finest dining establishments. As long as we’re discussing the eateries, I may as well say something about the food: it wasn’t all that impressive. It appeared like more of an effort had been made to cater to visitors in the eateries. The foods we tasted, despite their aesthetic appeal, were subpar imitations of authentic Italian cuisine. The lunches that were similar to the ones we had in Pisa and Florence could not be found elsewhere.

When we moved out from the central part of the location, we were able to locate a few beautiful and secluded areas. Thankfully, there were no visitors to be seen in this little passageway.

Frustrated and discouraged, we turned our attention to one of the few things in life that is consistent at all times. My good buddy took this picture of me without my knowledge. I believe it beautifully sums up our Cinque Terre experience:

Would I, in the end, recommend staying away from it? No, it truly is lovely, and a trip there would be well worth your time. When you are organizing the vacation, though, I think it’s important that you keep your expectations in check. A visit to Cinque Terre might be accomplished in a single day from Pisa. It is also feasible to visit Cinque Terre as a day excursion from Florence; however, this would be a very long day and necessitate changing trains a few times along the way.

In spite of this, I would not recommend going to Italy for the sole purpose of seeing Cinque Terre, as was originally my intention. I’m happy that we decided to combine our visits to Florence and Pisa into one vacation itinerary.

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Practical Information:

Getting there:

You will want to get an early start from Florence since the journey duration is between two and a half and three hours each way. From Florence, you may get started. It’s probable that you won’t have time to see all five of the villages in a single day. Leave Florence and go to Pisa, where you will make a train change and continue on to La Spezia. When you arrive in La Spezia, you will make a connection to a regional train that will take you the rest of the way to Cinque Terre. The timetables for the trains may be found here.

From Pisa, it is feasible to take a day excursion to each of the five villages, and visit them all in one day. I would suggest beginning at the village that is the furthest to the north, which is Monterosso, and working your way back towards Pisa until you reach the one that is the farthest to the south (Riomaggiore). Multiple trains leave from Pisa to La Spezia daily. The journey should take around an hour and a half to complete. Simply clicking on this link will allow you to see the schedule for up to seven days in advance.

Make it a habit to verify your tickets every time before the train leaves the station.