Cinque Terra has been on my Bucket List for a long time now. So, naturally, when my mom and step dad said they were coming to Italy and hiking Cinque Terra, we HAD to meet them! Plus, it had been seven months since I’ve seen them and some Mother Daughter time was long overdue!!
Michael and I started in Portovenere, which I highly recommend. It’s on the southern end, past the last towns in Cinque Terra.
We took a five-hour early train from Venice to La Spezia, and then another 30 minute bus ride to Portovenere. The drive was easy and you were immersed in the locals commute. Tip: You have to buy your bus tickets in a small tobacco shop on the way to the bus stop. Random, I know.
Once you’re settled, walk to the end of the main road by the water, up to the ruins of Doria Castle and swim in the back cove, Poet’s Grotto. This cove normally has very rough water, but we got lucky on our first day and it was calm, crystal clear. Tourists sunbath on the rocks that line the main road; there’s even a water polo court for those that want some extra exercise.
After you’ve had your fill of vitamin D, stroll back through the cute shopping street up the cobblestone road above the Main Street.
Once your sunset appetite is satiated, it’s time to dine. I suggest skipping dinner at Le Bocche and splurging at the Grand Hotel Portovenere. The food was much better, and there weren’t as many mosquitoes — Order the pesto – BEST EVER! Besides those two nice restaurants, the only dining options are pizza places.
Also, be sure to grab a gelato before you leave!
Getting around: There are ferries that run from Portovenere up the coast and drop off at each town in Cinque Terra, but unfortunately, the seas were too rough and we never had the opportunity to jump on a boat. If the weather gods are smiling on you, be sure to take advantage of this. I hear the views from the ocean are stunning.
- Stay at the Grand Hotel Portovenere again
- Rent a yacht and drive the coast – eat lunch/dinner on the deck (a girl can dream!)
- Take the ferry to the different towns. Easier and quicker than the train/bus
- Best pesto ever is at the Grand Hotel Portovenere with trofi pasta. You can even buy a jar from the pesto shop on the back market road in Portovenere – Do it!
- Best gelato ever in Portovenere – get the chocolate. You’ll die and go to heaven.
- Beautiful, charming seaside town, and if you’re lucky you’ll even have a view like this out of your bedroom window (hint: this is a hostel!)
- They light up the town at night and it kinda looks like “Who-ville” 🙂
- If the weather isn’t good, you can’t swim and you can’t take the ferry to the other towns. You’ll have to take the bus and train.
(Not so) Fun Fact:
- Travel is not always glamorous… Italy Train Strikes affected us in La Spezia while we were trying to get to Monterosso to meet my mom. Ugh, I’m so over strikes! First Argentina Airlines, then London tube, now Italy trains. What’s next? Taxi drivers?? It was honestly the worst train experience I’ve ever had. Normally, a 20 minute train ride from La Spezia to Monterosso took us two hours because the one train that came from Florence was severely over crowded. To the point where people were getting claustrophobic and having panic attacks, and the conductor asked everyone to move to the middle because the train was lopsided. But on a positive note, some busted out their harmonica and started playing songs with everyone singing along so that helped a little 🙂