Pisa Centrale to Monterosso (Cinque Terre)
(1 Transfer at La Spezia)
Travel Time: 1h 19min
Total: €27,80 (for 2 people)
Total per person: €13,90
Sam and I took the 8am train to Monterosso for our day trip to the amazing Cinque Terre. Known as the “Five Lands”, Cinque Terre comprises of five connecting coastal towns and is located in the Liguria region of Italy. The name of the five towns are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore (in the order of farthest to closest). We started out in Monterosso to do the hiking trail to Vernazza.
Cinque Terre Card (Walking Pass)
1 Day: €7,50
2 Days: €14,50
We bought the Cinque Terre Card at the small kiosk located at the beginning of the hike (cost €5 in 2015). They have two options: Walking Pass and Walking Pass + Train. If you want to use the train to get between the villages then it might be worth paying a little more for the train pass (€13 for a single day) and it’s especially useful if you are staying overnight in Cinque Terre and get the two-day pass (€23) which also allows you to hike an additional day. It’s best to purchase the card as far in advance as you can since they have been restricting the number of visitors daily to preserve the towns. In addition, a lot of the hiking trails are closed due to landslides – I had wanted to do the Via dell’Amore trail (it goes from Manarola to Riomaggiore) because it has the infamous “Locks of Love” where people put locks on a fence, similar to how they do it in Paris. But that path was unfortunately closed and it is unclear when it would reopen if it will ever.
Monterosso-Vernazza Hiking Trail: Open
Hiking Time: 2h
Vernazza-Corniglia Hiking Trail: Open
Hiking Time: 1h 30min
All other trails: CLOSED
Fortunately, the Monterosso- Vernazza trail has a mini “Locks of Love” so all is not lost! The trail was pretty intense in the beginning from all the stairs and it is the longest out of all the hiking trails, but the views are probably the most rewarding. As soon as we reached Vernazza, we hit our mandatory 10K steps and got some gelato as our reward. One important recommendation is that if you are planning on hiking, it should be done earlier in the morning as there are far fewer people and the temperature is much cooler.
Cinque Terre is known for pesto and Ligurian wine and they’re pretty cheap
Cinque Terre is famous for their pesto so our first meal was polpo and pasta with pesto! We went to one of the restaurants by the water and boats and it was so delicious that I dragged Sam to one of the shops in the village to buy their pasta and some pesto! What was really interesting was that there were so many types of Pesto! I ended up purchasing the traditional pesto verde, pesto bianco, and pesto rosso. Pesto bianco is made with artichokes and pesto rosso is made with red peppers. After lunch, we ended up taking our own water taxi (instead of the ferry) to Manarola since it wasn’t too expensive.
Private Water Taxi: €35
It was totally worth the money and way more convenient than taking the local train or the ferry! Manorala is one of the more famous towns with its pastel houses located on top of the cliffs. It has a swimming area at the entrance by a cluster of big rocks. We actually ended up buying a bottle of white wine (Liguria is famous for their wine) after exploring Manarola and drank the wine on one of those big rocks by the water. Since we went in the autumn, the water was a little chilly but I still managed to at least put my feet in the water before we took the local train back to Monterosso. We did stop by Corniglia but we didn’t manage to roam the town as there is a half-mile walk from the train platform to the actual town.
DID YOU KNOW?:
Monterosso is the only village with an actual beach
By the time we got back to Monterosso, the sun was starting to set so we got more gelato and ate it at the beach watching the pink and purple hues of the sky. Sam managed to get a few amazing shots of me romping around the water with the sunset behind me! The best part about the trip was that I had never gone skinny-dipping before in my life and Sam said that if we drank some more wine and were drunk enough (since the water was pretty cold), we could skinny-dip in the ocean! So for dinner, we ordered another litre of wine with our acciughe (anchovies) and went to the beach to go skinny-dipping! I have to say, it was definitely one of the most memorable moments of this entire trip! Afterwards, we had to head back to Pisa. Unfortunately, we ended up missing the last train back and I was panicking a bit to figure out what to do, especially since there were these two drunk men arguing and fighting with a dog just aggressively barking at them. Thankfully, there was a really kind Italian man who was trying to help us figure out our train situation and convinced the conductor on the sleeper train to Pisa Centrale that it was too dangerous for us to stay at the station. The conductor eventually allowed us onto the carriage and had us sit by the steps, since we didn’t purchase any tickets for the sleeper train and the rooms were all booked. They made a stop in Pisa Centrale just for us and we finally managed to get back to our Airbnb.