I was excited to go to Cinque Terre. I had seen the picturesque Italian towns on plenty of travel shows and blogs and was hoping to hike from town to town. We arrived in La Spezia and used it as our home base for 4 days. Riomaggiore is the closest of the 5 towns and is about a a 10 minute ride from La Spezia. We decided to buy a 2 day pass and hike between the towns, starting in Monterosso (the furthest from La Spezia) and then make our way back toward our hotel. Our original plan was to do Monterosso to Vernazza to Corniglia on day 1 and then do Corniglia to Manarola to Riomaggiore on day 2. Unfortunately our day 2 plan was cancelled when we found out that mudslides had destroyed some of the roads and the trails were closed.
We caught the train to Monterosso. Monterosso was swamped with people. We spent a little time walking around. It appeared to have the best beaches of the 5 towns. We set of on the 2 hour hike to Vernazza. The hike was rocky in some parts but definitely manageable as there was no shortage of people attempting it. The worst part was the 35 degree (95 Fahrenheit) heat and the trail offered very little shade.
The beaches of Monterosso.
We made it to Vernazza and were able to take a couple of pictures as we descended to the town. We were exhausted from the heat and choose gelato and both quickly agreed to a train ride home.
Vernazzo from above.
On day 2 we started in Corniglia. We weren't overly impressed with Corniglia. It is on the water and involved a hike up to the town. We then caught the train to Manarola and ate lunch in the town and took a quick dip in the water. We finished swimming and made our way to Riomaggiore.
The number of tourists visiting Cinque Terre is unbelievable. The trains were scheduled to come every 10 minutes or so. We waited over 40 mins on a train platform wedged between people in the hot sun as train staff shouted that pickpockets were on the platform while we waited for trains that were delayed because there were too many people on them. The tiny towns were slammed with people. We are both not fond of large crowds of people and this was the worst we experienced. Obviously we were part of the problem, so if you plan on heading here, consider yourself warned. In the end, I wasn't overly impressed with the towns. I admit they were beautiful but the definitely weren't worth the hype. I'll stop short of saying "Don't go" because it was nice to see them but I would say if you have limited time for travel, in my opinion there are better places to visit.