My husband just got back from our trip to Cinque Terra. We enjoyed it very much and felt like you could really see how people lived in small villages in Italy. We stayed in Vernazza and enjoyed the town very much. The boat did not go to all of the villages while we were there for some reason. We managed to find parking outside of Vernazza. Right by the gate to the village we were charged about $14 dollars for two nights. We could have parked for free up the road but were told the police came and checked the cars at night and felt safer. I guess they don’t check past the paid area. The young guy taking our money said no car had ever been broken into, but who knew when it would occur. There was a red van that went up and down the hill into Vernazza-free-which we were happy to take with our suitcases. In the summer, I wouldn’t risk trying to find parking. I’d definitely park in La Spezia and take the train in. I also wouldn’t count on easily finding a room, even in October. We got into town about 4pm and were lucky to find a place.
We did enjoy Vernazza the most. We took the train to two towns, the boat to another, the trail to the last. I felt like two days was just right to see everything.
By the way, it takes 4 hours to drive from Vernazza, to La Spezia, and back to Nice. It is a boring drive with at least 30 tunnels to drive through. It’s much more charming to drive up the coast, but it will take a couple of days.
Tourists and all, it was great.