Our family of four just returned from Christmas hiking the Cinque Terre trails. For several days the weather was around 20 C under a bright hot sun!
The towns were all nearly empty of tourists – I couldn’t imagine a better time to visit (O.K. so it also rained, but not that much). Officially, all Cinque Terre trails are closed until further notice by the provincial government. Along with closure notices, all trails have barriers at each entrance and exit. This is a power play by the provincial government to extract maintenance monies from the local towns. (“pay up” or lose your tourist dollars). Following what seems like the cultural norm, we ignored the rules and squeezed around the barriers (some of which had already been smashed down) and past the closure signs. We had a wonderful walk on all trails except the Via dell’ Amore (which was too securely closed with iron bars and barbed wire). The trails are damaged in many places but only cosmetically – they are all considerably safer than walking the sidewalks of Rome.
Taking the advice of Mr. Steves, we ‘just showed up’ at the Vernazza train station in the evening without any reservations or idea of a place to stay. We were met by the owner of FrancaMaria rooms (Mr. Dimartino) who intercepted us and led us to a very nice 4 bed private apartment overlooking the harbor and central square (L 40,000 per person per night, cash only).
The town is everything I’ve heard it is! The only problem I can see is that it’s very small and could be quickly overwhelmed with tourists. Town folk are quite friendly, but I could see some concerns about tourism becoming too much of a good thing.
San Francisco, CA
Editor’s Note: The trails are open again (with the exception of the Via dell’amore)