My husband and I, in our late forties, did our first overseas trip in October 1999. We had three weeks in Italy, had it planned where we were going, and some places booked. When we first mentioned the Cinque Terre here in Australia, most travel agents had never heard of it. Since we have been, travel shows on the TV have featured the Cinque Terre and it seems to be the “in place” to go now. I’m so glad we visited when we did before too many tourists descended upon it.
We went in October, good weather, and probably not as many tourists as other times of the year. We stayed in La Spezia, and caught the train to Riomaggiore. We walked the trail right through to Monterosso. When we started out we though it was so easy. By the time we walked the last two villages we changed out minds. The trail started off very wide, with metal railings. We ended up with a trail so narrow at some places, that you had to literally push yourself against the cliff side to let some one else pass. The railing become a narrow bit of wire, then to nothing. There were a few small rock slides along the pathway, but we easily got around them at the time. In parts the walk was quite strenuous, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
There were very few people on the trail, but in some of the villages there were quite a few tourists, but not huge crowds. What a wonderful way to spend a day in Italy and see the beautiful scenery. A lot of the time on the walking trail we were totally alone, it was absolutely wonderful. You can catch the train and visit each village that way, but it wouldn’t compare to walking the villages. The views of the villages to the distance and also when they first come into sight, and the view as you approach them is gorgeous. You would miss out on all that if you don’t walk the trail. The villages really are just as lovely in reality as they are in photos.
I think the Cinque Terre is one of the most natural places in Italy to see. Go at a quieter time of the year (avoid Italian school holidays, apparently popular with the
school children), and walk the trail. It is something that I always rave about, and will never forget.