After reading some of the comments, I felt prompted to share our experience in the wonderful Cinque Terre, because I can’t believe there are still people like ‘Holly’ who travel without researching their destination beforehand; it can make or break your trip and there is no excuse when we have access to such a wonderful website as this.
Our family of 4 adults visited the Cinque Terre for a day in September 2001, after learning of it through the Internet; as the unofficial Tour Director, I kept returning to your website to get the latest updates, thus setting our itinerary before we left Australia.
I decided we would walk North to South (on a Tuesday if possible, to catch the market in Vernazza), as that would get the most difficult part over first (I feared if we walked South to North we might reach Vernazza and find it too tempting to stay put, knowing the hardest section was to follow!); I also decided we needed to be on the Cinque Terre track very early to avoid the crowds and after downloading the train timetable from the internet, I determined that the appropriate train (incl most direct) departed Santa Margherita at 6.35am. I had based us for a week in a hotel in Santa Margherita, just down the hill from the train station and it was fun sitting on the train at that hour with locals going to work. We arrived at Monterosso an hour later and despite taking some time to locate the track out of Monterosso, it was a wonderful walk, albeit tough-going at times, at dawn, with not another soul on the track until after Vernazza (and from there only a couple, gradually increasing in numbers as the day wore on). The total silence, punctuated by the occasional crowing rooster or barking dog, and the cool new-morning air, made such a difference to our walk, especially when, as if on queue, the clouds parted and disappeared as we looked down onto Vernazza, so that for the easier part of the walk we were bathed in warm sunshine under a cloudless sky. After a long swim at Riomaggiore, we caught the train back to Vernazza, where we dined on the waterfront before catching a crowded, evening train back to Santa Margherita.
Such a special experience and such a privilege to be permitted to walk there, interrupting the daily lives of the marvelous, accommodating local residents. We so look forward to visiting the Cinque Terre again, perhaps experience the walk from South to North, perhaps spring this time instead of autumn – and I will happily don my Tour Director’s mantle again, gleaning any information I can from your indispensable website, to plan a return trip. Thank you again, for all your assistance!
p.s. We did not enjoy our detour to Guvano beach; after reading a comment on your website, I had anticipated a different experience. The very badly, handwritten ‘entrance fees’ at the start of the tunnel looked foreboding and we should have heeded our instincts: the walk through the dimly lit tunnel and the ‘welcome’ by the unsavory-looking ‘owners’ at the end was so unsettling, we couldn’t wait to finish our solitary swim there and returning back through the tunnel, we prayed the gate would be open for us to escape – for the first and only time on the walk, we actually wished there had been other people there with us – however, the relief at the sight of daylight and the gate ajar, enabled us to continue the walk again in high spirits!