Monday 12 May 2008

When to buy the Cinque Terre Card?

Before we went to Cinque Terre we did some Web research on what kind of tickets are best to buy in the five days we were spending in the region.

It's a fact that you need a ticket for hiking the blue path (a coastal path also marked with number 2 on some maps) within Cinque Terre National Park.
One option is the Cinque Terre Train Card (5terre train), which includes usage of the blue path and unlimited train usage between La Spezia and Levanto.
Please be careful when buying the card, because there is also a version without the train available (Cinque Terre Card). For more information please refer to this site.

This option (5terre train) is worth taking only in case your plans include hiking around the park (using also the blue path) and taking at least two train journeys a day. Take into account that if your hiking plans include avoiding the crowds, you probably won't be taking the blue path too often.
If this is going to be your routine for more days in a row, you might consider choosing a two or three day ticket (it is cheaper to take a two day card, than two single day ones). Please bear in mind that we were stopped by a ticket control every time we entered the blue path, but if we didn't have the ticket at the time, we could buy it on the spot.

A couple of years ago there was also a ticket available, covering hiking, train and boat rides. I think it is not sold anymore.

As we were staying in Levanto, we figured that we will be using the train at least twice a day and our plans also included three days of hiking. So we chose a three day Cinque Terre Train Card, which we bought at the information center in Levanto (a guy there also recommended it). We weren't sorry, because among other things this was a very elegant way to avoid long queues every morning at the train station.
This can be quite a strong point, especially during the busiest summer months. We just weren't expecting so many people at the train stations on some occasions. And it wasn't even high season yet!

On the other hand, if you are only planning to do some small amount of hiking (and not for more days in a row) or your plan is to stay in one of the towns within the park, I think you don't need the combined ticket.
If standing in a queue to buy a train ticket is a big turnoff for you, you might even buy the Cinque Terre Train Card for this reason alone.

Don't forget to validate the ticket at the train station before you take the first train ride (use the yellow machine).
If you are wondering how exactly a train ticket validator looks like, you can check it out on this link.

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.


Friday 9 May 2008

Camping in Cinque Terre

When we chose Cinque Terre as our destination, M. and I were going through our options for accommodation. We decided that most of the rooms found on the internet were a bit expensive for our budget.

If you take into account that we have a quite decent tent and that we aren't really all that demanding when it comes to travel comfort, the logical decision is to go camping. As we have already tried quite a few camping sites around Italy, this time we didn't want to choose the cheapest one.

Location was also an important criteria. Because of a lack of parking spaces near most of the five towns, we tried to find a location with as many trains to the Cinque Terre National Park as possible.
Because we found no camping sites in the park itself, we decided to stay in Levanto, which is just North of the National park. There are a couple of camping sites to choose from in Levanto. We chose the one with best guest feedback.

We really couldn't find any discouraging information on Acqua Dolce Camping. The only few bad comments were associated with too much crowds in July and August.

As we went in the beginning of May, we didn't expect to see many people camping. But as I already mentioned in my previous post, Acqua Dolce Camping was full. Even the guy at the reception said that it was not an every year occurrence.

This camping has a quite strict set of rules, some of which are really unusual for Italy. They even have leaflets printed for different situations.

For instance if you don't park your car close enough to the car next to it you soon find a piece of paper stuck under your car's wiper (like the one you can see on the photo below).

I just couldn't stop laughing when I saw a Swiss car with such a piece of paper put there by an Italian guy. If that isn't a stereotype turned upside down, I don't know what is!
And I couldn't even say the Swiss car was all that badly parked. Especially regarding that there were no parking spaces marked on the ground.

I think those of you who ever tried car driving (and parking) in Italy, will easily see the irony of this event.

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.


Tuesday 6 May 2008

Back from Cinque Terre

We are back from Cinque Terre, Italy! We were away for five days and came back two days ago... and once again we had a great time.

The weather was like it had been ordered in advance - sunny and not at all too cold for camping. We stayed in the Acqua Dolce Camping in Levanto.

Surprisingly it was almost full. On Thursday (1st of May) they even put out a sign stating, they ran out of space for caravans. This was quite a surprise for us. It is not a big camping site, but to be full at this time of year, came as a total surprise for us.

We took advantage of the weather and hiked for three days in the Cinque Terre National Park.

We also took time to enjoy some of the local cuisine and wine.

In the following few posts I will try to describe our experience in these short five days, include some nice photos and share a couple of useful tips for those of you who are thinking of going there.

The above three photos should do as an appetizer. On the second one you can see the beach of Levanto (which is officially not a part of Cinque Terre, but almost as beautiful) and on the third one is Manarola.

If you liked this post and are interested in more information on our trip, please click on this link or on the Cinque Terre label in the right frame.

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