Cinque Terre: An Easier Way to Experience Italy's Best Walk

Riomaggiore is where the trip starts, taking in all five of the villages in Cinque Terre.
Riomaggiore is where the trip starts, taking in four of the five villages in Cinque Terre.

Take in the Smell of the Sea in Cinque Terre

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

There are few places as breathtaking as Liguria's Cinque Terre, five villages in a seaside national park in Tuscany.

You can travel there alone, or you can join up with Ciao Florence, a local tour operator, and take in all five with the benefit of a guide who can show you what you might not find on your own. Having traveled for many decades, I've come to the conclusion that the little details, views, and tastes that a guide provides make any destination even more rewarding.

Cinque Terre Travelers

In Manarola, like in all of the five villages, the photo ops are amazing!
In Manarola, like in all of the five villages, the photo ops are spectacular!

We spoke with several travelers who took the Cinque Terre Tour called "The Scent of the Sea" with Ciao Florence. Roger Rutten, a graduate student from the Netherlands, explained that he was studying in Florence and that he likes to get out and explore.

"The Cinque Terre tour was kind of a 'top five bucket list' thing I wanted to see as much as possible during my internship.

What was the highlight of the Cinque Terre tour for you?

It’s hard to say just one highlight. I have several: The amazing views, the warm weather, the beach and the fresh seafood. The villages were small but really typical fisherman villages.

What did you bring with you that you were glad you did? What would you leave behind next time?

I brought my towel and swim shorts with me and I was glad I did. The weather was beautiful and the water was really blue and clean. There is nothing I would leave at home for the next time.

What was the guide like?

Boats by the sea.
Boats wait by the sea in Cinque Terre.

The guide I had was really awesome!!!   But you know within a few minutes that she knows what she was saying. She has been on this trip a hundred times or more. She explained a lot of things and she recommended places to eat and relax. Besides all this, she maintained the schedule very well and she talked with everyone."

What was your favorite town of all of the five towns in Cinque Terre? Why?

Riomaggiore was my favorite of all time. It had such amazing views and delicious foods. I didn’t want to leave. It is a place where you want to become old!"

We asked Roger about what the difference is between taking this trip on your own and with a tour.

"If I had taken this trip by myself or with my brother, I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed the trip so much. Having a professional guide was just the thing you need when you are on vacation. It makes the most of a short period of time to have the best experience."

Josey from NC

The small villages are connected by a series of pathways along the rocky shore of Tuscany.
The small villages are connected by a series of pathways along the rocky shore of Tuscany.

"I traveled to Cinque Terre in mid-July 2017 by myself during a vacation in Florence. I am from North Carolina and am a full-time college student who loves to travel. I prefer a combination of adventure and “knowledge” (museum) type travel. I have always loved the beach and the water, so Cinque Terre was a must visit for me.

I had heard of Cinque Terre before this tour from friends who had visited there and loved it. In addition, I had also read about Cinque Terre online from travel experts and travel blogs. This was a “bucket list” & “must see” for me when I was in Italy," said Josey.

What was the highlight of the Cinque Terre tour for you?

Personally, the highlight was getting the chance to swim in the ocean and relax by the beach. I also enjoyed having the free time in the different towns to take pictures and wander around-this was a plus for me.

Since we traveled by both ferry and train, we were able to have a unique view of the towns from the water, which was a great photo opportunity. Having the free time in each town to do whatever you wanted and not have to stick with the group was the perfect amount of freedom and guidance.

Roger Rutten.

What did you bring with you that you were glad you did? What would you leave behind next time?

I brought a small over the shoulder backpack with a beach towel, swimsuit, sunscreen, a water bottle, some snacks, and my camera! I was very glad that I brought all of those things because the weather was very warm. Next time, I would leave behind the few snacks that I packed.

The snacks made my backpack heavier than necessary and I didn’t even end up eating them because I was so full from the wonderful lunch we were served (seafood salad, pasta with pesto, dessert). If you were to get hungry during the day there are plenty of places to run in and grab a snack or a gelato.

What was the guide like?

Josey Parker

Our guide, Giuilo, was wonderful and very informative. On the bus ride to Cinque Terre, he told us about the surrounding areas we were passing and gave us the history and background of Cinque Terre. Giuilo was very organized and the day ran smoothly because of him.

He was exceptional in gathering all of the clients at our meeting spot and making sure everyone got to the ferry and the train on time and all together. Giuilo also had great suggestions of what to do and see during our free time in the villages which was well appreciated. Overall, our guide was professional and personable and make the trip run so smoothly.

What was your favorite town of all of the five towns in Cinque Terre? Why?

My favorite town was Manarola because of the beautiful panoramic views it offered. When we visited this town, I spent most of my time wandering around taking pictures from the various viewpoints.

Easier with the Tour

In traveling to Cinque Terre with Ciao Florence rather than by myself, the trip was much less stressful and I didn’t have to worry about the logistics.

Vernazza
Vernazza

Trying to figure out the transportation from Florence to Cinque Terre would have been difficult for me as well as figuring out the best way to get between the different villages.

Had I traveled by myself, I think I would have wasted most of my day attempting to figure out the logistics of transport rather than enjoying the beauty of the towns.

In traveling with Ciao Florence all of that was handled and our guide Giuilo just told us where to meet and gave us our train/ferry tickets and then told us where to get off when we were on the train and ferry.

Also, since I was traveling alone, going worth a tour operator allowed me to meet new people and spend the day with them, rather than going to Cinque Terre on my own as a solo traveler.

Ciao Florence Cinque Terre Tour: The Scent of the Sea

The visit begins at daybreak, in the village of Riomaggiore, which dates back to the early thirteenth century.  Here you will stroll along narrow cobblestone alleyways, see houses leaning against each other and walk on sheltered pathways. The tour proceeds to Manarola, walking along the famous Via dell'Amore, (the Path of Love), which is an evocative romantic walkway hewn from sheer rock cliffs.

You'll next visit Monterosso, an ancient fishing village, which is considered to be "the Pearl of Cinque Terre" with enchanting beaches and lush vegetation surrounding the little town. Here is where you'll be glad you brought your bathing suit, for a plunge into the sea and some sunbathing. Later we'll take a boat to Vernazza, a seaside town that surrounds a small fishing port.   Find out more about the trip from Ciao Florence.

Max Hartshorne

Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.