Visiting Cinque Terre

Hello. We are traveling to Italy in May 2014. Our original plan was to fly into Milan and stay with a friend for three nights, head to San Gimignano for a night and then fly out of Pisa to Paris for a short time and then to Barcelona for a short time. Our plans in Milan have recently fallen through and we are trying to decide what to do with the first three days of our trip. We are thinking of spending one night in Milan since we will already be there but we are not set on that. Some have suggested Lake Como, Cinque Terre, or Lugano, Switzerland. Which of these would you recommend for 2-3 nights? Or do you have any other locations that you would recommend? It is just my husband and I. We are in our late 20s celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary. Just a little bit about us to help guide your advice: we are interested in sight seeing, trying new foods, wine/beer, light shopping, we enjoy the water/beaches & all activities that surround that. We are not huge museum buffs and we are not really hikers (we are young and in-shape and would enjoy a hike for the beauty of the surroundings but we are not looking for the most adventurous and exhausting hike we can find). We hear great things about Cinque Terre but when I look for things to do there it seems to all revolve around hiking. Do you think we could still enjoy this town? (Don’t get me wrong.. we aren’t against hiking, we are just into more relaxing activities while on vacation.. so I guess my question is- is Cinque Terre full of relaxing hikes for beautiful sight-seeing or strenuous hikes for adventure-seekers?) Let me know your thoughts. I really enjoyed your blog and photos! Thanks!

Melissa

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Hi Melissa, thanks for liking delightfullyitaly.com, and congratulations for your wedding anniversary!

If you like food, wine and sea side, I think that the “5 terre” are what you are looking for… knowing that there is much more to see there than just “5 terre”!
The main highlights of the area are:
– Cinque terre: 5 tiny colored villages (Monterosso,Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore – http://www.cinqueterre.it/info.php) clinging to steep hills, in front of a deep blue see: it’s a natural reserve and a Unesco heritage (http://ventisqueras.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/vernazza-cinque-terre-italy.jpg)
– Portofino, posh and beautiful village, one of the main “dolce vita” spots in the ’50s and San Fruttuoso medieval abbey, located in a secluded beach (http://www.italia.it/it/idee-di-viaggio/mare/portofino.html). You can only get there by boat or after a long hike.
– Sestri Levante, picturesque Liguria village, with a beautiful small beach (the baia del silenzio) and a gorgeous promontory overlooking the sea (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Sestri_Levante_and_Baia_del_Silenzio,_the_Bay_of_Silence.jpg)
– The “Golfo dei poeti” (poets’ gulf), with Portovenere and Lerici as main highlights (http://www.hotelportovenere.it/foto/aeree/01.jpg)
As you see, there is much more to see than just “5 terre”!
Having 2-3 nights (equivalent to 3-4 days) will allow you to visit most of these places, and to have some time to relax as well. And the good new is…  you don’t have to trek! These places can all be easily reached by train (http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=4ddd1a035296f310VgnVCM1000005817f90aRCRD) or, much better, by ferry boat (http://www.traghettiportofino.it/index9ed2.html?lang=en and http://www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/orario.asp?lang=eng).
Of course, you have several hikes, the most famous of which, the Via dell’Amore (more a romantic promenade than a real hike, indeed), is unfortunately still closed due to maintenance works. Nevertheless, a (short) hike among the 5 terre vineyards is an experience I strongly recommend!
From the 5 terre (Sestri, Monterosso) you have  a direct train to Pisa (2,5 hours). Btw, avoid going there by car: not only you don’t need it, but parking is difficult and expensive, and 5 terre roads are terrible!
Concerning your other 2 options:
– Lugano: IMHO, rather boring, drop it!
– Como lake and Bellagio: very nice area, one of the “must see” for most tourists. Said s, it’s perfect for a day trip / 48 hours, but IMHO having 3-4 days I would personally go to 5 terre.
I hope you will find these quick notes useful: if you think so, please help me to promote my blog by sharing it on your preferred Social Networks and by suggesting it to your friends.
Don’t hesitate to get back to me if you would like additional info.
Have a nice trip
JP
Enjoy your stay in Italy!
JP

Would you like a personalized Italian trip advice? Just go to my page “Free Travel Advice“!

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