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Riding the buses » Italy, Travel itinerary » A workout with a view: Hiking in the Italian Cinque Terre

A workout with a view: Hiking in the Italian Cinque Terre

For my 65th birthday, I treated myself to a two-week gardening tour in Italy.  Before joining the tour group in Lucca, I travelled north from the Pisa airport to Cinque Terre (‘Five Lands’) where I spent three nights in one of the villages.

Although I had travelled extensively throughout Italy in my youth, I managed to miss Cinque Terre.  It was not until my older son and a nephew explored the region 24 years later that I realized that one of Italy’s most beautiful destinations had escaped my attention.

At the time of their travels, Craig and Jason were young, fit and keen to trek the trails connecting the towns.  I, on the other hand, was looking forward to a balcony with a sea view, a good book and a glass of the local wine and, of course, some pleasant walks and hopefully a boat trip along the coast to view the five villages from the sea.

Reaching the area by train is relatively easy.  Tickets can be booked on-line and although it is necessary to change trains a few times, the process is straightforward (Pisa Airport, Pisa Central Station, La Spezia and Cinque Terre).  Once the train reaches the Cinque Terre region, it stops at each town – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.  The greatest challenge of the trip was carrying my suitcase up long flights of stairs in the railroad stations.

Manarola was my village of choice because I liked the look of it and the rental agency found me a charming apartment with a balcony and views of the sea, the village and the hills (  Since I was on my own, I decided not to dine out – although there are excellent restaurants in Manarola and nearby villages.  Dining ‘at home’ was not a hardship since I could purchase marvelous food from shops 5 minutes away and enjoy the meal on my balcony watching the sun set.
Other birthday articles
Celebrating my 60th birthday in Costa Rica
Celebrating my 30th birthday in the great city of Chicago
Celebrating my 70th birthday: The Nijmegen March: 4 days, 40 km/day

Sadly, hikers sometimes face disappointment when visiting Cinque Terre due to weather conditions and landslides.  One section of the trail was closed when I arrived.  On the next day the entire trail was closed and rough weather prevented the ferry from operating between towns.  Fortunately the trains continued to run and it was possible to stop at each village and explore before moving on to the next place.

Although the beauty and splendor of Tuscany, and the towns I subsequently visited, are truly remarkable, the memory of five colourful, almost quirky villages, positioned along a spectacular Mediterranean coastline, set against a mountain range, sometimes clinging to the sides of cliffs, continues to linger in my mind.

By Barbara Reinhardus

Photo credits Barbara Reinhardus

© Riding the buses 2012

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3 Responses to "A workout with a view: Hiking in the Italian Cinque Terre"

  1. Sue francis says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I have only just discovered the riding the buses website and am now devouring it with great interest. I came across this entry by you and I also love the Cinque Terre but I was interested in your garden tour reference as I had read your earlier report on Ninfa. I have included a trip to Ninfa in my forthcoming trip to Italy and would love to hear of a garden tour

    I wonder if you would be kind enough to share the details of the garden tour?
    Thank you

    1. Sylvia Fanjoy says:

      Dear Sue,

      I was part of a garden tour organized by a Canadian company and Ninfa was on the itinerary. Of all the wonderful gardens we visited, Ninfa was my favourite.

      I had no responsibility for the logistics of the trip; however, I know that it is possible for individuals to purchase tickets and join a tour. Matter of fact, one cannot wander about the gardens but has to be part of a group with a guide leading the way and providing information. Since everyone in our group spoke English, the guide did as well. I noticed on the website that most tours are conducted in Italian but guides will give explanations in English.

      Information about dates, timings and tickets can be found on their website. If you click on the British flag, you can access the English translation.

      Hope it works out for you. Ninfa is worth the effort!


      1. Sue francis says:

        Dear Barbara,
        Thank you so much for your reply.

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