Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore

Wednesday, 18 April 2012
town center
marina1
marina3

I'm one of those individuals who eschew luxury accommodation when I'm traveling.  As long as it's centrally located, clean, comfortable and the service comes with a smile, I'm a happy camper. I had a measly budget of €130 per day which included accommodation, food and transportation for the 3 of us. Believe it or not, we were within our budget during our travel in Italy. In fact, most days we spent far less. We stayed in spacious apartments or rooms in convent. We ate well. Perhaps too well. Italy is an expensive country to travel but it is still possible to do it on a reasonable budget.


fishing net
windows



Perhaps we were getting a little jaded with eating out - it can get tiresome eating out 3 meals a day and hunting for a good restaurant so we decided to self cater. What a feast we had. Fresh mozzarella! Prosciutto wrapped around sweet melons. The local fontina and gorgonzola cheeses were to die for. We dug into the local trofie pasta coated with cheese sauce. Crispy cherry plum tomatoes bursting with flavor simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a touch of salt to bring out the sweetness. Judging from my flatter tummy, the hours of walking was a blessing in disguise. Ah yes, the strenuous climbs up and down the steps in the Cinque Terre coupled with my colorful language when I'm not keeling over. Note to self: must exercise more.

cat
boat


We took a slow train from Rome which was a 4 hour journey getting into La Spezia Centrale before we switched to the local train. FYI, it's important to buy the tickets, particularly if you're traveling long distance (i.e. Rome to Firenze etc) at least 2 days before in order to get a hefty discount (it's called "mini"). You can either purchase the tickets online via trenitalia or from one of the many ticket machines at the train station. We traveled really light lugging only slightly larger than cabin sized trolley suitcases. You'll have to get down at La Spezia Centrale and purchase tickets to the Cinque Terre villages.



flowers2
marina4
church
fisherman


Riomaggiore is the first of the 5 villages if you're coming from La Spezia. It's easily one of the prettiest towns in Cinque Terre, large enough to explore for several days without getting bored. We wandered down to the marina along with massive tour groups from Hong Kong and Taiwan. They come by the busloads and zipped through each town within an hour or so. I shudder just thinking about being herded like sheep from place to place with the tour guide holding an umbrella well above his head instead of a staff. We climbed up the steps and gawked at the incredible vista in front of us. If you look hard enough, you'll be able to see the other 4 villages stretched across the mountain range.

The weather wasn't all that promising so we decided to buy a week's pass and took the train instead. Most tourists came prepared with proper hiking boots and waterproof parka to walk the entire trail between the villages. The man behind the information desk took one look at Lil L and shook his head. So train it was. I've dreamed about coming to the Cinque Terre for a decade and it was definitely the highlight of our trip.

36 comments:

  1. Hi!

    I'm a silent reader of yr blog for quite some time now. Love yr posts esp on Rome...will be going to Italy (planning to go to Rome & Venice) then off to Paris before finally UK (Scotland & SIL's place in Somerset).....been hvg headache on where to stay in Rome....thanks for the helpful tips....most prob stay at the convents...

    Cheers
    Rae

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rae

      I've stayed in two convents. The entrance to Suore della Sacra Famiglia is just in front of the Sistine Chapel. A double/twin bedroom costs 65€ per night. Beautiful, clean and spacious room with an attached bathroom. Wifi is only available for checking emails only. There's a little kitchen and fridge so you can self cater but the stove doesn't work. To make a booking, email casapaolosesto@pssf.it.

      The other one, Suore Pallottine is situated a mere 5 minute walk from St Peter's Basilica. It's more expensive - 85€ thereabouts. The rooms were smaller but just as clean. The rates include wifi and basic breakfast. To make a booking, email info@procuramissionariepallottine.it.

      We tried to book a room at Bamboo B&B but it was full. They have pretty good reviews on Tripadvisor. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187791-d2063213-Reviews-Bamboo_B_B-Rome_Lazio.html

      Hope this helps!

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  2. I love the first picture the most. Those cute, colorful houses aligned so tightly on the hillside.
    I miss Italy!

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  3. Gorgeous. you are killing me with these! i am dying to go to cinque terre...

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    1. You must, Alice! My photos don't do justice to the place.

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  4. Hi again....

    Thanks so much....very helpful indeed...seeing how expensive the hotel rooms can be esp since we plan to stay almost 1 month for the whole trip, u can guess how stressful budgeting can be...I read frm hungerhunger blog that Terri stayed at camping roma but I hesitate to stay there since we will be traveling w our 2 under-10 yr old kids....we are flying frm good ol KK, Sabah btw...it's really, really helpful to read travel reviews/tips frm parents of young children.

    Gorgeous pics u posted....can't wait for our trip end of next month :)

    Rae

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    1. Rae, I had no idea that Terri stayed at a campsite. It's difficult with young children. I would strongly suggest that you stay at a centrally located accommodation preferably with an option to self cater. Grocery is cheap. It can be frustrating for both you and the kids to go and find a restaurant when everyone's tired and grouchy. I have a number of recommendations for reasonably priced restaurants if you're interested too.

      Seeing that it's a family, I would suggest catching a taxi from the airport to the hotel. You should pay no more than 40€ which is a set price. We did the Terravision (only great if it's one or two ppl max) shuttle to the city centre. It's less hassle. We took the Terravision shuttle (4€ pp) and ended up waiting for 45 minutes for the bus and wandering around the metro and Rome trying to locate the convent. The nuns adore kids even though they only speak Italian. BTW,

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  5. Gorgeous pics, I love them all! I loved my trip in Naples and I'm having withdrawal symptoms now seeing your posts...
    Isn't it crazy how affordable Italy can be outside the main attractions? It pays off when one follows the off beaten path :)

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    1. After reading your blog about Naples, I truly wanted to make it there this time. Oh well. It's certainly the place I want to visit on my next trip to Italy.

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  6. I must, must, must go here! It would be doable for us to visit this area after Rome. Canyoubelieve I haven't seen Italy yet? :)
    Next year, we're coming to visit YOU! Then time for Italy. Save this info for me - you know I'll be asking in a couple of years!

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    1. Laura, I seriously can't wait till you get here. Can you imagine?! It has been a decade since we started chatting so it's high time we get together in one place.

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  7. I am so blown away by your photos! They are beyond amazing! I'm loving all the vibrant colors and that first picture with the buildings tucked into the lush hills is just breath-taking! I know I said this before, but seeing all your pics and hearing all your lovely stories is definitely giving me the traveling itch! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    xxTheresa

    The Habit

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    1. Theresa, I'm touched by your compliments. I'm not a professional photographer and I still have tons to learn. There's nothing more uplifting than an appreciative audience. Thank you!

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  8. Wow, what incredible photos you took.... they are stunning and loving the one of the cat! I've only been to a few places in Italy _ sardinia and Florence so I'm going to look this up on the map!

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    1. I love Florence! Definitely my favorite Italian city. I've yet to go to Sardinia. There are tons of places in Italy that I want to explore so I guess I'll have to make another trip back :P

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  9. Your photos are absolutely magnificent! I LOVE the cinque terre - it's where my husband and I got engaged (in Vernazza) so holds a lot of special memories for me. I loved spending our days walking between the towns, exploring them and swimming in the sea when I got too hot. I so enjoyed your photos - you've totally made my day!

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    1. How romantic! We didn't end up going to Vernazza. The village was badly affected by last October's flash flood and mudslide. I've seen incredible photos of the place. If Monterosso was any indication, they're probably still shucking mud and rebuilding the village.

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  10. These photos are sooo good! Make me daydream about holidays!!

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

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  11. Yes, I'd really appreciate any recommendations pls....I will pm u @ yr gmail acc soon, thanks so much.

    Rae :)

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  12. These pictures are fantastic!! IT seems you have done Cinque Terre incredible justice. What I LOVE most though is the fact my bf and I are visiting her too this year and so I just got a sneak peak at what to expect AND lots of great little tips. I am seriously going to need to study your blog before I get over there ( I just read the tip about buying your tickets a few days before and thank you soooo much - seriously invaluable advice).

    Anna xo

    http://lifesshinyprettythings.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Hi Anna, feel free to contact me if you need more information. I'm happy to share any (hopefully!) helpful tips :)

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  13. love love love! self-catering is the best, especially in places with such good produce! i have to really think about making a trip there soon! ;)

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    1. I had raving reviews from 2 food critics - Lil L and my mom whenever I put simple ingredients together for a meal. But all I got was silence whenever I took them to a restaurant! I guess my theory of fresh produce = cheap = great meals :D

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  14. Did you take these pictures? Just wow...
    X the cookies
    samecookiesdifferent.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely compliment. Yes, I did. I'm glad you like the photos.

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  15. WalrusWantsChocolate19 April 2012 at 19:59

    Oh wow, you went to Cinque Terre after Rome! Your mom must've had a blast! We have to catch up with Scott's best friend in Italy some time in September and they suggested Cinque Terre. But now that I've read about the hiking and walking up and down the stairs, I've decided NO WAY AM I CARRYING/LUGGING/HOISTING a squirmy I-want-to-get-down-and-walk toddler all over the place! So will have to suggest somewhere else! Thanks!! Great photos, as usual!

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    1. She loved it! Hahaha...the both of us lost a bit of weight thanks to the amount of walking we did. Uphill, downhill..... Well, you could get Scott and his mate to do all the lugging. We didn't hike at all because it just wasn't doable with a child under 10. I must admit, pushing the stroller (saw a few locals did it) uphill takes a bit of practice. Not that you need to lose any weight (so envious!).

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  16. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! Did y'all go through the red tunnel of "LOVE"? Your vacation sounds absolutely fantastic!! And I'm sure you have the most wonderful pictures to prove it!! LOVE all your gorgeous pics!

    xo, sam

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    1. Each time we tried to walk the Via dell'Amore, it started to drizzle. We gave up after day 3 and took the train instead. Glad you like the photos!

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  17. Ooh your description of your self catered feast is making my mouth water. More gorgeous photos!

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  18. Looks like a quaint lovely place... :)
    You mentioned a lot of walking done, little L is ok with this? My son doesn't want to walk long distance :(

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