For our first stop at the port of La Spezia, Italy, we plan to venture to Cinque Terre to explore the five villages. We are planning to go to the furthest village, Monterosso first, and then work our way back towards La Spezia.
There are three options for visiting Cinque Terre: 1) take the ferry, 2) take the train, or 3) book an excursion through the cruise line. Option 3 is out for us because it’s pretty pricey compared with what we can do on our own, and while I know it comes with a guide and a guarantee “won’t be left behind” if the tour is running late, we feel like we’re experienced enough to set out on our own.
Of course we won’t really be on our own because there are quite a few people that we’ve become acquainted with on the DISBoards who are also making Cinque Terre a DIY excursion. We are arming ourselves with the Ferry schedule and the Train schedule. The ferry takes about two hours to go from La Spezia up to Monterosso, and it stops at each village on the way up and back except for Corniglia which doesn’t have water access. The train takes about 25 minutes to go from La Spezia up to Monterosso.
The train schedule is such that we can spend a little more than an hour in Monterosso and Vernazza each before needing to take the train to Corniglia if we want to see anything there because mid-day there are a couple of express trains that skip stopping in Corniglia. (Which is partly why I want to see it because it is skipped over by ferry-boat passengers and often by train passengers.)
From Corniglia, we would head to Manarola where we can spend another hour or so, and if the Via dell'Amore happens to open within the next six weeks, we’ll be able to stroll the Lover’s Lane from Manarola to Riomaggiore. The trail has been closed for some time due to damage from flooding and landslides that have made it unsafe for pedestrians, but we will check right up until time to go to see if it reopens as the season begins..
But if the trail isn’t open, we plan to take the train back to Riomaggiore and have a walk-about there before heading back to La Spezia either by train or by ferry, depending on weather and time. We expect we will walk the 20 minutes or so to the train station in the morning if we’re able to get off the ship early enough. La Spezia is a tendering port so that means the cruise line will take the passengers who are doing shore excursions booked through them to the shore first; many of them will be heading for all day adventures in Florence, Pisa, and other places. The rest of us will have to wait for the call for everyone else to tender into port, so that can be a bit of a delay in getting ashore. We figured we would save our cab fare for the trip from the train station back to where the tenders board at the end of the day.