Day 8 – Firenze SMN > Pisa > La Spezia > Check-in Riomaggiore > photo taking around Riomaggiore > Dinner at Riomaggiore
I feel the worse thing somebody can do before you travel anywhere, is to overhype something that they’ve done before and this only results in disappointment. Most people that go to Italy, will marvel at the canals of Venice, the beauty of Florence and the sites of Rome, but despite the risk of over-building expectations, Cinque Terre was definitely the highlight of our trip. It was the main reason we decided to visit Italy after seeing those stunning photos of the colorful coastal houses, a site that is made even more impressive around sunset.
This is the kind of breakfast we had during our stay in Florence. We were trying to balance our heavy dinners, with a lighter and healthier breakfast. Despite being on holidays, to eat a pasta and meat dish for main every night for two weeks, one has to learn to cut back somewhere.
After our power breakfast, we were ready for our long journey to Riomaggiore. We needed to hop on 3 different trains and it ended up taking around 2.5 hours to get there from Firenze SMN. It is quite a bit of hassle to get there but it is totally worth it. Some tourists go there for a day trip but I think you should stay there for at least 1 night, preferably 2, to see the different villages. We even met a family that fit in Pisa in the morning, and were rushing to Riomaggiore just before midday. It is essential to check the train schedule before getting there. Given the random nature and regularity of train strikes in Italy, there’s also a huge element of luck.
Firenze SMN -> Pisa Centrale -> La Spezia -> Riomaggiore
We had a very tight connection time from Pisa to La Spezia (around 6mins). If you missed the train, we would’ve had to wait for about 30mins for the next one. We had to carry our luggage and literally run to another platform to catch the train to La Spezia. Thanks to Mr Map’s regular gym training, he was carrying 2 big luggage cases, and one on each arm proceeded to powerclimb up all the stairs to another platform whilst I ran up to the platform to double check the screen showing the La Spezia train platform.
Cinque Terre means “five lands” in Italian and the 5 villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
Click below for the detail description of the 5 villages:
Riomaggiore is closest village to La Spezia and it is famous for the Via dell’Amore (The way of love), a trail that connects RIomaggiore and Manarola. However, the path was closed since 2012 due to the rockslide and injured 4 tourists. In April 2015, 200 meters of the trail had been reopened.
Finally we arrived in Riomaggiore at around 2pm, it is the first village of the Cinque Terre from La Spezia. We stayed there for 3 nights and used it as our base to explore the different villages as it is easy to get around.
Upon arrival, the apartment owner sent one of his staff to meet us at the train station and took us to the apartment. We had to walk up quite a bit of stairs to get to our apartment but this is quite normal in Cinque Terre. The staff sent by the apartment owner was really nice and helped us with our luggage. Here is our lovely apartment close to the Riomaggiore train station. I love the patio upstairs from our room. We had a very enjoyable stay, possibly the best of all the Airbnb apartments we stayed at over our two weeks in Italy.
Our apartment in Riomaggiore: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3539321
As soon as we checked-in and dropped our bags, Mr Map couldn’t wait to get some food nearby. It looks like some sort of elongated arancini but wasn’t really an arancini. We ended up in a restaurant nearby the main street and had lunch there.
The meal was average. A meal we would have been happy with at the start of our trip, but given the high quality Italian food we had since, our palates had been changed, and our standards raised since 🙂
The villages are quite busy during the day as there are many cruise visitors who come to Cinque Terre for a day trip. We decided to have a relaxing day walking around in Riomaggiore taking photos of the colorful houses for the rest of the day.
The best spot to take a perfect photo of Riomaggiore is from the beach, or from the pavement above which is on the way to the ferry dock. We went to an Italian restaurant called il grottino in the main street which was also downstairs from our apartment.
The one thing I learnt from Italy is that a pasta doesn’t need a lot of sauce to taste amazing. A simple pasta which we had here, is really yummy even if it’s just made with tomato & some light sauce and olive oil.
Traditional Italian dessert Tiramisu
Address: Via Colombo 236, Riomaggiore
There is not much to do after dark and given our fear of going for a night walk and falling down a cliff, we just went back to our apartment after dinner and called it a night. It was getting cold as we were there in late October and a little cooler than Florence and a lot cooler than Rome. We spent the night looking over the hiking trails and highlights of the other towns, to plan for our next two days and get ourselves rested for an early morning hike.