Cinque Terre

I chose Monterosso to stay in because it had better train connections, the best beaches, and it was more flat, which I thought we would appreciate. (We did.)

Day 1: Bellagio to Monterosso

We caught the 8:40 boat from Bellagio to Varenna, where we met a nice couple from New Hampshire while waiting for the train. Our train picked us up 16 minutes late and was over 30 minutes late into Milan, so we missed our next train. It took an hour to get new tickets and we didn’t get seats. So we confused people and had to hop around a little. (Seats are assigned but are not marked on the train in any way so it’s impossible to tell if a seat is reserved for someone else. Other passengers assumed we didn’t know how to read our tickets.) We arrived two hours later than planned.

Monterosso is pretty and our place is small and friendly, and convenient to the market, where we bought wine, milk, and breakfast. We had dinner reservations at Belvedere down by the beach, where we had delicious mixed seafood antipasti, pesto, and mixed grilled seafood. We topped it off with gelato on the way home: pistachio and lemon basil.

Day 2: Capuchin Monastery

We slept in today, then checked out the Monterosso to Vernazza path. We ended up opting to climb up to the monastery instead, which also had great views and was easier. (And less crowded.)

view from top of hill

After our walk we went to an enoteca for beers and lemon spritzes. With snacks: peanuts, olives, capers. Yum. We had dinner reservations for Da Eraldo where we tried their mixed seafood antipasti and stuff anchovies and grilled calamari. (If you’re wondering how you stuff an anchovy, you sandwich stuffing in between two anchovies.)

We finished up with pistachio gelato while we made reservations at Belvedere for tomorrow. A cat was interested in our dinner. A dog was interested in Steve’s gelato. 

Day 3: Via dell' Amore and the other Villages

This morning was our scheduled, guided walk on the partially reopened Via dell’Amore. Our guide was local, knowledgeable, and interesting. They’re requiring a scheduled, guided tour for visitors to cut down on overcrowding and vandalism, and to build appreciation for the area beyond snapping the perfect selfie.

via dell'Amore

Our ticket included a visit to the castle in Riomaggiore. We stopped at the other Cinque Terre villages by train on our way back.

Cinque Terre village

We had another excellent dinner at Belvedere, marred only by another table of loud, obnoxious Americans at the next table.

hillside with lights

Day 4: The Beach

We walked down to the gravelly beach and got our feet wet this morning. The water felt good, the pebbles did not.

We wanted to have breakfast out but the breakfast place was closed and so was the enoteca where we’d planned to buy wine. So we went to the nearby market. There was an argument going on between the manager and a tourist so we went to a different market.

For dinner we had ham and cheese and Napoli pizza at La Smorfia. Steve’s not feeling well. We also saw 5′ swordfish on a wheelbarrow.

old town beach
Here's a last look at the beautiful coast. Tomorrow we're off to Florence.

Essentials​

Lodging

Our room at Albergo al Carugio was small as described but large enough. Room for all the necessities and even a desk/dining area. It was convenient to have a clothesline. (I don’t know why more hotels in beach areas don’t offer this.) Extensive info from host on the area: restaurants, train and bus schedules, walks … Just an all around great place and in a quiet area.

Dining

We had dinner twice at Belvedere. Excellent service and great food at a busy place overlooking the beach. We also enjoyed Da Eraldo and pizza at La Smorfia. 

Transportation

Trains and ferries are the best way to get between villages. (We took the train.) We walked everywhere within Monterosso. One of the reasons we chose it as our base was easier incoming and ongoing connections. We took InterCity trains that were faster and had assigned seats, so less crowded.