Wednesday, April 9, 2014

traveling cinque terre, italy in the off season

If you are thinking about traveling Cinque, Terre Italy in the off-season--this post is for you!
We were there in February of this year, and we learned some things that no other travel sites had really educated or warned us about beforehand (and one of my favorite parts about writing/documenting our travels is that I get to share what I learn with all of you--because I love reading what other people have learned and want to share with me.
 It makes traveling so much more fulfilling)
Oh, and if you really just want to see pretty pictures of Italy, this post is also for you!
We arrived late afternoon in La Spezia. It was a beautiful February day--chilly but quite lovely. We were able to check into our B&B and then take a walk down to the pier before the sun went down.
We loved the B&B Lia. Check it out here!
Good ratings and lovely service.
Walking distance to the train station and in the heart of La Spezia.
When you visit Cinque Terre, you most likely will (and should) stay in La Spezia. There is a short train ride from there to visit the 5 villages of Cinque Terre. You can buy a day pass so you can travel back and forth from the different villages as much as you like. Also, you can buy the hiking pass and hike along the coast to all the different cities (we were not able to hike due to the time of year we went, but more on that later) 
 A shot of Robert at the pier in La Spezia.
It was absolutely stunning.
The mountains in the background against that blue water were breathtaking!
Sadly, that beautiful weather did not keep up for the next day we were there.
It wasn't overly cold, but the next day did get windy, cloudy and we had a bit of rain. As you can see below though, it did not stop Cinque Terre from being charming & beautiful!
cinque terre travel guide italy
There are five small Cinque Terre villages.
The villages are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Our favorites were Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernazza.
cinque terre italy travel
We obviously were traveling Italy in the off-season. February is not a high tourist time and it's not the most ideal weather for coastal locations.
However, the colder temperatures weren't really a problem at all during our trip
...until Cinque Terre.
I'm going to be honest with you, mainly because nobody told me before we went out there. I did tons of research and never saw anyone say anything about this, but I do not recommend spending the time and money to visit Cinque Terre in the winter. Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful but let me explain why I wouldn't do it again...
First off, it is definitely a spring/summer destination. All the villages felt a bit like ghost-towns, with most of the shops closed, repair/construction work going on, and the weather causing other problems, we felt that it was not worth the money and time we spent to head over to that side. I can see how it would be alive and bustling in the summer time--but it really is a bit deserted in the winter.
The weather also caused us some other disappointments. Because it had been extremely rainy, they had some landslide warnings and had closed off the hiking trails. Taking the train probably worked out for the best, but we were really disappointed that we didn't even have the option to hike the coast, because it was actually decent weather the day we were there and we would have loved to explore a bit more.
cinque terre italy travel in winter
 Despite the empty villages and weather-related issues, we still really enjoyed ourselves. I mean let's be real-- it is still stunning!
P.S. I was probably 20 weeks pregnant in this photo and I remember feeling SO big. Now I'm approaching 29 weeks and my belly has probably tripled in size. Pregnancy is so crazy!
cinque terre italy travel in winter
Look at all that color!
cinque terre italy travel

cinque terre travel guide italy
To see more reviews and to-do's for Cinque Terre, check out TripAdvisor!
Always a go-to for us!
cinque terre italy travel
Overall, both my husband and I agree that Cinque Terre is extremely "touristy". I don't mean that in a bad way, but it definitely caters more toward the touristy season. I can see why people would love it when it's hot and the villages are alive with music, food, and sun--but I have to be honest, unless you're going when you have guaranteed good weather or when it's high-tourist season--I would focus your time, money and efforts on locations that will better serve the conditions. 

cinque terre italy travel
That being said...
I look back on these pictures and I'm completely amazed that such a beautiful place exists and that I've been so blessed to have seen it with my own eyes.
It's pretty magical--even when it is deserted ;)

To see the other Travel Guides from our time in Italy visit HERE!


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  2. best tour and trip place is Cinque Terre Italy you just satisfied yourself with this affordable packages . you can saw the natural beauty of earth which you desire in your mind .The two young owners who run this restaurant with courtesy and a pleasant manner provided in Resturants , a unique holiday accomodation and much more ..once you visit there you always want come there

  3. In 'Prevo', hamlet of Vernazza, you find the highest and most impressive spot of Blue Path at 208 meter above sea level.
    This large property is located in the center of Cinque Terre National Park, right on the Sentiero Azzurro, between Corniglia and Vernazza, with an amazing and nonpareil panorama, away from the bustle of the villages.

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  4. Wow! amazing place i want to traveling in this location...

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  5. Beautiful Italy!! Fantastic world-known attractions, but also its less frequented areas can also offer an authentic experience, idyllic landscapes and lots of culture, history, enogastronomy. For example, the Maremma in southern Tuscany.. or the Salento in Apulia.. or the Tuscia in Latium

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  6. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog! Cinque Terre really does look amazing and is somewhere I want so badly to travel to. With just over a year left on my visa I thought we might be able to squeeze Cinque Terre in over my birthday in February. Now I think I'll swap it out for somewhere else and visit closer to summer time. Thanks for the advice!


  7. Wow. I am so glad I stumbled upon this. I am planning to visit CT in Feb this year and with everyone telling me it would be windy and wet and largely closed, this post was all I wanted. Thanks!

  8. Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.
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  9. Thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going.... I really enjoyed exploring your site. good resource...
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  10. Interesting. I'm bringing 30 people to Italy (age range 12 to 80) in February, and I'm thinking of this as a day trip. On a sunny day, train ride from Florence is about 2 hours 15 minutes each way. It would be a chance to see another part of Italy. But your description leaves me a bit uncertain - I guess I'll schedule two possible day trips. If the weather is nice, perhaps Cinque Terra. If not, then maybe Siena or Bologna from Florence (Bologna at least has porticos if it rains).