Heading towards Cinque Terre from Bologna, we stopped off at Sala Baganza for the night on Saturday. The sosta there was another freebie, located in a sports complex on the edge of a pretty village. The local football team was playing at home, so I went to watch the 3-3 draw, which was a fair result.
The next morning we set off for La Spezia, our base for visiting Cinque Terre, the five small villages on the coast making up this UNESCO World Heritage site. Being the tight sods that we are, we set the sat nav to avoid tolls, and so the route it chose took us over the Apennines, the spine-like mountain range running the length of Italy’s eastern coast. The climbs were long and slow, twisting their way up to the summit, with a steeper descent the other side. The signs said that winter tyres or carrying snow chains were compulsory, so it wasn’t a surprise to see that snow had fallen on the higher ground. The scenery was wonderful, something we wouldn’t have seen travelling on the toll road. Luckily for us the road had been gritted, so no need to get the snow chains out.
The sosta in La Spezia is situated close to the the docks, and is owned by the Red Cross (€12/night incl. EHU – proceeds to the Red Cross). The pitches are tiny, more akin to a car park, but this is to be expected when most of the visitors will be spending the day at Cinque Terre.
This morning we caught the bus from the port to La Spezia train station, where we bought a Cinque Terre railcard. We then took the train to the furthest village Monterosso. Once we’d had a look around (and an early lunch) we worked our way back along the train line to visit Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and finally Riomaggiore. Fortunately for us it was a beautiful day – warm and sunny with clear blue skies. I’ve seen countless photos of the Cinque Terre villages on social media and other people’s blogs and they’re certainly picturesque. They do suffer from the popularity though, and are packed with tourists in the summer. Even now, in the middle of November, there are still quite a few tourists about, but not enough to spoil it.
Tomorrow we shall leave La Spezia and head south towards Lucca and Pisa.