Florence (Livorno) Cinque Terre Excursion Reviews
Loved, loved, loved Cinque Terre! It was really hard to not go to Florence since we've been there before and love it so much, but seeing Cinque Terre was worth the trade off!! Such an interesting area! Great tour!!
Much too ambitious an excursion from this port. It was 1 1/2 hr each way, and then, three trains to catch in villages. We spent as long waiting for trains in first two villages as we did being there. We
waited under blistering sun for 30 mins in first village, and then after almost the same amount of time in 2nd village, we had to run to a different track. In last station, we managed to catch the 2:30 train at 3:30. Once we arrived in a village, the rest of the time seemed to be spent in making sure we got back to the train in time. I never relaxed, and certainly, never stopped "to smell the roses".
And, I never got or even saw that iconic Cinque Terre photo so common on travel websites.
We docked at La Spezia. We walked from the port to La Spezia Centrale Train Station. There is an information both at the port where you can get a map. It takes around 30 minutes to walk to the train station- despite the fact that at the port we were told it takes 15 minutes. The station is quite chaotic and small. If going to Cinque Terre, find the Cinque Terre information office. When we went, it was located by the platform where the trains depart. So, do not stand in the long queue, walk toward the trains and hopefully you will find it. Buy your Cinque Terre card, which allows you travel on the trains, and buses. Ensure that you validate your card at each station. Even if you have your card, but it's not validated, you may get fined. We only visited two of the towns due to time restrictions, but will return. We had a lovely lunch at Food and Sea in Corniglia. I would definitely recommend visiting and it is easy to do it on your own. Mind you, there is lots of uphill walking, so not for the faint of heart, in wheelchairs, or otherwise impaired.
So we loved Cinque Terre - absolutely worth seeing. Our tour however was crowded and chaotic. The walking path was closed and the boats weren't running, so we had to take the train from village to village. Us and thousands of our closest friends (and pickpockets). We loved CT and would love to go back on our own schedule.
An amazing place to visit.
We've been on many excursions, but this one was by far the worst ever. It was overbooked and very poorly planned. We were supposed to take a lovely ferry ride to 4 of the 5 pretty towns overlooking the ocean. After a stammered excuse that the sea was "too rough", our guide put us on a terribly hot, overcrowded train with no ventilation. Except for one town at which we were given an hour and 15 minutes for lunch and shopping, we had only about 15 minutes in each of the other towns--not enough to do anything but walk a bit then turn around and head back to wait for another train. We had to stand for agonizingly long periods in the blazing sun or in dark, dank, cave-like tunnels to wait for the trains--sometimes as long as 30 minutes, time we could have used to explore the towns. We spent much longer waiting for trains than we spent actually walking through the towns. The train rides were miserable. Seriously, sardines have it better than we did, crammed into trains designed for far fewer people. At the last town all the tourists on the excursion grumbled so much that the ridiculously inept tour guide finally relented and told us the reason we hadn't taken the ferry was because there were simply too many people. Our ship alone had more than 200 people taking this excursion, and there were at least four or five other ships in port that sent similar numbers of people on the same excursion. There was no way the ferry or train system could handle so many people. At that point, we were allowed to take the ferry back to meet the bus to Livorno, and it was a lovely trip. But by this time we were all so frustrated and miserable we didn't enjoy it as much as we should have.
If I could give this excursion less than 1 star, I certainly would.
Beautiful views via train, boat. A long excursion. Visited 4 of the 5 towns.