Celebrity Reflection - Western Mediterranean - Day 2 - La Spezia

Author Anne Plau

We have never been to La Spezia. So there is a lot to see: Pisa and Florence are not far, the Cinque Terre are, so to speak, “in front of the door”, and the place itself should also be worth a tour.

Cinque Terre - spectacular places on the Ligurian coast

From all the possibilities we choose the Cinque Terre. These are five places - Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore - on the Ligurian coast that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The stretch of coast is one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The places are under monument protection, the landscape seems almost untouched, and photos of this idyll adorn many Italy travel guides. And since none of this is secret, there are a lot of tourists every year from spring to autumn.

Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore Cinque Terre - west of Manarola Cinque Terre - Vernazza Cinque Terre - Corniglia

The Cinque Terre can be easily reached by public transport. The railway line along the coast towards Genoa has stations in all parts of the Cinque Terre, regular boats go to the coastal towns between La Spezia and Levanto, and there are local buses.

Our schedule for the day is to take the bus from La Spezia to Portovenere, then take a boat past Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia to Vernazza. There we get off, have a look at Vernazza and take the train to Corniglia. We will also visit this place before taking the train to Manarola. From there we want to walk along Via dell'Amore, the approximately one kilometer long footpath above the sea, to Riomaggiore and from there take the train back to La Spezia.

Portovenere

Portovenere


Portovenere - gateway to the Cinque Terre

Since passengers are not allowed to be in the port area, there is a free shuttle bus from Celebrity Reflection to the cruise terminal at the port exit. Very close by, we get on the number 11 bus and reach Portovenere after 40 minutes. Like the Cinque Terre, the place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is really worth seeing. Colored houses are built on the rocks and up the slope, the alleys at different heights are connected by long stairs or stair tunnels. And the Castello Doria watches over the place.

Boats in the port of Portovenere Alley in Portovenere Portovenere - San Pietro Portovenere

We have enough time to wander around the place. We go to the church of San Pietro, which is located at the end of the village over the sea and almost looks like a small fortress.

The Ligurian coast is like a picture book

At 11:00am the scheduled boat starts along the coast in the direction of Levanto. It's very busy. The 10:30am boat had been chartered entirely by Celebrity Cruises, so it is now tight. In Rio Maggiore, too, a long line of people has formed, winding its way along the narrow path from the jetty to the village. At the next stop in Manarola, many of the passengers leave the boat and the situation relaxes a bit.

Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore - Via dell'Amore Cinque Terre - scheduled boat at Vernazza Cinque Terre - Vernazza

The Ligurian coast is just as picturesque as we expected. Small villages with colored houses are built into the steep slopes of the coast, in between there are terraced areas where vines and olives are grown. From the boat it looks like a picture book.

Many tourists in a small area

We get off in Vernazza. Colorful boats lie in the small harbor, bars and restaurants beckon in the piazza, and winding streets are waiting to be discovered. Above the village there is a ruined castle and everything is framed by vineyards.

Cinque Terre - Doria Tower in Vernazza

Cinque Terre - Doria Tower in Vernazza


Here in Vernazza we notice that the region is very popular with tourists. It's actually beautiful and picturesque, but the crowds that wallow through the place are hard for us to endure. And don't forget, it's only May. We visit the beautiful old church of Santa Margherita de Antiochia on the edge of the port.

Vernazza - Santa Margherita di Antioch

Vernazza - Santa Margherita di Antioch


On the way to the train station we avoid the busy streets and take the next train to Corniglia.

High above the sea

The station is by the sea, while the place is 80 to 100 meters high on the rocks. You can get there by stairs or with a minibus, which always goes up to the place after a train arrives. We go by bus. Corniglia is quieter than Vernazza. The place is less crowded and still pretty. We particularly like the Piazetta Largo Taragio. In this picturesque little square in the center of the village there are a few bars and restaurants that invite you to take a long break.

Via Fieschi in Corniglia Corniglia - Oratorio Santa Caterina Corniglia - Church of San Pietro Corniglia

Via a steep staircase behind the square we reach the oratory of Santa Caterina and a terrace from which we have a breathtaking view over the coast and the towns of the Cinque Terre. We stroll through the narrow, steep streets for a while. We find Corniglia an extremely worthwhile stay.

We go back to the train station on foot. The path descends over 377 steps. The brick staircase called Lardarina always offers wonderful views of the sea and the landscape. The way is strenuous because of the meanwhile quite high temperatures, but the environment makes up for this effort.

Panorama in the west of Corniglia

Panorama in the west of Corniglia


We are giving up our further plans for this day. It's too exhausting for us today. Manarola, Via dell'Amore and Riomaggiore have to wait. We'll take the train straight back to La Spezia.

La Spezia is more than worth a look

La Spezia is a surprisingly beautiful city. Not a tourist place; work is underway in La Spezia. Nevertheless, we get the impression that you can live well here. The city is clean, we see many beautiful buildings - some with arcades -, inviting squares and small parks. From the train station we walk towards the sea through Via del Prione. The pedestrian zone is very pretty, there are attractive shops and restaurants, and there is an old children's carousel in Piazza Ramiro Ginocchio. A wide staircase and an inclined elevator lead to the fortress Castello San Giorgio above the old town. Of course, we don't miss the view from above. You can find information in our post La Spezia sightseeing.

La Spezia - House facade in the Piazza San Agostino La Spezia - Via dei Mille La Spezia - Castle of San Giorgio La Spezia - Castle of San Giorgio

Back in the old town we follow Via del Prione to Viale Italia, which runs along the sea. In the garden opposite we can admire an equestrian statue of the Italian freedom hero Giuseppe Garibaldi and, from the promenade, the modern pedestrian bridge Ponte Thaon di Revel, which leads to the sports boat harbor. Then we stroll along the promenade to the cruise terminal. The shuttle bus brings us back to the Reflection.

La Spezia - harbor basin

La Spezia - harbor basin


In the evening at seven o'clock the Reflection takes off. Comfortable sun loungers invite you to relax between the Sunset Bar and Lawn Club. From there we enjoy the view of La Spezia and the coast again.

Continue reading: Day 3 - Villefranche