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.
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 - 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 - 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