The Telegraph, a great UK based newspaper often has some very good, interesting Travel articles – some ideas for Cinque Terre and the area surrounding La Spezia – should you happen to arrive by cruise ship are provided here – Cinque Terre and Surrounding areas (#cinqueterre)
What to do
The classic CinqueTerre activity – and the reason so many visitors come here, even out of season – is the walk along the coast path that connects the five villages (if you’re feeling ambitious, you can extend it as far as La Spezia to the east or Levanto to the west).
So popular is the walk that the Cinque Terre National Park now levies a toll: to access the main Sentiero Azzurro coastpath , you need to invest in a Cinque Terre Card, which comes in one-day, two-day, three-day and week-long versions (information and prices at parconazionale5terre.it).
From west to east, the five villages are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Monterosso is the largest, and the only one with a selection of hotels and a family-friendly sandy beach. But it’s well worth pushing on from here, as each of the villages has its own character.
Vernazza is like the Italian fishing village of one’s dreams – its colourful houses huddled around a picturesque harbour-piazza. Aloof on a clifftop, Corniglia is the most reserved and rural of the five. In pretty Manarola, the fishing boats are drawn right up the sinuous main street to protect them against the scirocco gales that blow in from the south.
The easiest section of the coast path, the nearly-flat Via dell’Amore, leads from here to Riomaggiore, a village of tall Genoese houses which feels like a salty old pirate hideout.
If you’re taking the boat between La Spezia and the Cinque Terre, it’s worth stopping off in Portovenere, a handsome port town whose pastel-hued houses seem concertina-ed together.
La Spezia itself is a busy provinicial capital and the main training and shipbuilding centre of the Italian navy. At the entrance to the main navy base, the Museo Tecnico Navale (Viale Amendola 1, +39 0187 783 016) displays a fascinating collection of marine memorabilia, from model ships to manned torpedoes.