La Spezia Shore Excursions
Cinque Terre is a short section of the spectactular Ligurian coast. It consists of five villages or ‘Terre’ (castles), Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Riomaggiore is the closest of the 5 villages to La Spezia, and is the starting point for the famous Via dell'Amore, or Lovers Walk. Traditionally the short easy path was a popular trysting spot for couples, when one of the two lived in Riomaggiore, the other in Manarola. All five villages of the Cinque Terre are conveniently reached from La Spezia by frequent trains from the central train station. The journey time for La Spezia to Riomaggiore is less than 10 minutes, from La Spezia to Monterosso less than 20. If you buy a Cinque Terre Train card at La Spezia train station, it will cover unlimited train journeys between all the villages.
Vernazza is perhaps the most beautiful of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. It's amazingly picturesque, with colorful houses draped over steep cliffs above the crashing seas below. Two sights worth seeing in Vernazza are Doria Castle and the church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia. If you’re feeling energetic, the steep hike up to the the shrine at Madonna di Reggio is highly enjoyable.
Monterosso boasts two pebbly beaches, both very popular in the summer. Facilities available include sun lounger/umbrella hire, showers, and restrooms. There are lots of informal bars behind the beach offering lunch, a snack or a drink. Nearby points of interest include the Church of St John the Baptist and the Aurora tower. Don’t miss the lovely short walk around the promontory which connects old town to new town. Keen and fit hikers can attempt the ascent of the Punta Mesco/San Antonio headland along path 10. The summit offers spectacular views over the whole Cinque Terre coastline.
The village of Porto Venere, a UNESCO World Hertiage Site, is perched at the tip of the peninsula on the western side of the bay of La Spazia. Highlights of a visit include the ancient city gate, the medieval Chiesa di San Pietro, and the fortified Citadel. A regular public bus service (Bus P) connects La Spezia with Port Venere, with a journey time of around half-an-hour.
A popular shore excursion from La Spezia is magnificent Florence. It’s a fair distance by coach (2 hours each way), but if Florence is on your ticklist, it’s well worth the ride. The city’s top attractions include the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria , and the Uffizi gallery.
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