Dove può il Eurotrash porre le loro teste stancare?
February 6, 2007 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Where can the Eurotrash lay their weary heads in Cinque Terre?

My wife and I, along with at least two other friends, are heading to Italy in April. We plan to spend some time in Cinque Terre, and are wondering if the Hive Mind has any lodging recommendations based upon past experience or insider information. We'd like an apartment to help split costs, but we're open to any suggestions.

I've checked the other Italy/Cinque Terre threads, but the accommodation answers deal more specifically with Rome.

Blame Babel Fish for any headline faux pas. :-)
posted by malaprohibita to Travel & Transportation around Italy (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Once you get into any town, go to the corner shop and ask about available rooms. There's a network of grandmotherly types in each town that can arrange for a lovely place to stay.
In 2003 we strolled into Corniglia and asked at a bar for a room. A messenger boy was dispatched and a grandmother in a housedress soon appeared. She walked my wife and I up to a small apartment that was extremely charming. We took it immediately. Someone else had arranged to get the apartment the next night, so when we decided to stay an extra night, the grandmother referred us to yet another grandmother with an apartment for rent. It was decidedly low-tech system, but efficient and folksy.

you must have pesto there... your tastebuds will sing (an Italian aria, of course)

side story: the grandmother asked us where we'd been, & when she learned we'd come from Rome she scoffed that "Rome wasn't Italy."
posted by Tasanova at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Every Italy travel guide I've ever written, edited, or read has suggested Tasanova's method.

The only other source that might have strong info is Rick Steves' guides or website. He's the one who really popularized the Cinque Terre for American tourists; I always think of that as "his" region.
posted by occhiblu at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2007

Sorry, my last comment was stupidly phrased. Ignore the "only"; I'm sure there are sources other than Rick Steves for the info you're looking for. He just may be a good place to start for authoritative information.
posted by occhiblu at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2007

we went thru a company called mar-mar ( to book a room last may. they had a good selection of rooms in riomaggiore, the southernmost town. we did it all online, they had a couple of americans working for them so no language barrier. the room was great, inexpensive, right on the main square. we'd definitely use them again. that said, april is right before the busy season, you'd probably be ok just showing up & asking around. there are signs everywhere advertising 'rooms-camere-zimmer'.
posted by aquanaut at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2007

Okay, here's my recommendation... I was there in April. There are five towns... Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola & Riomaggiore. Thing is, Rick Steves always tells everyone to use Vernazza as their home base. SO IT'S PACKED. I mean, we arrived late and there wasn't a single room. So we hopped back on the train and ended up finding a nice room in a very sweet little house in Monterossa. It was really very cool, especially because we weren't surrounded by Rick Steves freaks.

If you want to try Vernazza first, there's a little coffee place/internet cafe on the right hand side as you walk down the cobblestone hill from the train station (they had a few tables outside & I think they had a gelato bar too -- it was probably about halfway down the hill towards the water). The guys there knew EVERYTHING, they were really nice & helpful. The people who work in the other restaurants are cool too, that's how we ended up finding the Monterossa place. Just walk in and ask if anyone has a recommendation & they're totally helpful. It's not a bad place to enjoy a cup of coffee either.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:53 PM on February 6, 2007

OOOH! I just remembered! If you go to Monterossa, and walk into the town itself, there is a wine shop. It's run by a guy named Luigi and his wife. EVERYONE in town seems to know him so you can probably ask ANYONE. Luigi is the friendliest thing you'll ever meet... oh my LORD is he a nice man. He will TOTALLY hook you up! He really took care of us for our entire time in town, just because a waiter called him over & said we needed help.
And then his wife gave us so many free samples of limonetto & grappa that we barely made it back to the room...
posted by miss lynnster at 1:56 PM on February 6, 2007

Lastly... DO NOT try to walk the entire Cinque Terra hike from RioMagiorre to Monterossa. From RioMagiorre to Corniglia is nice (and you've GOTTA love it when a cliffside hike is littered with wine bars along the way!) but after that there were a few times where I began to empathize with the Von Trapp family fleeing the Nazis through the Austrian hills. Color me lazy, but I was ready to just give up & let Rolf shoot me.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2007

Oooh, just read my first post... I should clarify that for years I WAS a Rick Steves freak. It just gets annoying after a while when you find yourself surrounded by packs of Americans, Rick Steves books in hand, all trying to see EXACTLY the same things & not stepping away from his advice. His books are great tools though & I still always use them as one of my resources. I am just painfully aware that if he recommends a place it will probably be completely filled up with his fans or one of his tour groups. So I check out what he says first and then often end up veering gently off the Rick Steves beaten path to discover new things.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2007

I stayed in the Castello di Monleone in Moneglia. Cheap(ish), unique, and very romantic. Good pictures of its magnificence here.
posted by roofus at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2007

I'm sure that these days Rick Steves feels like Brian telling the throngs: 'You're all individuals.' But what Tasanova and miss lynnster said: wing it.
posted by holgate at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2007

FYI... Moneglia is in Liguria too, it's not one of the "five lands" of the Cinque Terra but I believe it's about halfway between the Riomaggiore & Portofino. Probably pretty close by train.

(Sorry to be posting so much in here but MAN do I love travel!)

posted by miss lynnster at 3:40 PM on February 6, 2007

Reiterating the wing it suggestion. I arrived pretty late at night last October via train and it took all of 10 minutes for me to find a nice lady who showed me and my friends to a first-floor apartment a stone's throw from the beach. If you walk up and down the main drag in any of the towns you'll see dozens of signs in windows advertising apartments for rent. Not hard at all; not worth booking ahead of time unless you're going in July.
posted by jckll at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2007

I was there three years ago and we decided to stay in La Spezia, the bigger town just past the Cinque Terra. On the plus side: It was cheap; it was just a short train ride to the Cinque Terra; there were more shops and stuff for cheap breakfasts, etc. On the minus side: Our hotel room had no air conditioning, and the traffic noise outside was so bad we couldn't open the windows.

So while you might try the "winging it" option, at least know that you've got La Spezia as a backup.
posted by web-goddess at 4:54 PM on February 6, 2007

Countering miss lynnster, when I was there (December '05), it simply wasn't possible to hike all the way across, parts of the trail are washed out. I did what was open in about 3.5-4 hours, but I was alone and in extremely good shape at the time. (Traveling constantly through Europe will do that to you.) Budget most of the day if you're going to go all the way through, at least 5 hours.
I can't remember if there was a tourist bureau in any of the cities, but I recommend the first poster's suggestion, it's particularly good for small towns like Assisi and any of the Cinque Terre.

I found the Cinque Terre to be the most Americanized of all the places in Italy, beyond Roma, Venezia and Firenze. I blame Rick Steves, but I really enjoyed the 'interesting' Americans that turned up.

I was curious about the headline and was tempted to answer entirely in Italian, but the Babelfish disclaimed swayed me off. Feel free to email if you want more information.
posted by lilithim at 11:28 PM on February 6, 2007

Wheeeee! Thanks everyone. I think all the answers so far are really informative and very helpful. Keep 'em coming.

And miss lynster, you're cracking me up. I recognize a fellow travel junkie.
posted by malaprohibita at 10:40 AM on February 7, 2007

The ask-at-a-shop method worked wonderfully for some friends and I in Corniglia.

We ended up staying in a really nice little place for 20 Euro a night, with this view.

One other suggestion, make sure to try some of the local white wines. At about 2 Euro a bottle, they were a delicious and inexpensive way to recover from that is actually a reasonably long walk, from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other.
posted by sindark at 10:42 AM on February 7, 2007

Okay, updates a few months after the fact:

Cinque Terre is amazing. There is no other way to describe it. My wife and I stayed in Riomaggiore, and got a place very quickly and easily. One thing I have to say to anyone who comes looking through this thread for information: there's a restaurant in Riomaggiore called Pizzeria Veciu Muin da Gigi. Avoid it if possible. It's a tourist trap with mediocre food, and you can get so much better elsewhere.
posted by malaprohibita at 4:35 PM on May 12, 2007

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