Day 1: La Spezia
Upon arriving at the train station in La Spezia, we visited the tourist office where a lovely woman explained which trails were open, which were closed, and gave updated rates for the Cinque Terre Pass. There are two options for the Cinque Terre Pass; one or two days. Both options offer hiking trail access, Park bus use, and unlimited train travel (on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia trains). A one day pass is 12€ and a two day pass is 23€. Maps, bus schedules, and train schedules are available in the tourist office as well. I absolutely loved the woman’s honesty – she told the group in front of us not to bother buying the Cinque Terre Pass. During the off seasons the hiking trail check points aren’t enforced and train fares are always cheap. Thus, it made more sense for us to simply buy train tickets each time we wanted to take the train as opposed to getting the Pass.
From the train station we made our way to our Airbnb to check in. I wish I could say we had no trouble navigating La Spezia for the first time, but alas that wasn’t the case. We got lost looking for the place after climbing up what, at the time, seemed like thousands of stairs. After staring at Google Maps on our phones for ages, we split up and quickly managed to find the place. Upon meeting our host (who had been waiting for us), he nonchalantly mentioned that people often tell him it’s hard to find the place…
Our Airbnb was beautiful, not to mention perfect for four people. We did have a few heating issues the first night, but once our kind host came back and explained how to manage the hot water heater/heating system (why so convoluted??), we had no further complaints.
Restaurants usually don’t open for dinner until after 7 in France and Italy, thus we had some time to explore La Spezia before finding something to eat. We made our way to the port just in time to check out the yachts and ships before night fell. We then did our grocery shopping for the weekend and headed back to the apartment before dinner. One of my favorite aspects of renting through Airbnb as opposed to hotels is having the option of cooking some meals instead of eating out three times a day.
We asked our Airbnb host for restaurant recommendations and he came through splendidly. My first meal in Italy was a local specialty; Testaroli con pistou (pancake pasta with pesto) at Toa degli Aranci. We shared one of the many bruschetta dishes as an appetizer and it was delicious. The Orecchiette with broccoli was great as well. The staff, and our server in particular, were amazingly helpful and friendly. After a day of traveling we were famished – too hungry to take photos of the food!
After a wonderful dinner, we returned to the apartment, looking forward to day two.
Up next: Day 2: Cornigila, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.