Weather alert announced for the Cinque Terre for Sunday, September 22nd

UPDATE: Due to changes in the meteorological forecast, the level orange weather alert has been downgraded to level yellow. A yellow alert is lower risk and local businesses are permitted to open. The yellow alert will conclude Monday, September 23rd, at 2pm.

From 9am to midnight on Sunday, September 22nd, a level orange weather alert has been issued for the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas.

The Cinque Terre villages are located where you see the letter C

Meteorologists have forecasted heavy rains, gusty winds and thunderstorms.

As this is a relatively serious alert, extra safety precautions within the Cinque Terre automatically go into effect. In the Comune di Riomaggiore (which encompasses the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Volastra and Groppo) businesses located within potential flood zones are required to close, automobiles must be moved to areas not prone to flooding and organized tour groups are not permitted to visit the villages (amongst a plethora of other ordinances, but these are the main ones that affect those visiting our area). During the weather alert all hiking trails in the Cinque Terre National Park are officially closed.

If you are staying in the Cinque Terre we recommend buying food and snacks to tide you over as many businesses (bars, restaurants, shops, offices, etc.) are required to close. Only a select few businesses (with secondary emergency exits or outside of the flood zones) are allowed to remain open.

Here are the businesses that are permitted to stay open during a level orange weather alert for the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola (but keep in mind that just because they can open doesn’t mean that they will open). Also, chances are that the few places open will be very busy and with potentially long lines.


Fuori Rotta (bar/café)

Farmacia (pharmacy)

Coop 5Terre (grocery market, the one located higher up on via Colombo)

La Zorza (bar/café)

Dau Cila (restaurant)

A Pié de Mà (wine bar)*

Focacceria da Paolino (snack bar in the marina)


Aristide (bar/café/restaurant)

Trattoria dal Billy (restaurant)

La Scogliera (restaurant)

Piè de Campu (café)

Nessun Dorma (bar/café)*

*I think it’s extremely unlikely these businesses will be open during a weather alert as their seating is outdoors

If you are staying in Corniglia, Vernazza or Monterosso speak with your host to see how you will be potentially affected by the weather alert.

What do I recommend? Use this day to catch up on sleep or some much-needed R&R. Delve into a new book or catch up on emails. If you decide to venture out, be cautious and prepared for heavy rains (and ready to turn back should conditions worsen). Steer clear of low-lying areas that are prone to flooding.

5 months post-storm, the SP-227 road between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino has reopened


In late October 2018, an especially forceful storm passed through Liguria (the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located). Luckily for us, the five villages had minimal damage but just up the coast from us Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure weren’t so lucky. The damage in the two seaside locales was quite extensive as they were pummeled by high winds (up to 180km/hour) and torrential rain as well as a surging storm tide that washed away the only road leading to Portofino, leaving the village isolated and only reachable by sea.

Photo: Liguria Oggi

Today a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially reopen the coastal road, a mere five months post-storm. This, considering typical timelines in Italy, is an astounding feat and to be commended.

Facebook live screenshot: Il Secolo XIX

What does this mean for travelers? Road transport to Portofino will resume making it easier to visit the chic and glitzy seaside village. If you are traveling by train you’ll want to arrive to the Santa Margherita Ligure train station where you can either take a city bus (just outside the train station), grab a taxi or hire a private car with driver (called an NCC or noleggio con conducente) to reach Portofino.

Newly appointed president of the Cinque Terre National Park

Yesterday news arrived that the vacancy for the position of president of the Cinque Terre National Park has finally been filled. The president’s seat has been empty since 2017 when President Vittorio Alessandro’s term ended. Since that time, the acting vice president (who also happens to be Vernazza’s mayor, Vincenzo Resasco) covered the duties but he unexpectedly resigned last week. This move by Resasco is thought to have sped up the notoriously slow appointment process which is through Italy’s Ministry of the Environment.

The newly appointed president is Donatella Bianchi, a well-known journalist, TV personality and president of WWF Italy. Bianchi is actually from nearby Lerici, making her a pseudo-local (which gives her a leg up when it comes to winning the approval of Cinque Terre residents). She is also the first female president of the Cinque Terre National Park (the national park was formed in 1999 and there have been two male presidents prior to Bianchi’s appointment). Cinque Terre locals are crossing their fingers and hoping that President Bianchi will take the Cinque Terre’s issues to heart and advocate for the area’s protection, conservancy and proper management with a focus on sustainable tourism.

The Cinque Terre National Park’s newly appointed president, Donatella Bianchi

Storm warning for Cinque Terre: August 13 & 14, 2018

Starting at 9pm today and carrying through until 3pm on August 14th, a level orange storm warning has been issued for the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas in Liguria. On the map below, the Cinque Terre falls in section C.

What does this mean? In Italy, there are four distinct colors regarding weather forecasts:

GREEN (0) is no danger whatsoever, YELLOW (1) is slight danger, ORANGE (2) is moderate danger and RED (3) is the highest level of alert for predicted extreme storm conditions.

Given the 2011 flood that affected Vernazza & Monterosso, these storm warnings are not taken lightly by local city officials.

In the case of the Comune di Riomaggiore (which includes the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Groppo and Volastra) level orange and red storm warnings mean that local businesses and schools located within potential flood zones are required to remain closed. Also, cars parked in potential flood areas must be moved to other locations. Tour groups will not be allowed to disembark in Riomaggiore or Manarola, whether by train or bus. Lastly, all hiking trails will be officially closed until the storm warning has been reduced. The other two city halls in the Cinque Terre (Comune di Vernazza and Comune di Monterosso) take similar measures during level orange (or red) storm warnings.

If you are in the Cinque Terre now, exercise caution in the event of heavy rains (in which case, stay indoors and away from flood susceptible areas). Businesses outside of designated flood zones should be unaffected and open for business as usual.

Silver lining: Maybe it will be a good day to catch up writing in your travel journal?


The 2018 payment parking situation in Riomaggiore 

I’ve updated all the details on the payment parking garage in Riomaggiore for 2018. There are new rates and payment options so be sure to have a look!

Ciao for now,

Cinque Terre Insider

Updated: April, 2018

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided to forgo my advice to park beneath the station at La Spezia Centrale and train to the Cinque Terre (more details on that option can be found on my blog post here).

I’m happy to report that since last year there have been significant improvements made to Riomaggiore’s payment parking garage (including new signage and a new payment machine) helping to make things a little easier for visitors.  It’s still far from perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.   Keep reading so you know exactly where (and how) to park in the payment parking garage in Riomaggiore, even before arriving to the village.

When you turn off the Litoranea (SP-370) for Riomaggiore, you’ll find yourself on a narrow and winding road (SP-32) leading down to the village. Stay to the right and keep in mind that…

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Free parking options in Riomaggiore

I’ve just updated this post with new info and photos for 2018. If you’re planning to drive to Riomaggiore this year you’ll want to have a look!

Ciao for now,

Cinque Terre Insider


The Cinque Terre are remote villages connected by a narrow and winding provincial road.  While the villages are easiest to reach by train (which is why I recommend booking a parking space beneath La Spezia Centrale and taking the train just a few minutes to reach the Cinque Terre), some visitors decide to try their luck and actually drive to the villages.  Do I recommend it?  Meh.  I understand the appeal of having your vehicle nearby but honestly it’s a lot of hassle.  If you’re up for the challenge, keep reading below.

img_6081 Riomaggiore is the first village of the Cinque Terre that you will encounter if you are arriving from the direction of La Spezia.

Each village has payment parking options and these parking spaces will be located closest to the historic centers but not within them (don’t forget that the Cinque Terre villages are pedestrian-only).  For details…

View original post 1,036 more words

With the arrival of the Befana, the holidays are a wrap in Italy

In many places around the world, the holidays end with the passing of Christmas.  Not so in Italy, where the holiday period continues up until the Epiphany on January 6th.  The Epiphany is a Christian feast day (and national holiday in Italy) that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. There’s an Italian proverb that says, “L’Epifania tutte le feste le porta via” (a rhyme alluding to the fact that the arrival of the Epiphany officially ends the holiday season).  In Italy, only after the Epiphany will holiday decorations and lights be dismantled and put away.

Just like Santa Claus (Babbo Natale) is associated with Christmas, Italian children link the Befana with the Epiphany.  The Befana is an elderly woman with a handkerchief or scarf tied over her head, a prominent nose and very few teeth; her preferred mode of transportation is a broom.  Despite obvious similarities, any Italian will vehemently tell you that the Befana is most definitely not a witch.  In Italy, it is not the job of Babbo Natale to fill stockings the night before Christmas (rather, he simply brings gifts); that job falls squarely on the Befana who will fill stockings that have been left out on window sills or near the fireplace the night before the Epiphany.  Children who have been good will wake up on January 6th to find their stockings filled with candy, sweets and perhaps a few small toys or trinkets. The not-so-fortunate children that have misbehaved are destined to receive coal or garlic in their stockings.

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col vestito alla romana:
Viva viva la Befana!

Curious about the history of the Befana?  Me, too.  Of course, most of the more detailed information that can be found online is in Italian.  Different sources give different accounts; some date the Befana back to pre-Christianity (likening her to Mother Nature and pagan rituals) while the more popular (and historically more recent) narratives recount that the Befana brings gifts to recall those brought to Jesus by the Three Kings.

According to legend, while on their way to Bethlehem to take their gifts to the newborn Jesus, the Three Kings found themselves lost and stopped to ask an old woman for directions. Despite their insistence, the old woman refused to leave her house to accompany them on their way.  Feeling guilty afterwards for refusing their invitation, the old woman prepared a basket of sweets. Despite her best efforts, the old woman was unable to find the Three Kings to deliver her gifts.  She then stopped at every house along the way giving sweets to the children she encountered, hoping that one of these children was Jesus.  From that moment on, the Befana has circled the world giving gifts to children, seeking forgiveness.

While that particular legend seems rather melancholic, the arrival of the Befana is anything but for Italian children and she is a beloved folkloric character.

Want to join in on the cultural festivities? A family-friendly event honoring the Befana will take place in Monterosso on Saturday, January 6th, at 3pm.  Music and snacks for the children will accompany the festivities in Piazza Garibaldi.

Buona Befana!


It’s an Indian summer in the Cinque Terre

If you happened to visit the Cinque Terre this October you hit the traveler’s jackpot: a beautiful Indian summer. 

October is usually a transitional month with fall wardrobes (light sweaters, scarves and whatnot) making their debut. Not so this year, October has had more than its fair share of dips in the sea and sunbathing at the beach. 

If you’re headed here soon I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this beautiful weather holds out. You’ll definitely want to pack (and wear) layers that can be shed (or piled on) easily; in direct sunlight it can feel rather hot but in the shade (or after the sun sets) it can be quite chilly. 

Carpe diem!


P.S. Enjoying the photos? Follow me on Instagram for lots more! @cinqueterreinsider

St. Francis celebration in Monterosso this weekend

You may or may not know that St. Francis (San Francesco d’Assisi) is the patron saint of Italy (as well as the patron saint of animals and the environment). St. Francis holds a special spot in the hearts of Italians and to this day it’s a popular name for boys in Italy. 

Although St. Francis’ Feast Day was October 4th, this weekend he will be celebrated in Monterosso by the Capuchin friars and the local population.

At 9pm today (Saturday, October 7th) a free concert will be held in honor of St. Francis at the Monastery of Capuchin Friars in Monterosso.  At 11am on Sunday, October 8th, a special Mass will be held in the same location. At 12:15pm on Sunday a lunch will be held in Piazza Garibaldi in Monterosso with live entertainment and a missionary fundraiser present. 

The Capuchin friars have been a part of Monterosso since the creation of the village and they are well-loved and respected by locals.  The festivities celebrating St. Francis  are a tradition and rekindle comradery between the friars and residents of Monterosso. 

If you’re in the Cinque Terre this weekend, this is a great cultural event you won’t want to miss! 


Storm warning in effect for September 9, 2017

UPDATE, 3:30pm: The storm warning has been extended to 7am tomorrow morning (September 10, 2017) and in zones D, B and E has been updated to a red (level 4) alert. The Cinque Terre and surrounding areas remain under an orange (level 3) alert. 
Original text

An orange (level 3) storm warning is in effect for today, September 9, 2017.

Our entire region (Liguria) is on an orange alert. More specifically, the Cinque Terre villages are on a level orange alert from 5pm to 12 midnight on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Meteorologists are expecting storms with heavy precipitation, thunder and lightning, strong winds and rough seas

Just to be clear, this is the key for the color coded storm warnings:
Green = Slim to none 
Yellow = Slight danger
Orange = Dangerous
Red = Extremely dangerous 
What does this mean for visitors to the Cinque Terre?

  • All hiking trails within the Cinque Terre National Park will be officially closed during the storm warning.
  • In case of torrential downpour, stay away from low-lying areas or potential flood zones. 
  • In case of rough seas, stay away from the water’s edge. 
  • Use prudence. 

For more information and updates on the alert you can consult (in Italian):

Allerta Liguria

It sounds like today will be a good day to curl up and read a book or catch up on your postcard writing. 

Take care,