Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions: July 2018

Hello, July!

Below you’ll find the July 2018 schedule for the Cinque Terre guided tours & excursions.

If you have the Cinque Terre Card you can join these tours and excursions for free. If you’d like to buy the Cinque Terre Card in advance you’ll want to check out my post on the subject here.  If you don’t plan to purchase the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate by paying €6.50 per person.  As these tours have picked up in popularity, you’ll definitely need to book in advance (details on how to do that can be found at the bottom of this post).

The calendar is color coded:

BLUE: A historical and cultural tour of one of the Cinque Terre villages (in comparison to the hikes this is a less strenuous experience)

YELLOW: A hike

GREEN: A hike which requires the purchase of the Cinque Terre Card (as you’ll be hiking on a portion of the coastal trail which requires a pass)

PINK: An e-bike tour

PURPLE: A plogging* hike

*Plogging is a movement that started in Sweden in 2016 and has since spread worldwide.  It’s an eco-friendly activity where joggers, hikers or walkers pick up litter while they are out and about.  It gets two thumbs up from me!

Keep an eye out for the asterisks on the calendar:

  • One asterisk (*) denotes the possibility to add on a wine tasting with a local vintner. I highly recommend this! TIP: Be sure to mention it if you’re interested when you reserve your spot.
  • Two asterisks (**) indicates a tour on an e-bike.  Not sure what an e-bike is?  It’s a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for “pedal assist” (which makes climbing those steep Cinque Terre hills a breeze!).  These tours require a minimum age of 14 years and they are very limited in size (max. 8 participants).  Each participant will be provided with a helmet and a bottle of water.  And of course, proper footwear and attire is required. 
  • Three asterisks (***) is for the option to visit a local farm (for an additional €3 per person).

To reserve your space you’ll need to either ring (+39) 0187 743 500 or email


You can follow Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting photos, schedules and updating in case of cancellations (due to weather conditions).



Holiday happenings in the Cinque Terre

The off-season in the Cinque Terre typically spans from the beginning of November through the week before Easter. However, things pick back up a bit for the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s.

Here’s a running list of happenings over the 2017 holiday period in the Cinque Terre (keep checking back as I will update as more events are released):

December 22nd: A free concert will be held in Vernazza’s church at 9pm. Advance reservations are requested (although I highly doubt they’ll turn people away at the door).

December 23rd: The highly awaited inauguration and lighting of Manarola’s Presepe (nativity scene), which covers the hillside opposite the village, will take place at 5:30pm. Expect fireworks (and lots of people). I recommend arriving early as there will be events preceding the lighting.

Photo credit: Michael Pasini

December 24th: At 9:30pm Monterosso will hold a religious procession which will start in the sea (spectators will be at the water’s edge) at the Molo dei Pescatori in the historical center of the village. The procession will lead to the church where at circa 10:30pm a special Christmas Eve Mass will be held. Following Mass, hot chocolate, panettone (Italian Christmas cake) and Christmas cheer will be shared.

December 26th through January 5th: On various dates there will guided excursions of Manarola’s world famous Presepe (nativity scene) as well as planned visits to local wineries. Advance reservations required (see details below).

December 31st: New Year’s Eve party with deejay in Monterosso’s Piazza Garibaldi starting at 11pm.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!


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! 


Cinque Terre National Park guided tours & excursions: August 2017

For those heading to the Cinque Terre and seeking a guided experience, look no further. The Cinque Terre National Park offers a different guided option for each day of August. If you’ve purchased a Cinque Terre Card then the scheduled tours and excursions are free for you! If you don’t have the Cinque Terre Card you can still participate at the price of €6.50 per person.

Many of the dates on the Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar offer the possibility to tack on a wine tasting at a local cantina (recommended!) at the end of the tour or excursion for an additional fee. The fee for the wine tasting varies (depending on which cantina will be visited and which wines will be tasted), but most are right around the €10 mark (per person). This is a great way to get to know our territory and all that it stands for while also helping to support our local winemakers.

The Cinque Terre Walking Park calendar is color coded so I’ve created a key for you. First, look at your interested date(s) and then take note of the color for that day.

BLUE = Walking tour. This is going to be the least strenuous of the guided options available. The tours are of the five main villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso (just one village per day).

YELLOW = Hiking excursion. The days highlighted in this color will get you off the beaten path (as they are secondary trails rather than the popular coastal trail).

GREEN = Hiking excursion with mandatory purchase of either the hiking pass or Cinque Terre Card. This requirement is due to the fact that the excursion will take place on the coastal trail (Sentiero Azzurro), which is the only trail within the national park that requires a pass.

PINK = E-bike tour. This option is brand new for 2017! While traditional cycling of the Cinque Terre sounds like (and is!) hard work, these new bikes have power assisted pedaling when the going gets tough. I’m seriously going to try this out myself this year! Keep in mind that there are only eight (yes, EIGHT) spaces available per E-bike tour so you’ll want to act quickly and book your spots ASAP. IMPORTANT: The minimum age for this tour is 14 years.

RED = Expert hikers, only. For August, there’s currently no red dates on the schedule.

Be prepared

  • For the village tours, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
  • For the hiking excursions, either hiking boots or trainers with decent tread are required. Trust me, you’ll want all the grip you can get!
  • For the E-bike tours, you’ll need to wear comfortable athletic shoes.

All of the aforementioned tours & excursions take place in good weather. In case of rain or wet conditions, the tours & excursions will be cancelled.

BOOK IN ADVANCE. Don’t expect to show up and find a spot available. Reserve your spot in advance by ringing (+39) 0187 743 500 or emailing

Keep up with Cinque Terre Walking Park on Facebook by liking and following their page! Chiara (one of the local guides) does a great job of posting updates, schedules, photos and more.

While you’re at it, have a look at my post on the 8 things you need to hike the Cinque Terre.


2017 schedules for the Explora 5Terre bus

The Explora 5Terre bus system offers a great alternative to the other transport options in the Cinque Terre (see my previous post which explains Explora in greater detail here).  Explora currently shuttles passengers from La Spezia to as far as Vernazza (and vice-versa), with plenty of stops in between where passengers can hop on & off.  Keep in mind that the Explora bus does not travel to Monterosso (as the road between Vernazza and Monterosso is currently closed).

Explora will be kicking off its 2017 peak-season schedule on April 7th and will run 7 days a week through the end of September.

img_4300Keep in mind that the asterisk (*) denotes which corsa will run only on the dates mentioned in the light green box at the bottom of the schedule.

In comparison with last year (which was Explora’s first year of operation), more stops have been added to the line (the service is continually evolving to better meet the needs of passengers).


2017 rates

  • Unlimited day pass (hop on & off as much as you please): €22
  • Reduced rate unlimited day pass for kids (age 4-11 years): €17
  • Afternoon pass (unlimited on & off after 1pm): €17
  • Explora Plus (an unlimited day pass for those staying in authorized accommodation in the Cinque Terre or for those who have purchased either the Cinque Terre Card or the Cinque Terre hiking pass): €18.50
  • Explora one-way pass (hop on and and ride through as far as the end of the line): €10
  • Explora simple ticket (hop on in one village and hop off in the next): €5

BONUS: Starting in early June, the unlimited passes will include an audio guide (available in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German & Italian).  Keep in mind that a refundable deposit will be required for the audio guide to ensure its safe return.  In alternative, there will be the possibility to purchase one to take home with you as a souvenir.

How to purchase your Explora 5Terre tickets

Explora’s website has recently relaunched its e-commerce platform so that passengers can purchase their tickets online in advance (at the moment, only the day passes can be purchased online). In alternative, all ticket types can be purchased at any Cinque Terre National Park Info Point (credit cards accepted) or directly on the bus (cash only). 

Are you planning on being in Cinque Terre prior to the kickoff of the April 7th schedule?  Here’s the limited schedule that is currently in effect but keep in mind that the buses run ONLY for the dates indicated (March 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th 27th and 31st):


Village spotlight: MANAROLA


I must admit, I have heartstrings attached to the village of Manarola.  It was, after all, the very first place I ever visited in the Cinque Terre and a catalyst in my life as I know it.  On my last trip back to the States, I came across my travel journal from my epic Italy trip in 2002.  I thought it fitting to share this excerpt from the entry that I had written on Manarola:

“As I sit on the rocks on the breakwater I stare in amazement at this incredibly beautiful, colorful little village.  The people here are so friendly and quick to say hello.  Even as I sit here, a local fisherman is offering to show me his catch.  THIS is the Italy that I had always imagined.”

It gives me goosebumps to think of how my life would forever be changed from that moment.  If you are interested in reading my story, check out this blog post.


You can probably imagine why I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Manarola, the second village in the Cinque Terre from the city of La Spezia (or fourth from the direction of Genoa).  This village is smaller than Monterosso and Riomaggiore, but not teeny-tiny or remote like Corniglia.  It has plenty of shops and restaurants, a beautiful playground with magnificent views, and a cement ramp-cum-sunbed leading down to the crystal clear sea.  Manarola is an enchanting village, to say the least.

When you exit the train station in Manarola, you’ll need to take a tunnel that cuts through the cliff to connect to the historic center of the village.


Upon exiting this tunnel you can do one of two things:  1) go to the left and towards the sea (this is where the majority of visitors head upon arrival), or 2) go to the right and up the steep hill where you will be rewarded with gorgeous views over the village from the piazza della chiesa  (where the village church is located).


If you make your way down to the waterfront in Manarola, don’t miss out on a stroll to Punta Bonfiglio (once you reach the sea, make a right and follow the walking path out to the point).  This is the place to take that gorgeous, post card picture of the village.


If you are traveling with children, there’s a beautiful parco giochi (playground) that can be reached if you take the stairs up from the point (if you’re traveling with little ones, see my previous post with recommendations here).


During the Christmas holiday season, Manarola is known throughout Italy for its vast, illuminated nativity scene which lights up the hilltop vineyards above the village.  The nativity scene is the passion and creation of local Manarolese Mario Andreoli.   Mario started creating the nativity pieces from recycled materials (he was upcycling before it was the cool thing to do!) and placing them in the vineyards above the village nearly 50 years ago. Each year, Mario adds additional pieces (by the way, even outside of the holiday season you’ll still see the figurines throughout the vineyards, they just won’t be illuminated).  If you happen to be in the Cinque Terre in December/early January, don’t miss seeing it lit up!

My personal recommendations in Manarola


Trattoria dal Billy     via Aldo Rollandi 122, tel. +39 0187 920 628

Off the beaten path, this restaurant is located at the top of the village of Manarola (on a medieval lane that is accessed from the church square), and offers sweeping views over the village.  I’ve always felt confident sending guests to dal Billy and hearing their positive feedback after dining there just reinforces my recommendation.  There’s indoor and outdoor seating so if you’re wanting to sit outdoors (which, of course, you do!) you’ll want to book in advance (as there are only 7 small tables available outside).  As with just about every restaurant in the Cinque Terre, seafood is their pièce de résistance.  Keep in mind that their weekly day of closure is on Thursdays.


La Cantina dello Zio Bramante     via Renato Birolli, 110, tel. +39 0187 920 442

This is the place for drinks, live music (most every night during peak-season) and a kick back atmosphere.  It’s a favorite with locals, too (which is always a good sign).

Nessun Dorma     località Punto Bonfiglio, tel. +39 320 071 3868

This little bar has the best location of any establishment in Manarola:  it sits right out on Punta Bonfiglio (think: where all of the postcard pictures of Manarola are taken).  It’s also very handily located just beneath the playground (hint, hint to all the parents reading).

Cinque Terre Trekking     via Discovolo 136, tel. +39 0187 920 715

Owned and operated by local Nicola and his American expat wife Christine, this little mom & pop shop has all the equipment that one might need for hiking and trail running (including shoes, clothing and gear).  They have a passion for what they do and it shows (they were a driving force behind the SciaccheTrail marathon held in the Cinque Terre earlier this year).  Christine is also the creator of some really awesome videos on our area (which I’ve previously shared here and here).  Even if you don’t need equipment you can pick up one of their nifty logo shirts and share with the world that you’ve crossed “hike the Cinque Terre” off of your bucket list.


The primary source of accommodation in Manarola is through small, family-run affittacamere (room rentals) and vacation apartment rentals.  This is a great option for those seeking an authentic experience where they will be staying side-by-side with locals.  There’s a plethora of options available but here’s a few surefire ones to get you started on your search (if they happen to be full for your dates, ask them if they can refer you to someone else that they know & recommend).


Da Baranin offers private rooms with breakfast as well as self-catering apartments.  This is a budget-friendly option ranging in price from €70-€110 per night for a double.


Casa Capellini  is family-run with TLC and offers remodeled accommodations in a historic building (most with sea views).  Prices range from €90-€110 per night for a double.


La Torretta is the perfect option for those looking to splurge and wanting a posh, boutique-style stay.  Prices range from €220-€700 per night for a double.